Distress Paint with Vaseline!

Hey friends!  Thanks so much for all of your sweet comments and pins on our Mason Jar Planter Box we made our Meme.

As promised I am back to share a quick, easy and of course cute paint method to get that perfect “shanty” finish!

This is so simple and really fun to do!  You will need two paints…. A base coat and a top coat.

For your base coat you can use anything… Acrylic, latex and even spray paint.  I used acrylic here because it’s cheap and dries really quickly.  Here is the color I used.

Do you like my paper plate very professional paint tray?? 😉

First you want to put a coat of your base color on any surface that you want to peek through.  I like to shanty up the edges and corners so that is what I did.  You can paint the whole thing if you want it more distressed.

After that dries it’s time for your Vaseline!  Yup… Vaseline!

I like to get the tubes of it from the baby section at Target because it’s less messy.

Just rub a little vaseline on any surface you want to show through your top coat.  Again I did my corners and edges but you can add more or less depending on your taste!  The Vaseline will keep your top coat from sticking.

This is great because it softens your hands in the process ;-)!

After you have applied your vaseline it is time for your top coat!  I used latex paint for mine.  I do think it distresses the best, but you can also use acrylic.  Mine is an Olympic color called Off White… Pretty easy!  I put one coat over the entire box. Depending on the color you may want to use two coats.

Now let that dry really good!  Once it is dry it’s time for the fun part!  I use an 80-grit sanding block to distress mine, and you can also use steel wool.  Just rub your corners lightly to reveal the base coat.  The more you sand it the more shanty it will look!  Just sand it until you are pleased with the look!  SO DARN EASY!

Want to see my results???

What do you think??  I love it!  It’s just shanty enough 😉 This works great on furniture as well!

If you missed the whole tutorial on the Mason Jar Planter Box you can click the photo below to check it out!

And as always… We would greatly appreciate you pinning and sharing this tip below! Thanks guys!

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  • Mccorygal

    Instead of paint can you use stain as the base coat?

  • I used this technique on a mixed media canvas several years ago. It’s fun, and magical. lol

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  • chalklady

    Although I am seeing others with my concern, I’m not sure I’m convinced to do this. How can you paint over the splotches of vaseline without picking it up on the brush and spreading it around? I’d like to use the vaseline method based on the WOW results, but I’m not sure how to proceed.

  • Crystal

    I used this on small projects and it worked perfectly. I just used it on a big tank stand and there is Vaseline grease stains smeared all around where I distressed. This has never happened before. Any ideas how to clean it up or cover it up?

    • Hi Crystal,
      We haven’t had this happen but try a little bit of dish soap and a damp cloth!

      • Crystal

        Thank you, I will.

  • Leona Murphy Krivda

    I just had my hubby make me a Old Wooden Tool Box, and I want to do this to it! Hope it comes out as good as yours, Love It!!!

  • Kathi Pica Bogdan

    My project is a large finished picture frame. Do I have to sand it before I begin

  • Joyce

    Love the easy process. How would you work with a frame that has a carving design in the wood?

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  • Lbeam

    Love it!

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  • Amanda Miller-Davros

    Do you think this would hold up in an outdoor setting?

    • For sure if you put an outdoor varnish on it!

  • Donna Currie

    I don’t understand. If you are using sand paper to distress, what is the point of the Vaseline?

    • The vasaline stops the paint adhering as well to the undercoat. It then means that you can remove it easier. But you’re right – you don’t NEED the vasaline, it will just make the removal of coats easier.

  • Bryony Zasman

    I am going to try this on a large mirror I just got off craigslist. The mirror is already a dark mahogany. Would you still paint the first layer if your wood was this color? Or would you go right to the Vaseline?

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  • Amanda Dreyer Ward Bam

    This is gorgeous and so easy! Thank you I am going to try this immediately!

  • asiaclolx

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  • Ronica Ellis

    have you ever done this on metal?

  • Bekah Booher

    Looking for someone to answer this question, Can you use white as your undercoat? Everything I have read says to use a dark color as an undercoat but I am reversing the two and want to have a white undercoat and a plum topcoat.

