I have a fun DIY project for you today: How to distress a painted frame with wax!
It all begins with a simple unfinished wood frame from the craft store. Like this one!
Unfinished wood pieces at craft stores are very inexpensive, which is great when you want to create a bit of home decor on a budget.
This frame has a bit of a defect where the two wood “braids” meet at the bottom. No worries – I’ll cover that up easily later!
Step One: Paint your frame with a chalky finish paint, in a color that matches your decor. I chose my go-to favorite chalk paint color: Vintage, which is from the DecoArt Americana Decor line of chalky finish paints. One coat of paint is all that’s needed. Let dry. (Chalky finish paints dry quickly, which is nice!)
You’ve seen Tammy and I do many painted projects where we’ve distressed the finish, usually by sanding.
You can use tinted wax to achieve a similar distressed, time-worn appearance. It’s easier than sanding, and for small projects like picture frames it is faster too. I like to use the brown creme wax from DecoArt’s Americana Decor line, as it’s specifically formulated to work with their chalky finish paints. (Most chalk paint brands have waxes to complement their paints.)
Step Two: Using a stencil brush or small paint brush, apply the brown creme wax to a small section of your frame at a time, then wipe the wax off with a white rag or paper towel. The brush will help you get the wax into all of the nooks and crannies. When you wipe the wax off, you’re left with a beautifully aged-looking finish. The brown wax stays behind (in the nooks and crannies) and highlights any designs or patterns in the wood.
Here’s what the frame looks like with a section covered in brown wax, just before I’m about to wipe it off:
Tip: If this is your first time using wax over chalk paint, either purchase two frames – so you have one frame to practice with first – or begin using the wax on the back of your frame, where nobody will see your first attempts.
Another Tip: Keep any frame inserts inside of the frame, even if you remove the glass. (In my case, there was no glass piece included.) Keeping these paper frame inserts in place allows you to be sloppy with the paint and wax.
Here’s the insert, which I removed once the waxing was done, before it dried:
Step Three: Cut a piece of printed burlap or fabric of your choice to fit inside the frame. I took a 6×6 piece of printed burlap and cut it to fit into the 5×5 frame opening.
Put it all together, and admire your vintage-style wall decor!
I added a piece of vintage lace seam binding – wrapped around the bottom of the frame twice, then tied into a knot – to easily cover up that wood imperfection I showed you earlier. Here’s a close-up:
Want to know an easy trick to get your vintage lace seam binding all nice and crinkly for a shabby look? Click here for my easy how-to: Crinkled Vintage Lace Seam Binding.
Here’s a close-up look at the chalky painted wood with the brown wax. I love how easy it is to make something look distressed without having to do any sanding!
I used my favorite blue color (Vintage), which has hints of green in it, because our home decor has lots of pale aqua and blue accents.
Look around your home and decide what color you’d like to bring out. There are many chalk paint colors that can be mixed together to achieve the color you want.
It’s fun to experiment with color. And if you don’t like it? Just paint over it!
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