{Distressing with Vaseline and Cabinet Scrapers}



distressing tech 003

My very favorite distressing technique with furniture, is the look of chippy paint.  And although i love that look, i didnt exactly know how to go about it.  I have read tons of things online and tried lots of little tricks but nothing really turned out good.

I have heard about the vaseline trick before, so i decided to give it a try (they say you can also use candles for this).  Just take a putty knife, or anything really (on some spots i just used my fingers) and put it on parts where i didnt want the paint to stick.  I just put a layer on – nothing perfect – just willy nilly like :)

Then, paint as usual.  After the paint was dry, i just took a sanding block and rubbed off where the vaseline was.  I could see where it was at because the spots with the vaseline were a little bit raised up.  The vaseline just made the paint rub right off.  So easy and i love the look.

**this cabinet had dark wood already which is what i wanted to show  through.  You could easily paint it your first color, apply the vaseline and then paint your top color and then when you rubbed off the vaseline you would get the 1st layer of paint showing through**

white hutch finished 008

The next trick that i tried was scraping the paint off with a cabinet scraper.  I really liked distressing this way – this is the exact look that i have been trying to do and cant wait to play around with it more in the future.

I bought these scrapers @ Woodcraft for like $20 – i think it came with 4 or 5 of them.  You just have to sharpen the edge and then you rub it on the furniture and it scrapes the paint off.  You can take off a little or a lot – just play around with it. 

distressing tech 006

This is the look i got on one of the places on the furniture with the scraper…some spots i went heavier, some lighter…

distressing tech 001

Im sure you could also do this with a razor blade – maybe a little more dangerous in case it slips!!  I liked how big the scraper was – the one that i used was the rectangle one, about 5x2ish

So, here is the cabinet i just finished before…and can i just say that this cabinet was sold to the sweetest girl!  She loved it and that makes me love what i “do” – i get so excited when people love their new furniture :)

blue furniture march 2011 007

And after…painted with Valspar Ultra White in a semi-gloss and then heavily distressed

white hutch finished 010

Cabinet glass was busted out and replaced with chicken wire that was painted black

white hutch finished 006

The top distressing part was done with the cabinet scraper, the bottom one on the corner was done with vaseline. 

white hutch finished 007

white hutch finished 010

white hutch finished 001

Re-cap.  My new favorite distressing technique is my cabinet scraper, then i will for sure be using the vaseline trick as well, and of course i cant stop using my 60 grit sanding block :)

Whats your favorite way to distress furniture?  Anyone have a fun way to get the chippy paint look?  I would LOVE to know !

64 replies
  1. Tanya
    Tanya says:

    Neat tricks!

    I have a question…why does purposefully distressed furniture looks so nice, when the 'naturally' distressed stuff I have at home is, ah, not so cute at all. Where's the line? Is there a trick? Some of my furniture could definitely use a spruce up!

  2. Angela
    Angela says:

    Love this project, great job and great tip for the vaseline! I may have to try this. I'm looking for a cabinet similar to this one to use in my kitchen. I'll have to do some scouting and try your technique out. Thanks!

  3. Tiaras & Bow Ties
    Tiaras & Bow Ties says:

    Been a decorative painter for years, kind of taking the leap to furniture now…never heard of the vaseline tip! Will give it a try & thanks for sharing. Amazing what a new distressed coat of paint can do to transform a piece! Great job
    kim@ tiarasandbowties.blogspot.com

  4. Teresa@oursoutherncountryhomeandfarm
    Teresa@oursoutherncountryhomeandfarm says:

    Wow, what a great tip! Can't wait to try it, as I am about to paint a whole bedroom suit. Thanks.

  5. MommaHen
    MommaHen says:

    This is so super cute! I love the chicken wire and the way you staged the photo. Aqua and yellow is my all time favorite combo of colors. I hope you stop over and check out my refurbished furniture and maybe link up to my WhateverWEDNESDAY link party-hope to see you there :)

  6. Allison
    Allison says:

    I love learning new things, and you always come up with the best stuff! What are the cabinet scrapers made out of? They look something like sandpaper because they fold, but the material looks like wood…? Thanks again for the new wave of inspiration, Sausha! You're amazing :)

  7. Nanci
    Nanci says:

    So great looking…now you didn't mention it but did you put bead board in the back of the shelves? I can't tell for sure, but don't see it in the before pic. If so, how did you do it? Remove each shelf first, or how?
    Thanks for the tips.

  8. Suzanne@Meridian Road
    Suzanne@Meridian Road says:

    I didn't even know cabinet scrapers existed! Cool! I'll have to remember the vaseline trick, too. The cabinet looks amazing! I've used a razor blade before, but mostly I just use sandpaper.

    Where did you get your wire basket/bin things? They are awesome!

  9. ⚜ ↁℯℬℬᴵℰ⚜
    ⚜ ↁℯℬℬᴵℰ⚜ says:

    Cool beans! Never heard of those scrapers or the Vaseline tip. I will be getting some for sure.

  10. Mrs. Brittany
    Mrs. Brittany says:

    Ok first, I have to say a huge thank you. I've commented, I don't know how many times, ASKING people how they get that clean wiped off or sanded off look without it being messy with sanded lines all around from the block or the sander…no response! Till now! Vasaline, and the razor thingie. GREAT to know! QUESTION: have you ever done outdoor furniture? how is the process different if you want to protect from weather?…exterior paint with clear glaze? would distressing cause wood to rot? I want an outdoor hutch for my garden tools, and to hang & dry flowers. :) I'd love to see you make one! I challenge you to it!
    please feel free to e-mail me back!

