How to Distress Wood with Vaseline

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What You'll Need
Medium grade sandpaper
Lint-free cleaning cloths
Paint brushes
2 different colors of chalk paint
Warm water
Finishing wax or latex polyurethane
Clean toothbrush

If you’re trying to create a distressed, shabby chic look on a piece of furniture or home décor, you can get it done cheaply and with little effort. Here’s how.

Step 1 - Make Preparations

Use your sandpaper to buff out any deep marks or imperfections that you don't want on the piece you're distressing, and wipe any residue off of the wood with a cleaning cloth. Then, take your paintbrush and apply a base coat of chalk paint to the wood. Give the paint enough time to dry completely before continuing.

Step 2 – Apply the Vaseline and Top Coat

When the base coat paint is dry, use your fingers to apply Vaseline to the areas of the surfaces where you want the base coat to show through. If you don’t like the feel of petroleum jelly on your fingers, use a small paint brush instead. Also note that it spreads easily, so make sure you choose the areas carefully and don't use too much. Apply the Vaseline to the raised sections, edges, and corners of your piece as well as to the areas around pulls and handles. Once you've finished covering all of the areas you want distressed, use your paint brush to spread the top coat over the entire piece. Allow enough time for the paint to dry thoroughly and, if necessary, apply a second coat.

Step 3 - Create Distressed Effects

When the top coat of paint is completely dry, begin distressing the surface with sandpaper. Work the areas where you rubbed on the petroleum jelly, as the paint in these areas should come off easily. Continue to any of the other areas you would like to distress. Keep in mind that it's best to go slow and work in small sections. It’s easy to add more effects, but difficult to remove them if you’ve added too much.

Step 4 - Protect Your Piece

Immerse a clean cloth into warm water and squeeze out any excess liquid. Use it to wipe any residual sanding dust from the surface of your piece and then dry the wet areas with a new cloth. If you're using wax to protect your piece, apply it to the surface in circular movements. Use the toothbrush to get the wax into crevices that are too difficult to reach otherwise. Allow the wax to sit for about 15 minutes, and then buff the surface to create a sheen. The more buffing you do, the shinier your surface will become. If you're using latex polyurethane to protect your piece, be sure to read the directions provided by the manufacturer before you begin. Apply the product to your piece in a well-ventilated area. Brush the polyurethane in one direction, along the grain of the surface. Allow it to dry completely, and then lightly sand the surface. If necessary, apply a second coat and sand it as well.