wet distressing.

A few weeks ago I had a few extra minutes during my lunch hour so I stopped off at a local Goodwill store.  I didn’t find much, but I did pick up a couple of gold frames.

I thought both of these would make good candidates for using a wet distress technique.

I started by removing the glass and the floral prints from each frame.  Then I painted the larger one using two coats of Dixie Belle’s Midnight Sky and the smaller one using two coats of Fluff.

As soon as the paint was dry I used a dampened terry cloth rag (a nubby cloth will work best for this) and simply rubbed paint off the raised surfaces.

It’s that easy.

Here are a couple of tips on wet distressing.

First, it works best on surfaces like this that have a raised design that you want to highlight.

Second, it’s a great choice when you want to distress down to another layer (in this case, the original gold of the frames) without going down to the wood underneath.  You’ll have a bit more control over that with wet distressing as opposed to sandpaper.

Third, it works best on paint that has just dried.  The longer you give the paint to cure, the harder it will be to wet distress.

Finally, it works best with a chalk style paint like Dixie Belle because this kind of paint is ‘reactivated’ with water (again, before it has had too much time to cure).

Another great benefit of wet distressing is that it doesn’t create any dust, which makes it perfect for winter indoor work (especially if you work in your living room like I do).

You can reveal as little or as much of the base color as you like.  And if you remove too much paint, just put more paint back on over it and try again.

When you achieve the look you were going for, simply add a coat of clear wax for protection and call it good.

I kept the original floral print in the smaller frame.

But I changed out the print in the larger frame.  I didn’t care for the red floral that came with it, so I went with this Eiffel Tower print instead.

What do you think?  An improvement?

Have you tried wet distressing?  Or do you have any other techniques that you are partial to?  If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

As always, thank you to Dixie Belle for providing the paint used on these frames.

You can find Dixie Belle products here.

17 thoughts on “wet distressing.

  1. Oh a definite improvement! I have done wet distressing but only by accident. As in I hated something and tried to wipe it off and found that I liked how it looked afterwards!😂 These are both lovely. I like when you show small projects like this. Inspiring ideas for cold weather.


  2. Wow I would have never thought to do this. I like how it changes not only the look of the frame but the feeling it now emotes. The exchange of the red floral for the Eiffel Tower is a perfect pairing. This opens up a whole new purchasing market while thrift shopping. Thanks Linda! 😍


  3. Very pretty Miss Quandie (-; In the realm of “great minds think alike”, I spray painted a small crate in dark brown yesterday so that I could paint it with white chalk paint today and wet distress it! I’ve almost ruined a few projects with over-enthusiastic sanding…..


  4. In the past, I have found that wet distressing Annie Sloan Chalk Paint has left dark, almost oily looking stains on my paint finish. Am I doing something wrong? Have you ever encountered this? I am going to paint the legs to a custom built farm table tomorrow and would love to be able to wet distress so my newly applied dark stain is what shows up under my Dixie Bell Fluff. But I don’t want to ruin my finish with those oily looking splotches. Any advice would be appreciated!


    1. I haven’t used ASCP in years, so I can’t really speak to that product. I’ve never had that result with Dixie Belle paint though. There are any number of reasons you could end up with stains through your paint (stain bleed thru, tannin bleed thru from the wood, oily residue on your piece) but I can’t think of any reason why wet distressing (with water) would leave oily looking splotches.


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