Thanks for all the sweet comments on my balustrade coffee table! I think it’s the beginnings of a (good) addiction.
As promised, I wanted to show you a different way of distressing furniture. It’s a technique that I’ve never heard of until I went to a painting class at the Haven Conference in August. Maybe I just live a sheltered life, but I never knew you could “sand” with a wet rag instead of sandpaper.
The paint I chose to try it with was Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint in Grain Sack.
The finish I ended up with using milk paint and distressing with a wet rag reminds me of whitewashed or limed wood. Since milk paint gives you that well-worn chippy look, the result is a beautiful combination of layered, crackled, and chipped paint.
The best part about this technique is that it’s easy. There’s no dust from sanding to clean up. And unlike whitewashing that requires working in sections and timing it just right, this was just a process of putting the paint on, letting it dry completely, then wiping it off till I got enough of the wood grain to shine through.
I started with a table that had four different types of raw wood. There was aged pine, new pine, new fence boards, and painted balusters. I stained the new wood with Minwax Special Walnut. The old pine was stained with a 50/50 mix of Special Walnut and Golden Oak. This way, what shows through after distressing has similar wood tones. The stain dried overnight.
You won’t get the same results if you skip the wood stain and put the milk paint directly on raw wood. The paint will just soak into the porous wood.
If you’re using milk paint on a previously varnished piece of furniture, you’ll need to give it a light sanding and wipe it down with TSP to keep the paint from chipping too much.
I mixed the milk paint with water according to directions and gave the table two coats of paint. I also touched up the balusters.
After the table was completely dry, I began distressing with a damp wash cloth. The mistake I made was starting on the top of the table instead of working from the bottom up. You want to avoid drips of water or your paint will come off unevenly.
The biggest drawback to wet rag sanding is it takes a little more elbow grease than using sandpaper. If I wiped down a section a few minutes before I worked on it, it made it easier to remove the paint.
It was also easier if I wiped some areas against the grain of the wood. I love how the raised grain is highlighted on this part of the table.
Any areas where too much paint was wiped off or where the chipping was too pronounced got dry brushed. Wet just the tips of the bristles with paint, dab most of it off on a paper plate and lightly brush the paint on.
The fence board slats on the bottom of the table were distressed the same way.
After the table had time to dry completely, I gave it two coats of clear Annie Sloan furniture wax. I sealed the balusters with polyurethane.
By the way, I bought the Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint from Kathy of Petticoat Junktion. I also bought the color Boxwood and can’t wait to try it out. Click this link to go to her contact form to order any of the paints she stocks.
If you like the whitewashed look, I have a tutorial on how I used that technique on our son’s planked office-in-a-closet walls.