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!


  1. Jenny on August 22, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    Hi. I was wondering if you could post a picture of the off white top coat you used specifically?

  2. WJennings on August 6, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    After I paint and sand the edges of the piece I have painted, I often stain those sanded edges to give an older look. Do you think that the vaseline method work with this, if I wash the edges with soap and water before applying the stain?

  3. Mccorygal on January 9, 2016 at 10:42 am

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

  4. Carole on September 27, 2015 at 10:51 am

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

  5. chalklady on June 23, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    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.

  6. Crystal on May 26, 2015 at 8:03 am

    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?

    • Shanty2Chic on May 26, 2015 at 8:06 am

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

      • Crystal on May 26, 2015 at 8:10 am

        Thank you, I will.

  7. Leona Murphy Krivda on April 23, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    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!!!

  8. Kathi Pica Bogdan on March 21, 2015 at 10:47 am

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

  9. Joyce on January 22, 2015 at 2:28 pm

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

  10. Lbeam on August 11, 2014 at 1:07 am

    Love it!

  11. Amanda Miller-Davros on May 16, 2014 at 3:37 pm

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

    • Shanty2Chic on May 16, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      For sure if you put an outdoor varnish on it!

  12. Donna Currie on May 13, 2014 at 4:35 am

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

    • Luke on December 15, 2015 at 7:12 pm

      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.

  13. Bryony Zasman on April 10, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    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?

  14. Amanda Dreyer Ward Bam on January 11, 2014 at 9:48 am

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

  15. asiaclolx on November 21, 2013 at 9:55 pm

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  16. Ronica Ellis on September 1, 2013 at 8:21 am

    have you ever done this on metal?

  17. Bekah Booher on July 11, 2013 at 8:44 am

    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 on December 2, 2013 at 11:14 am

      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.

    • Luke on December 15, 2015 at 7:03 pm

      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 🙂

  18. Andrew Higgins on April 16, 2013 at 2:05 pm

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

  19. beth on March 6, 2013 at 5:42 am

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

  20. Cora on February 5, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    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.

  21. jessie on January 18, 2013 at 11:56 am

    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 🙂

  22. Craftingbunny on January 13, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Thank you for this great tutorial – I tried it on a jewellery holder and it worked a treat!

  23. Katie Rowdy Grothaus on December 20, 2012 at 12:29 am

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

    • Shanty2Chic on December 20, 2012 at 5:20 am

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

      Sent from my iPad

  24. Katie Rowdy Grothaus on December 20, 2012 at 12:25 am

    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!

  25. Theresa Allen on October 26, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    I have heard and seen other vaseline distressed, but decided to go for it after reading your post – I tried it with spraying the paint, brushing and rolling – I think it turned out pretty good! Thanks for sharing and i enjoy your blog – My finished table will be posted soon, and hope to link to you here to share your projects too! Hugs & Smiles, Theresa

  26. Lisa on October 15, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    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?

    • Luke on December 15, 2015 at 7:10 pm

      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 🙂

  27. caro on September 26, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    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!

  28. Katie Splawn on September 4, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Totally giving this a try!

  29. Lisa on August 20, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Awesome idea! Thank you!

  30. Jill P on August 16, 2012 at 10:34 am

    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 on October 26, 2012 at 1:42 pm

      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!

  31. Diane on August 16, 2012 at 4:56 am

    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.

    • Shanty2Chic on August 16, 2012 at 5:53 am

      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 on February 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      A bar of soap also works!

  32. AngieK on August 14, 2012 at 9:07 am

    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 on February 5, 2013 at 1:18 pm

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

    • Jessica on February 20, 2013 at 7:55 am

      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.

  33. Juliemara on August 10, 2012 at 9:51 am

    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??

  34. Tricia on August 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    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!! 🙂

  35. Kim on July 28, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Love it!

  36. Jordan on July 27, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    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!!

    • Shanty2Chic on July 27, 2012 at 3:54 pm

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

  37. Amanda on June 27, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    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.

  38. ERIN D. on June 16, 2012 at 11:29 am

    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!

  39. Lisa on June 9, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Great tip! I love the way it looks

  40. Charlotte on May 27, 2012 at 10:30 am

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

    • Paula Elam on July 11, 2012 at 2:31 pm

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

  41. Allie Enge on May 25, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    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 on August 13, 2012 at 8:55 am

      there are several pages named “The Shed”; which one? or can you email me a pic? [email protected]

  42. Kristi on April 29, 2012 at 5:57 pm

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

    • Lisa on January 6, 2016 at 7:56 pm

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

  43. Texsheva on April 28, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    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!

  44. Lindsay on April 24, 2012 at 11:00 am

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

  45. Lex Malla Books on April 2, 2012 at 6:12 pm

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

  46. Melissa Marro on April 2, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    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.

  47. Gigi on April 1, 2012 at 3:51 am

    Creative and easy makes a great combination.

  48. Leanne on March 31, 2012 at 10:41 pm

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

    Leanne @ Because (I think) I Can

  49. Kayla on March 31, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    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 on November 15, 2012 at 8:49 pm

      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.

  50. brookeO on March 31, 2012 at 2:32 pm

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

  51. Jordyn on March 31, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    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 🙂

  52. Teresa on March 31, 2012 at 9:02 am

    How much vasoline do you use?

  53. Marci on March 31, 2012 at 7:19 am

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

  54. Danielle M on March 31, 2012 at 5:04 am

    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!

  55. Anne on March 31, 2012 at 4:54 am

    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)

  56. Lindsay on March 30, 2012 at 11:38 pm

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

  57. Nelly on March 30, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Awesome idea!!!

  58. Janice on March 30, 2012 at 8:59 pm

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

  59. Marnie on March 30, 2012 at 1:06 pm

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

  60. antiquechase on March 30, 2012 at 11:42 am

    great tutorial!!

  61. becky mercado on March 30, 2012 at 10:12 am

    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.

  62. molly stillman on March 30, 2012 at 7:53 am

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

  63. Bridget on March 30, 2012 at 7:50 am

    Love this!

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