I love distressing items with paint, as it’s such an easy way to give instant vintage character to a piece, making it look like it has quite a bit of history behind it. There are a few different ways of easily faking a distressed paint finish, and one of my favorites is to use a wax candle.
The wax from the candle acts as a resist, so any paint that’s applied over the wax will not adhere to your piece, thus showing off the base color(s) instead. This gives you a time-worn, chippy paint finish, especially if you use more than two colors layered over one another.
Let me show you how easy it is to create a chippy paint finish on a cigar box!
Old wooden cigar box (or new unfinished one from the craft store)
Americana Chalky Finish Paint colors: Innocence, Cameo, Vintage
White rag or old t-shirt
1. Apply your first color to the cigar box. I used a pink shade as my base color, and applied two coats. As Chalky Finish paint dries quickly, I didn’t wait long to paint the second coat. Let dry.
2. Take your wax candle and rub it along areas of the cigar box that would normally be the first areas to be worn down, such as the edges, the sides, and any hardware.
Edited note: Based on a hilarious comment from my blogging friend Kelley, I thought I should mention here that this ugly brown thing is a candle! It’s an old acorn-shaped candle that I always use for small wood projects because of its shape and size. I admit that it’s kind of ugly!
You can see what the wax bits look like up close in this image:
3. Apply your second color to the cigar box. I used a rich shade of a burnt reddish-orange as my second layer of color. I applied only one coat, and as you can see, didn’t obsess over painting every single nook and cranny of the box. Let dry.
4. Using a sanding block, gently rub and sand over the areas where you rubbed the candle wax. Wipe dust away with a white rag. Sand over any additional areas where you’d like to have some of the first color peeking through the second color. Wipe dust away.
5. Take your wax candle and again rub it along areas of the cigar box that would normally be worn down, such as the edges, sides and hardware. Rub the candle on any additional areas where you’d like the first and second layers to show through.
6. Apply your third color layer to the cigar box. I used my current favorite Chalky Finish color – Vintage – as my top layer and again applied only one coat, painting right over the wax resist areas as I did in Step 3. Let dry.
7. Use the sanding block to gently sand over the wax resist areas. Wipe dust away with a white rag. Sand over any additional areas where you’d like to have some of the first and/or second colors peeking through the top color.
Sand a bit harder in some areas, and more of the first color will show. Lighter sanding will show the second color.
Keep at it until you are satisfied with how it looks. Wipe dust away.
And that’s all there is to it!
Here’s a look at the box latch, as each layer was added:
If you don’t have any wood cigar boxes, use an unfinished wood box from the craft store. In fact, you can use this same tutorial on wood frames, birdhouses, crates, letters, step stools and more.