How to Distress Furniture with Vaseline: Three-Tiered Farmhouse Stand Transformation

January 22, 2018

I've read about the Vaseline distressing method for YEARS and am just finally getting around to trying it. I thought I'd start small just in case it didn't work. So I used a wooden three-tiered farmhouse stand I had on hand that I've always wanted to paint. And if you'd like to learn about yet another nontraditional method of distressing just read to the end of this tutorial to find out those details! 

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Ironically, the piece already had a distressed look. I just didn't want the main color to be black.

At the time I bought this functional accent piece my entire eating area was filled with black furniture. It still is. I have a black hutch with drawers, shelves and a plate rack as well as a matching black sideboard. They're farmhouse style, but still .... so dark. And a true farmhouse table which is also dark since it was literally made from reclaimed wood from a red barn. It was time to lighten things up!

How to Distress Furniture with Vaseline


1. Vaseline, a.k.a. petroleum jelly, either in a tub or a tube (I think a tube would allow you to be more precise in your application.)

2. paintbrush (one you're willing to part with if you can't get the Vaseline out of it -- mine was from the Dollar Tree and it actually cleaned off fine with soap and water.)

3. paint (I used Dixie Belle paint in Fluff -- love that name! FYI: I was given the paint by Dixie Belle about a year ago to use and share my opinion. So I used it for my DIY Upcycled Vintage Jewelry Armoire and loved it! Ironically, it distresses easier than most with sandpaper, but I love the color and the look so much I had to use it for this distress test project as well. )

4. small container to transfer your paint into so that you don't have to dip your Vaseline-covered brush into the original container and risk contaminating it with Vaseline.

5. rubber gloves (optional ) I took mine off as I felt like things got too messy with a glove. I had more control over the amount of Vaseline with just my finger. 

6. Furniture wax (optional)

Decide which areas you would like to "distress." Usually that will be areas where, over time, a piece would have acquired that distressed look naturally due to normal wear and tear. Many times that will be along the outer edges of the piece.

Swipe your finger in the jar of Vaseline and gently rub some of it on the spots you think should have that distressed look. A tube of Vaseline would certainly be less messy. Both jars and tubes can be picked up at the dollar store. I just used what I had on hand. You can also wear rubber gloves if necessary, or even use a cotton swab.  

Paint your piece. As you paint you'll notice that the paint is not sticking to the areas you covered in Vaseline, allowing the original paint underneath to show through -- hence your faux distressed look.

Once the paint is nearly dry (after either one or two coats depending on what your project needs), go back with a wet paper towel and gently wipe off all the Vaseline. And voila!

It was not as easy to do as I thought it would be.While I love the outcome, I found the method imprecise at best since you really don't know how it's going to look when you're done. For instance, it's easy to load on way too much Vaseline. So I tried to err on the side of caution. Now part of me wished that I had used more. But overall I am really happy with the outcome. And no powdery mess like with traditional sandpaper! 

Isn't that just gorgeous? Time-worn patina, the easy way.  

You can seal your final piece with either furniture wax or polyurethane (adds a bit of a shine) depending on your preference. If you're like me and prefer the chalk-painted furniture look, I recommend you use Minwax Paste Finishing Wax. It works nicely over chalk paint without creating a shiny finish. Confession: I was too lazy to wax this time! With regard to food safety and paint, the lemons and limes are faux, and the mandarin oranges only sat on the plate long enough to be photographed so I wasn't worried. 

I originally used a faux succulent on the top tier but decided that more fruits, and more color, were in order.

Hence the mandarin oranges. I thought that they completed the look beautifully.

So here's the before (as reflected in a mirror):

And here's the after:

And if you'd rather just purchase a similar wooden farmhouse-style 3-Tier Round Serving Tray, you can always do that and just skip the work!  

If you enjoyed this post I think you also might enjoy this: 

If you're interested in reading about yet another faux distressing technique I tried and loved, you can read my Faux Distressing With Plaid Layering Block tutorial. Let me know what you think! Which method do you like better -- Vaseline or layering block?

Well, that's it until next time, friends! 
I hope you enjoyed reading about 
How To Distress Furniture with Vaseline: 
Three-Tiered Farmhouse Stand Transformation. 
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Leave a Comment! said...

Hi Kathleen,
I've never done much of the Vaseline method either...never know how much to put on. I think you did a great job with your tutorial showing us how. I'm sure I would like it better than the sandpaper mess. I love the color too, and especially love the tiered stand! Have a great week!

Kathy said...

Great job with the final tiered stand and great tutorial. I like the white better than the stark black. I liked the plaid block, too, but wonder if you could get pretty much the same finish by dry brushing just a bit. Last time in Hobby Lobby, I checked out a metal enamel finish tiered stand and the chipped/rusty stuff edges were part of the smooth finish. Very pricey, though!

My thrift store addiction said...

Looks great! Love the colorful fruit on your tiered tray!

carol@The Red Painted Cottage said...

The distressing turned out perfect! Thanks for sharing at Share Your Style!

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