  11. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    It's mine! It's mine!! I'm the lucky gal who bought it— and can I say I just fall in love with it over and over everytime I walk past it!! Thank you sooo much Sausha!! You are so talented!!

  12. Rita May
    Rita May says:

    That turned out great! I used chicken wire in my kitchen pantry makeover on May Days. Great to see more ideas for furniture. I'm your newest follower!

  13. Korrie@RedHenHome
    Korrie@RedHenHome says:

    Lots of great tips! I have heard of using wax before, but never Vaseline. Love your chicken-wired cabinet!

  14. Nike@ChooseToThrive
    Nike@ChooseToThrive says:

    I have a garage sale desk that I've been wanting to redo forever. This is exactly what I've been looking for — thank you!! Can't wait to get started!

  15. Something Nice and Pretty
    Something Nice and Pretty says:

    Wow, thanks so much for the tips, I have a desk that I got off of CL and I'll certainly try the vasaline! I'm not a pro at this but my husband bought me a detail sander one year for Christmas and it's great for the edges of the furniture but not for a flat surface but that could be because I don't know what Im doing:)


  16. Betheny
    Betheny says:

    {GASP!!} I lOVE that hutch! That's the exact hutch that I had in mind for my craft room re-do!!! I was thinking about chicken wire but was so nervous about it. Now I have full confidance in it! Thanks so much for the before and after and all the tips. ;)

  17. Jill@Barnes Yard
    Jill@Barnes Yard says:

    Thanks so much for revealing your tricks!! I've used soap and candles a lot in the past but I'm really excited to try the vaseline and scrapers! I love stopping over here to get inspired! :)

  18. Hobbies & Crafts info
    Hobbies & Crafts info says:

    Thanks, found you from following links on Pinterest. Love your techniques, I’ll have to try the Vaseline one. I just love the look of distressed furniture, and I’ve gotten some good finds lately. Just trying to decide what direction I want them to take before I “commit” with paint. ;) I’ve always loved the chicken-wire look too. Unfortunately none of the pieces I’m getting ready to work with have panels I want to remove and replace with chicken wire, so I need to look some more.

  19. Rhiannon
    Rhiannon says:

    I also love using steel wool! its easy to control the amount of distress and even nicely changes the texture of some of the paint in places that will grab a glaze in interesting ways!

  20. Marielle
    Marielle says:

    I LOVE THIS!! i’ve been reading SOO MANY and i don’t understand how everyone is painting the furniture with the candle/vaseline/wax on it! Are you spray painting or using a spray gun? or brushing without pushing the vaseline around?

    Thank you so much for your postings!!

    • Sausha @ {Sweet Pickins}
      Sausha @ {Sweet Pickins} says:

      i use a paint sprayer, so im not sure how it would work with a brush, maybe just go over it really lightly

  21. Lori
    Lori says:

    Awesome! I’ve just started my trash to treasure hunt and projects and this is a wonderfully simple way to distress and a lot less work I might add! Love the finished cabinet with the chicken wire! Will be grabbing some at the store tomorrow! LOL ;)

  22. Texsheva
    Texsheva says:

    I’ve always used old candles or block wax instead of the vaseline….less messy, I think, and then just rub off paint with a paper towel!

  23. Linda
    Linda says:

    Happy to see the cabinet with chicken wire, i am working on one almost the same, your picture helps me to distress was not quite sure where i wanted to do it. will send a pictrure when iam done.It will be a couple of weeks because i in the middle of moving,but cant wait to get back at it. Linda

  24. AngieK
    AngieK says:

    Will this work without any vaseline below at all? I just spray painted something and would love to sand it down to expose the original wood (instead of adding a coat on top) but didn’t add anything on the base. (didn’t realize it could look cool distressed till after I sprayed it!)

    • Sausha @ {Sweet Pickins}
      Sausha @ {Sweet Pickins} says:

      ya!! You can just use sandpaper to sand down to the bare wood – its just a different look that you will get

  25. Cathy
    Cathy says:

    I have the same question as Brittany. What product would I use on a cabinet if it will be in the outdoor elements?

    Thanks – I love your work. You are such an inspiration!

    Cathy – Birmingham, AL

    • Sausha @ {Sweet Pickins}
      Sausha @ {Sweet Pickins} says:

      I believe the only clear coat recommended for outdoor use is spar urethane, but i have been told that any polyurethane will be fine as long as its somewhat protected from the elements (standing water) – but its important that the paint is recommended for outdoor use. I use one from sherwin williams that has UV protectant in it for anything thats going outdoors – sorry, i dont have it with me now to know the name of it, but just ask for it and they will get you thr right one for outdoor painting :)

  26. Ann-Marie
    Ann-Marie says:

    I love this look, you did a great job. I have distressed a lot of furniture in the past but I have never done used this technique. I would really like to try it. Do you have to use spray paint? It seems like it would make a mess to brush over the Vaseline and smear it everywhere.

    • Sausha @ {Sweet Pickins}
      Sausha @ {Sweet Pickins} says:

      I use a paint sprayer, but spray paint would work. You can also do it with a brush, just be careful in the spots where you have put the vaseline

  27. Peter
    Peter says:

    Applying contrasting paint with a small block of wood (patting & dragging) works amazingly – if kept to a minimum. Easiest and most effective technique.

  28. Dagmar
    Dagmar says:

    Love the look of this china cabinet! You did an awesome job!
    Questions; How did you place the bead board on the back? Also, did you apply glaze to this furniture?
    Thanks for sharing such great tutorial! …Dagmar :)


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.