Distressing Paint with Glaze and Stain

For a really long time I heard people referencing glaze when distressing painted furniture. After a ridiculous amount of time and a few clueless hardware reps, I finally found out that glaze runs about $15 a pint and can be found in the decorative painting section with the crackle mediums and stuff. So, how do you use it? Well, it’s super easy! First, do the primary layer of your finish. I stained the top of this piece by brushing on Minwax stain in Gunstock. On the lower half, I painted two coats Behr’s latex paint in Mermaid Treasure.

Let the paint dry, then sand the edges with 150 grit paper wherever normal wear would take place.

Next you need to make your glaze. I use Valspar Tintable Glazing Medium, with a ratio of 4:1. If I want it darker I use 3:1, always with glaze in the higher amount. You don’t need a lot of stain to make the glaze dark.

Use a rag to wipe it onto your surface, working it into the crevices and over the flats. It’s ok if it’s a bit dark at first.

Let it sit for about 30 seconds to a minute or so while you work over other parts of the piece. Then wipe it off with a clean rag.

If it looks a bit too dark or streaky, dip a clean rag into water and wipe off the dark portions.

See how it’s a bit less intense? You’ve got a good window to work with the glaze and get the finish you want. Let it dry, then you can leave it as-is so it distresses more with use or give it a coat or two of polycrylic to protect it. I use spray polycrylic so it gets into all the little nooks and crannies.

That’s it! It’s a really simple way to add some distress and wear to freshly painted furniture, and it looks fantastic!


26 thoughts on “Distressing Paint with Glaze and Stain

  1. I have done some distressing before but have never used the glaze. I just use straight stain in the method you describe. Can you tell me what the purpose of the glaze is? Is it necessary for a better finish?

    1. The glaze is useful if you want to use paint instead of stain, since it dilutes it without being watery. When used with stain, I like it because I get a lot more workable time on the finish. And the fact that I can remove some with water, which is a lot more difficult with stain. But, you can totally do it without the glaze. If you’re wanting a bigger range of colors, glaze is good to mix with paint.

      1. Thanks! I really appreciate the quick reply! I’m actually begining the distressing stage of another project this week and wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything!

  2. quick question…. I did this technique but now my furniture is sticky. do I need to seal it with a poly or does it take so many days to dry? has this ever happened to you? did I totally screw something up? HELP!

    1. Same thing for my project! EEKS! I am worried that I will have to try to remove everything and start over but I am not even certain how I will do that!!! I guess I am showing my rookie ability!!

    1. Love that box! I would paint the black first, let it dry a day or two, then a coat or two of the green and sand it down. I’ve never used the water/ammonia approach. Topping the whole thing with a glaze at the end will make the green paint look more worn in and vintage.

      1. Thank you for the quick response. What I’ll end up doing I suppose is taking a few spare board samples and trying the two different ways you mentioned.

        That is, sanding vs. water/ammonia and I’ll let you know how they compare.

        Thanks again!

  3. I’m just getting ready to paint a newly made headboard and thought I would try your technique…one thing I’m not sure of is the glaze and stain…are they both water based products? The can of stain looks like mine but it’s oil based and my glaze is water based…can you mix them? You also mentioned that you could rub it off with a dampened rag so that leads me to believe it’s got to be water based. Please advise…thanks!

    1. Hi Wendy, I’m actually that rebel who uses latex/water over oil. So far I haven’t had a problem, at least with my distressed finishes. I’ve had no problems with them mixing together.

  4. I’m a little confused about the the glaze and stain. I see in your photos Valspar and a can of minwax. Are you mixing these two? I am new at this and am trying to match a beautiful rustic turquoise finished piece of furniture (I want to get that effect on a piece of unfinished furniture. I am patient just confused about the glaze mixture. Thanks

    1. Hi Christine, yes, I’m mixing the valspar glazing medium with a minwax stain. It allows the stain to be a bit more permeable, so you can wipe off any excess with a wet rag. That way you have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to the application. If you’re not ready for glazing, you can buy a dark furniture wax and work with that. I’ve used the Annie Sloan dark wax, and it’s gorgeous. I think most hardware stores should carry furniture waxes. Always test out your glaze or wax on a piece of scrap wood first if you’re wanting a specific look. I tend to just slap it on and enjoy the surprise!

      1. I just posted my question yesterday and already today there is an answer. Thank you so much. I will try both the wax and stain mixture on spare pieces to see which I do better with. Thanks so much for the advice! Now I am even more excited to try the two approaches!

  5. Hi! I wasn’t clear on your answer above– are the stain and glaze both water-based? I’m really looking forward to trying this out this week!

    1. They are not, the stain is oil based and the glazing medium is water based. Had no problems mixing

  6. Ana Ruth
    Hi? Thank so much Fantastic tutorial and very complete my proyet was my furniture No had problem.

  7. did you start with an unfinished or sanded piece of furniture? I have an old dresser that I want to distress, it is stained and old finish on it, can I paint right over that or do I need to sand it first and prep?

    1. I built this piece, so it was raw wood when I started. If you have a clear coat on your piece already, you can prep it easy by wiping on liquid deglosser from the hardware store. Should be fine to paint after that.

  8. Hi,

    Thank you so much for this post! This will be my first project and I want the exact effect with turquoise that your talking about.

    I have read about using miniwax past finishing wax or polycrylic. I am wondering if there is a difference? Why someone would use one over the other?

    I am also wondering if you do prep work on a piece that is already painted. Have a dresser from CL that is painted a glossyish white. I’d prefer to just paint over it. Should I sand a little though?

    Thanks so much!

    1. If your piece has any kind of lacquer or finish on it, it’s best to rub some liquid deglosser over it so the paint has something to stick to. The paste wax will be a more matte finish, but easier to work with. The polycrylic will be slightly more durable (in my opinion, because I have small children and it’s easier to wipe messes off a smooth finish vs a wax one) and a bit more reflective. Though the wax will still repel water and stains too, and won’t mark as easily as polycrylic can. Really, they’re about equal, so you can’t make a bad choice, it’s mostly would you rather have a flexible vs smooth finish.

Comments are closed.