Vintage Chippy Finish Tutorial

Aging furniture can be a bit of a process, and these stools were no exception. There are a lot of paints out there to make this easier and quicker (chalk or milk paint especially) but for those of you who like to use what you already have and save a little cash, this tutorial is for you! For a less dramatic finish, choose tones that don’t contrast as much as white and dark brown. Perhaps a honey stain and turquoise paint, or cherry with red paint. There are so many possibilities for this style!

Step 1 – Stain your piece and apply petroleum jelly

I brushed on one coat of Rustoleum’s Ultimate Stain in Golden Oak, then wiped off after 3 minutes. I’m in a very high humidity area so any longer and the stain gums up. Stain also requires a longer dry time here, so I left these to dry overnight even though the can says ready in one hour. Once it’s dried, grab a big jar of petroleum jelly and smear it on your stool. I liberally applied it to every hard edge and seam, as well as on the center of the flat fronts. This will keep paint from sticking to the stained wood to really get a distressed look.

Step 2 – Apply touches of accent color

I wanted to have traces of red to pop through the distressing so it looks like these stools have had many lives and coats of paint. Using a very dry brush I applied latex semi-gloss red paint in several areas to pop through after distressing. There was no rhyme or reason to where I applied, I just brushed until I felt there was enough on the piece. Let it dry for a few hours before your topcoat.

Step 3 – Apply Topcoat

Since I wanted the main color of the chair to be white, I dry-brushed on two coats of semi-gloss latex white paint. The first coat will look very shabby, and rather ugly. Don’t be afraid!

After the second coat things start to come together. I didn’t worry about full-coverage either. Let your brush dry out where it will, like on ends and edges. It’s supposed to look worn and used, not perfect.

After two coats of paint your stool will look more normal, but still a bit streaky. This is good. It will make the sanding process a whole lot easier!

Step 4 – Sand, sand, sand!

I used 150 grit sandpaper and a palm sander and just tore into the paint. I kept telling myself to keep going, and sand more off. The beauty of it is you can always sand more, or go back to add in more paint. If you don’t like how it looks, you can add another color over what you have and sand that down again. This is a very flexible finishing method! Just keep going until you like how it looks. And if you don’t, you still have some options. I felt the white was still a bit harsh, so I decided to glaze it up!

Step 5 – Apply Glaze

I use Ralph Lauren’s glazing medium (typically found in the specialized finishing section of the paint aisle with the crackle mediums) and tint with dark stain. I brushed it on and let it sit for about 10 minutes then worked it in with a damp cloth. It stayed a bit streaky, but fits in with the grain of the wood and chipped paint. These chairs look worn in and well-loved! It’s a process that took about three days to do, but it was well worth it! These Vintage Barstools have a unique, customized finish that really makes them stand out.



14 thoughts on “Vintage Chippy Finish Tutorial

  1. You are really good at this! I’ve looked at a number of your furniture makeovers – saw you on Hometalk, and I’m am so following you. 🙂

  2. Love the look, but am curious about the petroleum jelly. Does it lose its stickiness as you progress through the project? Is there a point in the process where you wipe it away as much as possible? It would seem to me (the non-expert in such matters) that it would leave residue, but maybe the sanding takes care of that. Can you reassure me by letting me know if I’ve misinterpreted anything? Thanks!

    1. If it doesn’t sand off during the distressing, it wipes off after. My stools are in no way sticky or greasy. The PJ just acts as a barrier between the layers to keep the paint from adhering well. Once I sand the paint off, the PJ goes too!

  3. I’m going to be doing this finish on the Ana’s Rustic Console Table that I just built. What did you use for a top coat? Wax or Poly?

    1. It depends. If you want the piece to still chip over time, wax. If you get it to just the perfect look and you want it to stay that way forever…poly for sure.

  4. killer b the look on these stools is incredible! my question is similar to lucys about the pj….did you apply a liberal coat to the entire chair or just in the joints and along the edges? My thinking is that if the chair is covered then no paint would stick at all. thanks for making this available to those who like yourself don’t mind spending a day building/sanding/painting to create something that will last years to come at the same time saving some cash for the next fun project!

    1. Hi Mike! I applied the pj anywhere I didn’t want paint to stick. So that meant corners, edges, and seams on the seat where the planking is. I also smeared a little here and there in the middle of boards to make it look more weathered. You can always go easy on the pj and just sand more, but it certainly does save on time!

  5. Love this tuturial. The stools look great! Have shared your tuturial on my blog. Will be trying this out. Thank you :-))

  6. killer b, I just finished steps 1-2, let dry for 2 hours. When I started on step 3 the red paint just wiped off when I applied the white. I kept on trying and the red and white started to mix together…help!

    1. Do you know if your paints are both oil based or latex? Perhaps if they’re different, it’s not interacting well. Otherwise I’d say give it more time to cure before applying the second color. Best of luck!

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