    • Christopher Knapp

      You can use whichever colour you like as an undercoat. Just make sure you let the base coat dry thoroughly. Note, the undercoat will not show as much with it being white under a darker colour.

    • The light and dark just make a good contrast, if you look at them image you’ll be able to figure out what it will look like if reversed. The beauty of this kind of things is you can use your imagination, and there’s not really a wrong way of doing it. If you don’t like the outcome, paint it again and you’ll have more layers 🙂

  • Andrew Higgins

    Perfect …this helped me figure out the technique I wanted for my latest project!!! Thanks so much for posting this!


  • beth

    Oh you are my hero right now! I have been struggling to figure an easier distress method. Thanks so much for this awesomeness

  • Cora

    You can use a bar of soap instead of the Vaseline. It’s a little less messy to get off your piece and it blocks your top coat.

  • jessie

    I just did the distress on a couple small shelves and found that if you let each layer of paint dry thoroughly and then sand it does the same thing. But no need to cover the entire item with paint, just lightly paint where you want the distressed look after the first coat. I hope that made sence. I think i will find another item and do the same, but take pictures step by step so it makes more sense. I do love the distressed look. Great job on your project! Another thing a person could use is bar soap too 🙂

  • Craftingbunny

    Thank you for this great tutorial – I tried it on a jewellery holder and it worked a treat! http://thecraftingbunny.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/distressed-jewellery-holder/

  • How do you seal it when your done painting? I just did this and it turned out great!

    • We like using Rust-Oleum’s polyurethane… Hope this helps!

      Sent from my iPad

  • I just did this and it worked amazingly well! However, how do I seal the paint after I’m done sanding if I don’t want it to get messed up? Attached is a picture!

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  • Lisa

    LOVE that I found this! Ive got a trunk that I Want to try and do this to! Could I use spray paint instead for the top coat that way I dont have to worry about painting the whole thing with a brush?

    • In principal yes, but acrylic and latex based paints remain rubbery and easy to rub or pick off. But any paint will be able to be sanded off, some just take a bit more elbow grease 🙂

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  • caro

    i love this idea! I found the Vaseline makes it easy for the top coat to rub off and especially because it never dries. Instead of using the jars as planters, I put tea lights in them…looks really cute!

  • Katie Splawn

    Totally giving this a try!

  • Lisa

    Awesome idea! Thank you!

  • Jill P

    I’m worried that the Vaseline will slide all over once I brush on the top coat and I will end up with a slimy mess – did you have this problem? Or am I seriously overthinking the whole process?

    • Theresa Allen

      I did too – but it worked great for me – I did try a roller too, and that was spreading the vaseline. I even did 2 coats before i sanded – Good Luck!

  • Diane

    Candle wax will work the same way. Just rub a candle on the area you want the paint to come off on and paint over and then lightly sand.

    • I have done a tutorial on that as well Diane. I actually prefer this method much more. I like the end result better. Thanks so much!!
      Sent from my iPad

    • Cora

      A bar of soap also works!

  • AngieK

    Has anyone ever tried to sand off spray paint without any vaseline underneath? Basically I had some original wood (with an already old look), and I spray painted it totally white. Then I decided it would look good distressed and found this blog…but I didn’t add vaseline underneath. I’m wondering if I just sanded the spray paint if it would be OK? Or just crumble? I’d rather not paint over the spray paint….

    • Cora

      I have used a palm sander on edges of chairs to give it the distressed look – works great with very little effort.

    • Jessica

      This is probably a little too late for you based on this post being 6 months ago, but I just did a project with some shelves where the first two I just painted and sanded. I thought it turned out okay. Then I saw this post and tried the Vaseline trick and it looked TOTALLY different. It was way more authentic “shanty” looking. Plus, the sanding part was extremely easy. I did some sanding and then I ran a cloth around the edges where I used the vaseline to get the excess off. It’s very true though, any area you put it, the paint will not stick, so if you aren’t sure how much distressing you want, go with less and try to make up for it with your sanding.

  • Juliemara

    What type of paint is the Olympic, my home depot doesn’t carry that brand so I’d like to find something comparable. Matte, flat? etc??

