AMERICANA® DECOR
CHALKY FINISH

Ultra-matte paint for home decor

TIPS & TECHNIQUES


Distressing Techniques

TIP: When working on a large surface, work one section at a time. Rinse rag clean from time to time or use multiple rags.

TIP: You can distress before or after waxing. There is less mess when distressing AFTER waxing. However, additional wax should be applied over sanded (unsealed) areas.

with water

A simple way to distress a piece is by simply using a damp, soft rag. This method can be done when Chalky Finish paints are applied over an existing finish or another Chalky Finish paint color. Water distressing should be done within 15-45 minutes of paint application for best results. If paint has had time to dry, you will need to distress with sandpaper instead.

  1. Wet a rag with clean water.
  2. Wring out excess water.
  3. Rub over areas you wish to distress until the desired amount of paint is removed.

with sandpaper

Using sandpaper to distress a piece gives more control over the finished look. Paint should be dry before sanding.

TIP: Don't use steel wool to distress over Chalky Finish paint; it will leave a gray stain.

  1. Select a fine grit sandpaper to start such as a 220-grit.
  2. Use a light touch, unless you want to take it down to the bare wood and go over the raised areas, edges, handles, etc. Imagine where the natural wearing would be and use sandpaper to mimic the passing of time.
  3. Use more pressure or larger grit sandpaper to remove more or all paint in distressed areas.

If the piece has an image transfer or stenciled design on it, distress with a small piece of creased/folded sandpaper. Apply pressure and pull in one direction across the image. You don't need to sand back and forth as when you are smoothing out a surface.

Using Resists to Distress

A resist acts just like it sounds: it provides a barrier between the bottom layer and the coat of paint you apply on top. The topcoat of paint will not adhere to the resist, allowing the bottom color to show through. There are two main types of resists that are readily available and easy to use: hard wax and petroleum jelly.

with hard wax

To use wax, rub a wax candle or bar of paraffin wax heavily over the areas where you want the color below to show through. Make sure you wipe away any loose wax with a clean, dry cloth before applying topcoat. Areas coated in the resist will allow the topcoat to be easily removed.


with petroleum jelly

To use petroleum jelly, use a soft rag, brush, or fingertips to apply to areas where you don't want the paint to stick. When applying the next layer of paint over the petroleum jelly, make sure not to brush over it too many times. If you do, the brush will start to pick up and spread the jelly to other parts of the piece. If you are working on a larger furniture item, you might want to work in smaller sections, washing and drying the brush periodically to prevent a build-up of the petroleum jelly. Make sure you remove all petroleum jelly when top coat is dry.

Layering Colors

Americana® Decor™ Chalky Finish paints are beautiful when layered and then distressed to reveal multiple layers of color underneath. It can be fun to have a bright, vivid color peeking out from underneath a more muted tone. Visible layering of colors gives the impression of heirloom furniture that has been around for generations, finding its home in differently-styled rooms.

steps for layering colors

To use wax, rub a wax candle or bar of paraffin wax heavily over the areas where you want the color below to show through. Make sure you wipe away any loose wax with a clean, dry cloth before applying topcoat. Areas coated in the resist will allow the topcoat to be easily removed.

  1. Apply basecoat color. Let dry.
  2. Apply resist of your choice.
  3. Apply contrasting color over entire piece. Let dry.
  4. Use sandpaper to remove the topcoat of paint on resist areas. Begin with light pressure to ensure only the top layer is removed.
  5. If more intense distressing is desired, increase pressure or use coarser grit sandpaper.
  6. When satisfied with look, remove dust and apply Americana® Decor™ Crème Wax or Varnish to seal.

TIP: Repeat steps 1-5 to add a third layer of color to the piece by sanding down just enough to see the second layer in some spots and the third layer in others.

Drybrushing Technique

Drybrushing is a technique that allows a lot of brush strokes and underlying color to show through. It is a simple technique to get an aged, weathered look.

steps for drybrushing

  1. Apply basecoat. Let dry.
  2. Load a wide, dry chip brush with a very small amount of a contrasting color.
  3. Blot brush on a paper towel to remove any excess.
  4. Use long strokes to lightly apply paint, dragging along the surface.
  5. Continue over entire piece, reloading as necessary.

TIP: If you prefer a smooth paint application with few brush strokes, dampen your brush before painting.

