In this tutorial we are going to show you how we distressed a tall dresser we had in our house with chalk paint and vaseline.  The dresser is about 55 years old, had some deep gouges in the side but was in still pretty good shape.

We had an idea that this would make a good distressed furniture piece.

We decided to go with a barn-type red that we already had around the house that would work well in the room we were going to use it in.   I apologize that I can’t tell you the exact color on this one.  We had it a while and just aren’t sure of the exact color.

Anyway here we go!


distressing supplies

  • Chalk Paint – You can buy this from Annie Sloan or you can make your own with our VERY simple recipe here:  How To Make Chalk Paint
  • Paint Brushes
  • Steel Wool Pads and/or medium grade sandpaper
  • Finishing Wax – On this piece we used MinWax Paste Finishing Wax but you can also use Annie Sloan’s waxes made especially for chalk paint or you can finish it with a fast drying polyurethane or some other similar finish
  • Rags
  • Vaseline or Candle Wax – on this piece we used vaseline



Here is the dresser before we began.  Very simple with a light stain.

dresser before


You don’t normally need to do any sanding prep with chalk paint but this piece had some deep gouges on the side that we needed to sand out.  You can see them on the side in the below picture.

Of course we could have left the gouges in tact to keep a little character on the dresser but they were accidental deep scratches and not very appealing to us so we got rid of them, but you decide what you want on your piece.

dresser before



We went with a two color distressing technique where we have a different color than the color of the wood stain to show under the top coat so we used a Williamsburg blue on the bottom coat to cover any areas that would become exposed by the distressing.

We did not use chalk paint on this bottom coat, just a standard latex interior flat.

adding blue undercoat  blue undercoat


After the blue had dried we began applying vaseline anywhere on the piece that we wanted to show under the topcoat later on.

The vaseline makes the top coat of paint practically fall off with ease so apply it wherever you want to distress the piece later.  You can almost wipe it off with a rag so you have to be careful where you put it.

Don’t overdo it though.  The vaseline smears easliy and can leave you with larger exposed areas after distressing that you may not want.   If you want larger areas exposed then apply the vaseline accordingly.

Focus on corners, edges, raised areas and around high traffic areas such as handles and knobs.

adding vaseline  vaseline on the edges

Again, always feel free to make the piece you are working with your own.  Wherever you want the piece to show signs of distressing is where you should put them.


Next we began painting the dresser with the top coat of red chalk paint.  It took two coats to cover but that’s pretty typical with reds.

applying the red  top piece painted red



After your paint has dried you are ready to begin distressing.  We used a medium grade sandpaper and #3 steel wool.   You can use what works for you.  You can use sanding blocks, etc.   We focused on the top of the dresser for a heavier distressing than we did on the bottom piece.  We applied lots of simulated paint peeling, scratches and scrapes.

Begin on the places you applied vaseline.  The paint in these areas will easily peel off.  Add other distress marks as desired.  Remember to focus on corners, edges, high ridges, raised areas and high traffic areas such as knobs and handles.

Just use your eyes and your instinct.  When you see something that looks good you will know it.  Just trust your instinct but always go slow.  You can always distress more if need be.


Use a cheese cloth or damp cloth to clean the sand and dust caused by the distressing off of the piece.  Now you are ready to finish.   We used natural color MinWax Furniture Finishing Paste on this piece.  Apply with a clean, soft rag in circular motions.  Use a wax brush to get in between any small crevices or design work if needed.

After 10-15 minutes of drying buff the piece with a clean, soft rag.  The more you buff the more shine you get.

Applying Wax




Well, here it is.  This piece looks amazing and much better in person than in the pictures.  We hope they do the piece a little justice.

Finished Red Dresser

Finished Top

Final Bottom


Well, thanks for stopping by.  We are always available to answer any questions you may have.  Just leave a comment.