  • Tricia

    Here’s a good chuckle for you… When I tried this I didn’t have any Vaseline, but being a mommy, A&D ointment is a plenty in our household. And it worked SMASHINGLY!! 🙂

  • Kim

    Love it!

  • Jordan

    I absolutely love this, very inspiring
    I’d love to try it with like pink or a bright color underneath, I think that’d be cool
    Thank you for sharing!
    You’re newest follower!!

    • That’s great Jordan! Glad to have you here! We would love to see pics when you try it yourself!

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  • Amanda

    I’m working on a 100-plus year-old transom window. I’ve removed all the paint I possible could (at least 4 coats) and already it looks good. Even the panes were covered with two coats of paint. Gratefully, that paint was easy to remove. I was, however, going to spackle and paint the window but when I saw your idea, well, I’m going to jump all over it. Thanks for sharing.

  • ERIN D.

    If your wood has a knot in it, you will need to use wood sealer or primer before painting, If not, the knot will eventually show through and ruin your project…I learned from experience the hard way.

    Best of luck to all crafters. Get busy and get your hands dirty. It’s such fun! Love this site!

  • Great tip! I love the way it looks

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  • What flowers are used in these jars? I LOVE THEM!!

    • Paula Elam

      Those are called asiatic lillies. they are perenials and will multiple. I have all colors in my flower beds and they are beautiful!

  • Allie Enge

    Just tried this on a door that I repurposed! Love it!!!!! So much easier and cheaper than Annie Sloan and just as good! Check out The Shed on Facebook for the picture

    • Joni

      there are several pages named “The Shed”; which one? or can you email me a pic? jdogjazz@hotmail.com

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  • Kristi

    Love the look! Does the wood remain greasy? How do you get rid of the extra vaseline?

    • Lisa

      When you sand it, the sticky petroleum feeling will disappear.

  • Texsheva

    I’ve also done this using an old candle. Just rub the candle wax on the item and when you paint it won’t stick to the wax and rubs right off with a paper towel!

  • Such a cute idea! I’ll have to try this trick on something.

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  • This is such a great tip! Thanks for sharing. I’m painting picture frames right now…..I’ll have to try it.


  • GREAT idea! Thank you for sharing it! I love the distress look and this looks like it would save a lot on the sanding process.

  • Gigi

    Creative and easy makes a great combination.

  • oooh, what a great tip! I can’t wait to use it! Thanks!!

    Leanne @ Because (I think) I Can

  • Kayla

    Love this and had to try. Had an issue with the paint brush getting globby (if that is a word) from the Vaseline. Any tips for that? Thanks for sharing

    • Geoff Langley

      Try using candle wax. Just use a plain wax candle rub it on. Then very lightly use a brush to knock off any loose globs, and then paint.

  • Great idea. I think I’m going to use this on my dresser I’ll be refinishing!

  • Love your work! I’m a new fan 🙂 I love distressed furniture && everything old {including mason jars 😉 }! You should stop by and checkout my blog sometime! Can’t wait to see what you will do next 🙂

  • Teresa

    How much vasoline do you use?

  • Marci

    Love it! Think I am going to do this with single or two jars for a smaller version too! Thanks for all the tips!

  • Danielle M

    I love all your projects! Have already made the $20 wall shelves, this will be next on my To Do List, thanks for the great tutorials!

  • Anne

    I will try this. Since now I used candlewax or Savon de Marseille but I think Vaseline will work better.
    Thank you for such a good idea,
    Anne (from France)

  • Lindsay

    I absolutely love your blog! You are so talented ! Thanks for the cute mothers day gift idea, I’m in LOVE!

  • Awesome idea!!!

  • Thats a great idea! I’ll have to try this next time I have a painting project.

  • Marnie

    Candle wax has the same effect, just rub the candle along the areas you want to show through your second coat of paint.

  • great tutorial!!

  • I like this. What is the purpose of using the vaseline? Does it protect the base color? I’ve done double colors and sanded before …but never used vaseline. Good job.

  • WOW. this is SUCH a cool idea!!!!! love it!

  • Love this!