Dry Brush Technique for Antiqued Look

Antique by Dry Brush

Despite having 2 children I never really had a chance to decorate a nursery so when I was pregnant with our 3rd I wanted to do just that. Only problem was we were on a really tight budget. I was fortunate enough to be able to find a nightstand with a matching dresser for $10…for both pieces. They were a mess but nothing a little elbow grease, a sander, and some paint couldn’t fix. Check out this Home to Home exclusive post on how to give your furniture an antique look by dry brushing .

Dry Brush Technique


Once we (I say we a lot but when it comes to a lot of the actual work it’s really my husband. I’m just the annoying backseat driver) had it sanded down we painted the bases a beautiful teal which ended up a bit brighter than I wanted. My husband did not want to do traditional antiquing because he hates to sand so we gave it a distressed look without going through all the hassle of actual distressing by using the dry brush technique.

What you’ll need:

Paint colors of choice (body and antique)
Piece of cardboard
Piece of wood to practice
Clean, damp washcloth
Stain of choice

Prepping the Furniture:

  1. First, we removed all of the hardware. We decided we liked the original hardware but if you’re going to be changing the hardware make sure the knob holes will be the same. If not, the knob holes need to be filled now. Put wood filler in the holes and let dry.
  2. Then, we sanded down the nightstand and dresser taking care to thoroughly sand the top (and anywhere you put wood filler) since we knew it would be stained, not painted. Go up to a 220 grit sandpaper.
  3. Once it was sanded we then added a coat of primer to the base/body of the furniture leaving the top bare.
  4. After the primer dried we painted the teal over the entire body of the pieces, again, leaving the top bare and left it to dry.

Dry Brush Technique:

Antiqued by Dry Brush

If you’ve never done a dry brush technique I suggest practicing first to get the hang of it before actually using the dry brush technique on the furniture.

  1. Once the pieces were ready for dry brushing we carefully dipped the paintbrush no more than ¼ of the way into the paint and wiped the excess along the inner edge of the paint can.
  2. We then took a piece of cardboard and brushed back and forth along the cardboard until the paintbrush started to run out of paint giving it dry/bristly streaks…hence the name “dry brushing.”
  3. Once the brush was ready, we put the brush to the dresser and nightstand by making very light, small, brush strokes. (Note: We didn’t cover the entire pieces of furniture with the dry brush technique, just random areas to give it the distressed look.)
  4. Every time the paintbrush seemed to have run out of paint (usually only about 3-5 strokes) we repeated steps 5-7 again.

Finishing the Top:

  1. After the base dried we finished the top. My husband used an orbital sander starting at 100 grit paper and working up to 220 grit paper for an extra smooth feel. For the final sanding he did it by hand so it wouldn’t leave swirl marks.
  2. Once it was sanded he stained it with a water based grey transparent stain.
  3. After it dried he did 3 coats of water based urethane and wet sanded between each coat with 400-600 grit wet sandpaper.

Note: We used water-based stain so there were as little fumes as possible since it was going in a nursery.

Mistakes do happen. If you happen to use too much paint, don’t like how a certain stroke turned out, etc. make sure to quickly wipe it up with the damp washcloth before it dries. It’s a lot easier to take off while the paint is still wet. However, if you decide after it’s dry that there are a couple of spots you don’t like you may be able to paint over the dry brush by using the body paint, letting it dry and starting over. Depending on the original surface, you may need to sand it down lightly first.

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