How To Paint And Age A Picture Frame (Using Chalk Based Paints and Dry Brushing!)

I’m so excited to be sharing one of my favorite painting techniques with all of you today. We’ll be painting and aging a picture frame with chalk-based paints and chalky finish paints. I use this same “dry brush” method to paint almost everything. From picture frames to furniture, it couldn’t be more versatile. It also is so simple that it makes for a great beginner technique, but looks so great even painting pros will love using it.

Dry brushing can be done with really any paint, but I find it easiest to work with chalk-based paints or chalky finish paints. These paints have become so popular that they are now very easy to find and come in a variety of colors. If you can’t find the exact shade you’re looking for, with a quick search online, you can even find recipes for making your own.

Along with the complete step by step directions, I’m also sharing five tips for painting with chalk-based paints and chalky finish paints; this way you’ll quickly move from small scale picture frames to large scale pieces of furniture!


-Picture frame (I found mine in the unfinished wood section of my local craft store for under $4)

-Paint (I am not partial to any brand of chalk-based paint or chalky finish paint. This technique works with all of them!)

-Paintbrush (You can find them in stores like Michaels)

-Sand paper (Same store options)

-Wax (You can usually find this right with the chalky finish paints!)

-Paper towels

-White cloth


One of the nicest perks of using chalk-based paints and chalky finish paints is that *most of the time* there is no prep work needed. You can get right to the fun of painting! I’m using an unfinished frame in today’s tutorial, so I’m ready to paint! If your piece is already painted or chipping, you should hit it with some sand paper to smooth the surface out some.

Tip #1: Speaking of Sanding…There’s Never A Bad Time To Sand

When painting with a technique like this, where you layer colors of paint on top of each other, there really is no bad time to sand. A quick round of sanding can smooth away any brush strokes you may have. It can also give your piece a soft, smooth feeling, which I personally prefer! So throughout this tutorial, I mention times when you may want to sand your piece, but there really is no bad time to do it. Just be sure that after you sand, you wipe away any dust with a damp cloth. You don’t want that dust clumping as you layer on your next paint color!

As soon as your piece is ready to go, get started painting! Your first coat should be your base color. In this case, I chose a white to start with. Whenever possible, go with the grain of your wood. If you can’t see the grain, don’t worry! You can’t mess this part up! Run your finger along the wood both ways, the softer (less grainy) feeling is the direction you should paint towards. If you think your piece needs another layer of paint because the color or texture underneath is showing through too much for you, go right ahead and paint it again. Just be sure that the first layer dries completely first. And when you’re finished with this base coat completely, you may want to sand it. This is a good time to get rid of any brush strokes that may be visible. Again, just remember that you’ll want to wipe away the dust from the sanding process afterwards!

Tip #2: Buy A Better Brush

As I said at the start, chalk-based paints and chalky finish paints have become very easy to find and you don’t have to spend very much money on them. I always suggest taking that money you saved and buying yourself a really good paintbrush. You will find that your paint goes on so much smoother. You’ll use less paint. And a better brush will last you much longer…as long as you take care of it! Clean it as soon as you’re finished using it and let it hang to dry!

Tip #3: Paint From A Cup

Do not paint from the can! Pour a little bit of paint into a paper cup or onto a paper plate, and paint from there. Your paint can will stay much neater. Your paint inside will stay in much better condition. And most importantly, you will use much less paint! If there is an entire open can of paint in front of you, you just will naturally dip into it more often. If you have a limited amount of paint in front of you to use, you’ll find yourself making that paint last a lot longer!

Now we’re going to add some color. People sometimes get nervous here, but please don’t. Again, you can’t mess this up!

This is where the dry brushing comes in. In this tutorial, we’re only going to add on one accent color with this dry brushing technique. As you get better and more comfortable with painting, you can start to layer multiple colors together!

Tip #4: I Mean A Really Dry Brush

I can’t stress this enough. When I say a “dry brush” I mean a really dry brush! Remember, you can always add more paint on. It’s not so easy to take it off! Dip your brush into your paint, and then work almost all of that paint off onto a paper towel. You want very, very little paint on your brush! Then very lightly sweep your brush over your piece, again going with the grain whenever possible. Repeat this process until you have layered on enough paint to achieve your desired look. I, personally, like a lot of my base color to show through, but you may want a more concentrated look, and that is totally fine! Just remember, really work most of the paint off of your brush onto a paper towel. Then layer the color onto your piece slowly!

If by chance you put too much paint on your piece, walk away! Let it completely dry, and then sand some of the paint off. Be sure you wipe away any leftover dust, and then start fresh.

When you have achieved your desired look, let your piece completely dry. This shouldn’t take that long because the dry brushing doesn’t put very much paint on your work surface. This would be another good time to hit your piece with sandpaper. If you have a finer grit this would be the time to use it. (NOTE: The lower the number on your sandpaper, the rougher it is on your work surface! Use those really low numbers to sand away chipped paint and brush strokes. Use the high numbers to really smooth and/or polish your almost finished piece!) You’ll get a very soft smooth feel to the surface of your work!

Tip #5: Don’t Skip The Wax

At this point, you’ll be so excited to have successfully painted your piece, that you’ve probably already picked out a spot for it in your house. But please take the time to put on a quick coat of wax. It’s simple to put on. Just grab a white cloth and rub it on your piece. Again, just as with your paint, remember a little goes a long way! Don’t use too much or your piece will feel “sticky.” You’ll immediately see why this is so important. Yes, it will protect the surface of your piece from scratches or stains. But it also instantly brings out the grain of your wood, and the colors of your paint will “pop” off of each other. It is absolutely worth the extra step before you put your finished piece out for everyone to admire!

And that’s really how simple painting and aging frames and furniture with chalky finish paints and chalk-based paints can be! I encourage you to experiment with different colors, mixing them together and layering them on your piece. The possibilities are endless! Make sure to add in the perfect picture afterwards. If you don’t already have one handy, you can order various prints with photo sites like Shutterfly.


Nikki, In Stitches

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One Response to How To Paint And Age A Picture Frame (Using Chalk Based Paints and Dry Brushing!)

  1. Vicki says:

    I hope I am commenting in the correct place. I would like to post my favorite thing about Thanksgiving and that is spending time with my grandchildren.

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