Using Vaseline to Distress Furniture

If you are looking for an easy paint technique to make a piece look old or distressed, well, you have come to the right place! I am sharing an easy tutorial for using Vaseline to distress furniture.

If you want a very rustic vintage vibe to your furniture, then this is the trick for you.  It’s easy, inexpensive, and can be used with all different types of paint.

I created a video to share this easy tutorial for using Vaseline to distress furniture.

Although I use spray paint in the video, you are not limited to any particular type of paint or sheen.  The great thing is that since you are trying to achieve the imperfect, chippy paint look, you can’t mess this up!

 Distressing with Vaseline Tutorial

Watch the video tutorial here:

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Tutorial for Using Vaseline to Distress Furniture

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64 thoughts on “Using Vaseline to Distress Furniture

  1. Hi Sara!

    I was just wondering how long you have to let the vaseline dry before applying paint. I was going to brush paint mine after applying vaseline. Thanks!

    1. Vaseline is grease, it won’t dry, at lease not in our lifetime!! Great idea to use it, then just wipe off.

    1. I would suggest a dark stain under the paint if you’re painting on raw wood – just so the distressing really shows. I don’t think the vaseline affects the paint or stain in any way. Good luck!

    1. Yes, I would. If you’re using a water based paint, use a water-based sealer (like a polycrylic) and use an oil-based sealer (polyurethane) if you’re using an oil-based paint. Good luck!


  3. Can you paint a color underneath, let it dry, add the Vaseline and paint a different color on top so that the bottom color come through when you rub off the Vaseline? I

  4. This is awesome! Thank you for posting this. Out of curiosity, if I paint a piece first, use vasaline where I want to distress it, and then paint over everything with another color, when I rub off the Vaseline would the original color show thru?

  5. Hey Sara.. Thank you very much for this tip. I make furniture and I love making the rustic furniture where I use wire cup brushes to expose the wood grain structure and then I paint and scrap the excess paint and the final products are amazing but your technique of using Vaseline has given me a new idea.. Once I have a few pieces using your technique I will send you the images.. Thanks once again…

  6. Hi Sara! Your videos are so inspiring! Can I use rustoleum paint to stain the wood, put the vasoline on, then use the same rustoleum paint I used the first time? It is an actual paint, and not spray paint? Thanks again, you’re very talented!! ~Danielle

  7. If I use vaseline and chaulk paint will I be able to seal the wood with polyurerhane? I want to do the top of a kitchen island.

  8. Could you please give complete written instructions for”How to Distress Furniture
    Using Vaseline? I can’t watch Videos. I love your site but I just can’t watch your
    Videos. Thank you, Janet. jwt

  9. tres joli,, je suis tombée sur votre publication sur pinterest,, je vais essayer votre methode avec de la vaseline sur mes meubles ,, merci 🙂

  10. Omg! This is a simple great idea! This will save so much time and the muscles in my hands from sand papering. Love it, thanks for sharing!!

  11. This Vaseline trick also works when you are painting large objects and find things difficult to tape off. Like door locks and handles (cars and house)

  12. Sara…brilliant idea. What do you do to the top and sides? It would be odd to have them in perfect condition when the top and are so nice. I am in Lafayette where Purdue University is. Are you close?

  13. So my understanding is that the vaseline technique is in the place of chalk painting. So u r using the vaseline to create the wear marks that you would typically sand if instead if u were using chalk paint. Is this correct? Also, since you are not using chalk paint (i love the idea of being able to use spray paint!) what time of spray paint should be used? Flat, latex etc? What are the various pros and cons? I do a lot of smaller items about the size of the one in your video and then I stencil quotes etc on them. Wondering if the type of spray paint that I use for the top coat will effect the ability to have the stencil paint adhere, etc. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Vincent. Yes, the vaseline technique takes the place of sanding and is great if you want a highly distressed piece. I would recommend a flat paint (I usually use Valspar or Rustoleum)just because I think it looks better. I am a little concerned about your stencil paint though. I assume it’s a water-based paint and most spray paint is oil-based. You can use this vaseline technique with any latex paint as well – which may help if you want to use stencil paint over it. I hope I helped. Good luck!

  14. I just completed two projects. One was a table I painted black first, applied vaseline, and then painted white. All spray paint. Except I applied the vaseline over larger areas so it looked “chippy”. Turned out great.

    The second piece was an armoire I’ve had for years. It was white. I left it white. Again,k applied vaseline in large swaths all over the piece. Then spray painted it Vintage Teal by Rustoleum 2X and wiped off vaseline with a towel after paint was dry. Painted the hardware and drawers in side of the doors bright Apple Red. It is amazing.

    This was so much easier than using chalk paint and distressing. . Plus, you can use any paint sheen.

    will be posting on my blog next week if you want to check them out.

  15. I have a question. My husband built a king sized bed frame this weekend for me out of wood. He has left it up to me on how I want to paint or stain it. So this is a piece that is made out of pine and cider that is untreated in anyway. Working with a blank canvas. I want it to be an off white with dark stained distressed edges. Much like how your after looks like here.
    Would I be able to stain it with an oil based stain, vasoline the edges, prime it, then paint with a normal interior paint. Then wipe/sand the edges. I don’t want to use spray paint. Would the paint adhere to the stain alright? WOuld it peel off? Do I need to use a water based stain(I’m not a fan of the dark colors in the water based compared to the Kona or Jacobean in the oil based I found). Help I’m confused as to what to do to take my fresh new wood and make it look old and distressed.

    1. Hi Robyn, You could use this technique with vaseline. Definitely stain it first – I always use oil based stain, and you can paint over it. Stain soaks into the wood unlike paint that just sits on top of the wood. Your paint won’t peel since it’s still has raw wood (even though it’s been stained) underneath. Another option is just to stain, paint and then sand the edges. That may be your best best! Good luck!!

  16. Does this method have to be used with spray paint?

    Or could I put latex paint on top of Vaseline using a paint brush?

    I see a concern that the vaseline would possibly soread…