Tutorial: Easy (No Sandpaper) Distressed Finish

I was given this blue peg shelf from a fellow vendor at Artique...thanks Meg! I decided it would be a great way to display some things my husband and I have collected from our trips to Maine (we love Maine). The problem: bright blue paint that doesn't go with our bedroom color scheme.

Follow these simple steps to see how I quickly and inexpensively created a distressed look without sandpaper!
STEP 1: Apply tan or white based acrylic paint, lightly in scattered uneven strokes, to one area of your work using the the wide part of a foam brush.

STEP 2: Immediately after applying the paint, use a sheet of foam packing material (or another non-absorbent material) to wipe the paint strokes. Be careful to blend the paint into the wood in the direction of the grain. You usually see this material packed around electronics like televisions and printers.

Continue STEP 1 and 2 until the entire surface has been covered. It's important that you do this process in sections, as acrylic paint dries quickly and the blending process must be done before the paint dries completely.

STEP 3: With a sage color acrylic paint (or other color of your preference) use the pointed tip of the foam brush and paint streaks unevenly over the white washed affect. Again, be sure to work in sections. This second coat of paint helps to add some more color depth.

STEP 4: Again before the paint has a chance to dry, use your trustee sheet of foam material and blend and wipe in the direction of the grain.

Repeat STEPS 3 and 4 until the entire surface of your work has been covered.


  1. Thank you so much for visiting my blog!!! And leaving such a sweet comment! I love your site - and I love this distressed bookshelf. You did an amazing job! That's such a pretty color.

  2. Nice step by step instructions and pictures! I learn something today, maybe we will give this a try some day.