Stenciling with Chalky Finish

Apply the stencils before distressing or sealing the surface to ensure the image looks like it aged with the piece and isn't just sitting on top of the surface.

steps for stenciling with Chalky Finish

  1. Position stencil. Use stencil adhesive or painter's tape to prevent the stencil from sliding.
  2. Use stencil brush or cosmetic sponge to apply paint inside open stencil areas.
  3. Remove stencil.
  4. Seal finished piece with Americana® Decor™ Crème Wax or Varnish.

TIP: Make sure to blot most of the paint off the brush or sponge before applying to the stencil. This helps prevent paint from bleeding under the stencil. Do several light applications for best results.

Crème Waxes

TIP: To achieve a metallic look, Clear Crème Wax can be tinted with acrylic metallic paint. Other colors can be achieved by mixing with other water-based paints. Unlike Americana® Decor™ Crème Waxes, oil-based waxes cannot be mixed with paint and therefore limit the finishing possibilities.

applying clear wax

  1. Use a brush or lint-free rag to apply. Immediately wipe off any excess.
  2. Allow the first coat of wax to dry and then apply a second coat. Test it to make sure it isn't sticky or tacky. Then add more wax. Thin coats are best. Too much wax will be difficult to buff and may result in a splotchy finish.
  3. Use a clean, light color cloth to buff. (The dyes in colored fabrics may discolor the finish.) For a glossier sheen, buff the wax as soon as it is no longer tacky.

TIP: To achieve a washed look, Clear Crème Wax can be tinted with a lighter paint color before application.

TIP: When using Chalky Finish paint on fabric, such as a chair seat, wax can be used as a finish to help protect the paint and make it easier to clean. It will not crack like other brands of wax will.


using dark waxes

Light Golden and Deep Brown Crème Waxes will give the piece a very different finished look. Darker waxes change the intensity of the color significantly, so test on a small area before applying to entire piece.

The most important thing about using darker waxes is they must be applied over the Clear Crème Wax while it is still fresh. If not, the darker waxes will seep into the paint and won't be workable. Also, the paint will become permanently discolored.

Use the same basic method for applying Clear Crème Wax. Wipe back the Light Golden or Deep Brown Crème Wax immediately, leaving color in crevices.

TIP: If the color is darker than desired, use a clean rag to apply Clear Crème Wax over the areas that are too dark. Then use a clean rag to remove excess color.

TIP: If the Light Golden or Deep Brown Crème Wax will be added to areas distressed with sandpaper, make sure raw wood areas are sealed with Clear Wax first. The darker waxes will stain the wood on any unsealed painted areas.

Americana® Decor™ Stain Blocker

Finding a unique piece at a garage sale or flea market can be a fun and rewarding experience. However, you never really know what might be hidden on the surface of your new piece. There are many different stains and oils that may have been applied or naturally accumulated on the surface over the years (such as kitchen grease on cabinets or tables). In addition, some surfaces may have finishes that have worn away, or contain deep scratches, which may expose old stains or natural tannins found in many types of wood. These unforeseen surface conditions can interfere with the performance and appearance of Americana® Decor™ Chalky Finish paint, waxes and varnishes. To prevent natural tannins, scratches, stains, oils, and other unknowns from penetrating and bleeding through your newly painted surface, we recommend applying a base coat of Americana® Decor™ Stain Blocker prior to painting.

Clean-up & Painted Surface Care

Americana® Decor™ Chalky Finish paints are water-soluble. Brushes and other tools will clean easily with soap and water.

To clean a finished piece, use soap and water on a soft rag or kitchen sponge. Clean up food or drink messes as soon as possible.

Rewax the piece depending on how frequently you use it. Infrequently-used pieces can be waxed once a year or less. A kitchen table, on the other hand, should be waxed every three to four months. Consider using one of the Americana® Decor™ Varnishes as the topcoat on any pieces that will get daily use.

TIP: Always clean jar threads before replacing jar lid. Leaving paint on jar threads will make it difficult to remove lids in the future.

Mixing Guide

Americana Decor Chalky Finish paints can be easily mixed to create an endless array of custom colors. When mixing your paints, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Mix in a resealable container to keep for future use (clean household glass or plastic jars work well).
  • For consistent proportions, use a disposable cup to measure paint. Mark a fill line with a permanent marker and cover the mark with transparent tape to prevent it from rubbing off.
  • Stir mixture with a palette knife or a popsicle stick. Small amounts of paint are easier to mix.
  • Mix more paint than you think you'll need for touch-ups and sample swatches.
custom color mixes

Create these colors by mixing Americana Decor® Chalky Finish colors in the proportions listed under each swatch.