Black Wash

One of the first pieces of furniture I painted for my business I used this particular technique. I had no idea if it would work or if it would even look nice but I put my faith in myself and just did it. I was quite happy with the result and now I have another item I thought the technique would look great on so I did it again.  This technique is definitely for pieces that have some nice details on them. Here is what the dresser looked like before I started the process.

Parchment and Raven Wash Dresser Before


The dresser has great details and is very well constructed but the top has quite a bit of damage. Although it looks like solid wood it appears to have some veneer which is fine but in order to completely remove the damage on the top I would probably have to sand right through the veneer. So staining the top was out and painting it a solid colour I could do but I would need to do a lot of repairing and using wood filler. This technique uses those flaws and also helps disguise them.

I usually start by cleaning the furniture with a vinegar and water solution but I sanded the top to get rid of the worst damaged parts using first 120 then 220 grit paper first then washed it. I chose FAT Paint colour Parchment as my base colour. I painted the entire exterior with two coats of the Parchment. I felt the brush strokes were a little to defined on the top so I did a light sanding with 220 grit paper once the second coat was thoroughly dry. I used a tack cloth to remove any paint dust.

The next step is to use a clear coat of polyurathane over the base colour. I do two coats of Varathane Satin Polyurethane. I use a sponge brush for the flat areas and a small natural bristle brush for the more detailed areas. It is easy to miss small areas this is why I do two coats to ensure I didn’t miss any areas otherwise I could run into problems on the next step.

Parchment and Raven Wash Dresser Drawer in Progress


Once I have made sure all the base colour is covered with the clear coat and it is dry you can proceed to the next step. I poured some FAT Paint colour Raven into a plastic cup and added a small amount of water to thin it out slightly. I work in sections for the next part. I use the thinned Raven and paint it over one section of the dresser at a time. For example I paint the top of the dresser then take a paper towel or rag and wipe it off going in one direction. Quite a bit will still be left on which is fine. I did this with each section and then did the drawer fronts. Once I have painted each section and wiped off the paint I got a bucket of water and a sponge with a scrubby on one side and 600 grit wet/dry sand paper. I started with the first section I painted with the Raven. I wet the sponge and scrubbed using whichever side was needed to remove the Raven. Now this is where one needs to use their creative judgment on how much of the dark colour to remove. I like to keep the drawers close to the dresser in order to see that I am being consistent with all the sections. I also step back every once in a while to get a full perspective of my project.

The picture above shows how much Raven was left on the drawer front after wiping it off with a paper towel.

Parchment and Raven Wash Dresser Details


While removing the Raven I had to go back and add some Raven back to a couple of places to even things out like the little flower details were not even. In some areas the Raven was being difficult and scrubbing harder cold result in going right through to the wood and I only wanted slight distressing so I opted to wet sand using 600 grit in those difficult areas.

Once I finished removing and touching up the Raven it was time to put three more coats of Varathane over the entire dresser again to seal and protect the paint. I did one more gentle wet sand with the 600 grit paper before the last coat of varathane to ensure a beautiful smooth finish.

Parchment and Raven Wash Dresser Bottom


The handles were a tarnished brass colour so I chose to paint them Raven and used a new Varathane in a matt finish to seal them. (Sorry no link as I can’t seem to find it on the web).

Parchment and Raven Wash Dresser 1

This is not a weekend project or one for a beginner unless of course you are a daring sort of person and like to go big or go home. It is definitely more time consuming than painting and using a clear wax and then antiquing with a dark wax.

Always be willing to try something new and experiment. It is only paint after all you can always paint over it.


Comments: 4

  1. Debby Lassiter March 15, 2017 at 7:25 pm Reply

    I love what you have done with this piece and I want to use your technique on my next project. When I painted a mirror with gray chalk paint and went over it with a black glaze, it didn’t work because it just soaked into the chalk paint and got ‘blotchy’. I redid it using a latex paint that had a sheen and it looked better, but not as good as your dresser–that’s the look I was going for! I like your idea to use varathane and the wet/dry sanding sponge. It’s also nice to know that I can use what I have on hand… if I do it the right way.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • admin March 15, 2017 at 7:31 pm Reply

      Glad you found the blog helpful Debby.

  2. Runa April 14, 2016 at 6:37 pm Reply

    Hi, I love what you did with this piece ! But also got a question at the same time…. Why didn’t you use black glaze instead of black chalk paint ? Wouldn’t be more easier ? Thanks !

    • admin April 15, 2016 at 6:24 am Reply

      Let me start with saying thank you for the compliment. The reason I didn’t use a glaze was that I didn’t have one. The FAT Paint Company did not have glazes yet and quite frankly I like to use what I have if possible instead of purchasing something else. The black paint worked perfectly for the job and was available.

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