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Top techniques – Two Colour Distressing

two colour distressing technique shown on two cabinets

For greater depth and added intrigue, two colour distressing is a fantastic technique. 

As the name suggests, this involves applying two different coloured coats of Chalk Paint™ before revealing glimpses of the base layer.  

Whether you go for bold contrasting colours or more subtle tones, our handy pointers will soon have you achieving impressive results. 

When you take a close look at most natural surfaces, you will notice there is a natural patina of different shades and colours. The two-colour distress allows you to give a nod to that natural variation in colour in a way that you can’t with a one coat flat finish. It’s a style that lends itself to more aged pieces like dressers and bureaus with mouldings or cornices. 

Your first task is to choose your colours. Try looking at a colour wheel to work out which will work together and fit with the rest of your décor.  

For complementary colours look at those directly opposite on the wheel – for example green’s complementary colour is red. It's also worth looking at the three colours which are equal distance from each other on the wheel as these will sit well together while providing plenty of contrast. Alternatively, you can choose what is known as an analogous combination of up to five colours that are next to each other on the wheel to create a more calming feel. 

The Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ range features a carefully curated palette of 42 shades which can be mixed together to create the perfect colour and we are happy to offer advice if you need a second opinion.   

Alongside your paint you will also need a round bristled Chalk Paint™ brush, light or medium grade sandpaper, wax and a lint free cloth.  

Start by pouring a small amount of paint into a bowl or tub and replace the lid on the pot for later – this is important as the chalk paint will thicken quite quickly if left uncovered. 

Using your brush apply a coat of your base colour all over, moving in all directions. If you are sure you don’t want the wood to show through on your finished piece, make the base colour thicker or use two coats.  

Once fully dry, apply your second colour, mixing in a little water to make it slightly thinner than the first. 

When the second coat is dry you can begin to distress the item, focusing on areas such as legs, edges and handles which would wear naturally. 

To do this, use a fine or medium grit sandpaper to work away some of the top coat, revealing the base colour below. If you want to work back further so you can see glimpses of the wood you will need to use a coarser sandpaper.  

The wet distress approach also works well. Use a damp cloth to work away the paint creating an almost blended finish which gives a whole other look and feel.  

When you are happy with the way your piece looks, it’s time to apply wax to seal the paint and give a beautiful tactile finish that feels buttery soft to the touch. 

It is always best to use a coat of clear wax first. Then if you do use a coloured wax on top it will be easier to move it around, and even remove if you don’t like how it looks. 

Use either a brush or lint free cloth to apply the wax, rubbing it into the paint and removing any excess as you go. Apply in all directions and make sure every part of your item has at least one coat. 

Wax can be touch dry in two to three hours, but can take between seven and 30 days to be fully cured. During this time take care as it’s still easy to damage the finish.   


We host a variety of workshops and creative craft courses at our brand-new creative centre in Mount Bures on the Essex Suffolk border. As an Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ stockist, we have been trained by Annie Sloan herself to help you get the very most from your Chalk Paint™ and we share what we have learnt at our workshop sessions