How To – Dry Brush Painting

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I was able to do some painting on my chair project today, and I thought I’d walk you through my process of dry brush painting while I was at it!


I knew I wanted to paint it with the dry brush technique.  I first learned of dry brush painting from Shaunna over at Perfectly Imperfect.

She painted a beautiful French-styled chest of drawers with dry brushing, and it turned out amazing.  Painting with a dry brush is an easy way to get that Wisteria or Restoration Hardware Look.  It creates thin layers of paint that give an aged, washed look to a piece.



It’s not a hard technique to master, let me walk you through my process.

1. Grab your paint, a brush, and some paper towels.

I was using Annie Sloan French Linen chalk paint as my base color.

2. Dab a bit of paint onto your brush

It’s best to tap it onto your paint lid.

dry brush painting

3. Dab the brush onto your paper towels.

The goal is to blot off almost all of the paint on your brush.  You can always add more paint if it’s not enough, but you can’t take extra paint off once it’s on your piece.

dry brush painting

4. Paint in short strokes

…repeating the process with your brush as the color gets too light.There’s no real magic to it, in fact I think dry brush painting is easier than regular painting.  You don’t have to worry about evenness or getting full coverage, the point is to have it uneven and streaked.

dry brush painting

5. Push the brush into trim or carved details

This will help to get a little bit of paint into the recesses.

dry brush painting

Here is a shot of my paper towel when I was done with the whole chair.  Gives you an idea of just how much paint I dabbed off through the process.

dry brush painting

6. When the first coat is finished, layer on another color.

You can go for high contrast or something more subtle.  I chose ASCP Old White for my second color, and repeated the process with dabbing the paint off the brush.

I didn’t worry about washing out the brush because there wasn’t much of the French Linen on there anyway, and again, the whole goal of dry brushing is to be imperfect.

With the second color, focus on highlighting.

dry brush painting


The difference in color with the Old White painted on is very subtle.

dry brush painting

The right side of the wood has been painted in the white, the left side has not.  You can see how it has added another layer of depth and age to the paint though.

dry brush painting

That’s a peek at the finished product.  Sorry for the super bright yellow of the padding . . . I had some really bad lighting in my kitchen, so the colors are kinda weird.

The whole chair was done in under 20 minutes. That’s another great thing about dry brush painting…the paint dries so quickly!  It’s also a good way to make your expensive chalk paint go farther or to use up that last bit of paint hanging around in the can.

With the fabric I picked, a little bit of blue layered into the paint might be nice, so I’m thinking about adding some hints of Duck Egg. We’ll see. I’ll sleep on it.

I hope that was a helpful walk-through.  If you haven’t given dry-brushing a try, now’s the time!

Linking up to these fun parties:

City Farmhouse,  Ivy & Elephants,  Savvy Southern Style,  Domestically Speaking,

Embracing Change,  Posed Perfection,  Common Ground, Miss Mustard Seed,

Nancherrow,  The Dedicated House

Nightstand Makeover using Fusion Studio Metallics and Giveaway! | Lost & Found

Monday 18th of January 2016

[…] After the bronze was dry to the touch, I dry brushed on some regular Fusion Coal Black paint. (see how to dry brush paint here) […]


Monday 12th of January 2015

In the picture I noticed that it doesn't look like you sanded the chair first. I've heard different opinions on this, some say you have to sand all of the finish away and some say you don't have to with chalk paint, and I just wanted to know your thoughts on it.

The finished chair looks great!


Tuesday 20th of January 2015

Hi Kim. You are right, I didn't sand the chair at all before painting. Here is my take on sanding and chalk paint . . . Sanding before applying chalk paint usually causes problems with your finish. Unlike regular latex, chalk paint will stick to any surface even without any prep (sanding, priming) at all. If you sand first, then you will probably encounter the problem of "bleed through" with your chalk paint. Because chalk paint is porous, it is best to have it painted on top of surfaces finished with some sort of top coat. If the finish underneath the chalk paint is inconsistent (some places have been sanded and the wood is showing through, etc), your finished paint will be speckled with spots of color where the wood stain has bled through. Latex works differently--it's not porous, and it does require sanding or priming to stick to most surfaces. If you want a little more information on how to deal with "bleed through" in chalk paint, this post may help. How to Prep Furniture for Chalk Paint. Thanks for asking a great question!


Saturday 29th of March 2014

Wonderful step by step girl !!! You took the intimidation away for me of seeing how you achieved your look. I want to try this. Can't wait for a pic of the finished project.



Wednesday 19th of February 2014

great seeing your technique. love the effect, and yes it's very RH!


Friday 21st of February 2014

Thank you Debra and thanks for stopping by. Kinda funny . . . I loved the finish myself but actually repainted it a few days ago because it just wasn't working with my fabric. I'll have a new post with the final product soon. Will have to try the gray out again on another piece.

Fotini Roman

Sunday 16th of February 2014

What a beautiful chair!!

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