Wax marbled furniture - how to get a distressed look tutorial

Looking at interior magazines, many of you have probably noticed how distressed furniture gives a room a feel of warmth and a charming, intimate and personal look.
You like that look, but, what if your house is populated by a variety of furniture?
There is a simple and natural wax finishing technique that you may use to give your wooden furniture a uniformly-distressed look. In its traditional form it is done by using only natural products. Keep in mind that, as you do not use any paint, much of the original under-color will show through.
This is also one of the first decorative techniques that I've used more then 13 years ago, while wax marbling a rustic wardrobe with hand painted details.
The bleached transparent wax mixed with white pigment and melted under the spring sun is the best way to give to the furniture that semi-transparent veil of soft, velvety appearance that highlights the wood grain and renews, nourishes and protects furniture.

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Why wax marbling?
Wax, because it is ecological and environment friendly; marbling, because you can decide to leave a more or less thin layer of white pigmented wax combined with different colored wax zones in a way to obtain the marbled effect.

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Before wax marbling
The furniture surface must be clean, the wood uncovered and smooth. This does NOT mean that you have to completely remove every trace of previous paint. As the furniture is treated to give it a more ancient look, perhaps with some antique lace that sticks out from a drawer, it may have some sage-green or turquoise stain involved in the wax marbling play.

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Materials needed:
• Resistant plastic gloves, face masks;
• Wire brush; you have to find one that fits you well and you should practice a bit to find out what is the correct pressure that you should use to get the desired result.
• Steel wool in large quantities; you need it to remove the excess wax from furniture. If you've never done it before, do not risk running out of it right when you were about to finish the job.

Steel wool
• Bleached paste wax that can be found in paint shops; it is transparent when coated and not white. It is us who decide what color it should assume, by adding pigment to the wax. If we want it to be white then we add the white pigment, mixing little by little, like when you make cakes:)
• paste wax n°2, second color, different from the first
• soft wool or flannel rag, for furniture polish

The best place to do the work is outdoors. If you have to do it indoors, ventilate the room. Use gloves and mask; the wax has a pleasant smell, but it is very strong.
You first need to scrub the furniture, moving the wire brush in the wood grain direction in order to open the pores of the wood and to draw a net of fine grooves, where a small amount of wax will remain after the most of it has been removed.
Take a piece of steel wool. Dip the steel wool into the mixture of bleached paste wax and pigment (color n°1) and start covering the furniture surface with circular motion and gentle pressure, in order to let the paste enter into the pores, grooves and cracks.

Wait at least half an hour until the wax dries, that is, hardens.

At that point you should take a new piece of steel wool and dip it into a second color paste wax with which you will wipe the furniture again, this time to remove the most of the former white wax.
You should stop at some point, because you should not remove all of the wax that you have previously coated, but only a part. Which part? Well, as in all recipes, as required, that is as you like.

Polish the furniture just enough to give it the soft shine and reflection that characterizes wax finish.

Dust off the furniture and polish from time to time.


  1. What a wonderful teacher you are. Even I have acquired the confidence to try this technique and get such a beautiful result. Brava.

  2. What a great compliment you gave me! Thank you, I am very pleased.
    Many times I too would have liked to have more support in gaining confidence with some new technique and so I give it willingly :)


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