Painted Bar Stool Tutorial – Part 2

Marian ParsonsFurniture Makeovers, Hand Painted Furniture, Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint, Painting & Refinishing, Tutorials24 Comments

Welcome to part two of the painted bar stool tutorial.  In case you missed it, or just for future reference, you can find part one HERE.  In part two, I’m going to share how the do the distressing and finishing to achieve the final look…

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We’ll also chat about the kind of sand paper I use for distressing.

So, I painted the bar stool in two coats of MMS Milk Paint in French Enamel (with the bonding agent added) and let it dry overnight.  I didn’t have to let it dry that long, but that’s just how it worked out.  You can start distressing once the paint is dry to the touch.

I prefer to distress most pieces by hand.  Sometimes I’ll hit a piece hard with the orbital sander, but it’s harder to control, especially on a piece with lots of corners and edges.  The orbital sander is really best for large, flat surfaces.  I wanted a scratchy, pretty heavy distressing, so I used 100 grit sand paper and rubbed it over the bar stool applying a moderate amount of pressure.

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When distressing, I always focus my attention on the edges…where natural wear and tear happens to paint.  You rarely see a huge paint bald spot in the middle of a piece of furniture naturally, so to make the distressing look authentic, stick to the edges, high points and places where a piece would often be touched or rubbed (like around a handle or the arms of a chair where hands would rest.)

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I rubbed the sand paper over the seat of the chair, allowing the paint to wear from the high points where the chair curves to make a slight saddle.  I also focused attention along the front of the chair where legs would rub.

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Places that would receive heavy wear were distressed down to the bare wood.

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As I distress a piece of furniture, I step back a few times to make sure I’m achieving the look I want.  Sometimes it’s hard to see the overall look when you’re 10″ away.

Once I was satisfied with the look, I wiped away the dust with a cotton cloth.  Sometimes I use the shop vac, too.  I then applied a coat of MMS Antiquing Wax directly to the paint.  I wanted to tone down the brightness of the color and add some richness to the exposed raw wood, so I didn’t need to seal it with Furniture Wax first.

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I brush it on in small sections, then wipe off the excess and lightly buff it with a cotton cloth.  I continue around the chair, working the wax into all of the nooks, crannies, crevices and corners.

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Once the entire chair was waxed and the excess was wiped away, I went back over the everything with a cotton cloth for one final buffing.  The nice thing about wax is that it dries to the touch almost immediately.  I carried the bar stool upstairs and we started using it right away.  It may be very slightly “waxy” for a few days, but it’s fine to use.

You can purchase MMS Milk Paint and the Antiquing Wax at a local retailer (find a list HERE) or ONLINE.  And did you know we have retailers all over the world?  In Canada, the UK. Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland and all over the US.  We do have retailers who ship internationally to Australia & New Zealand as well.  It’s pretty amazing how much we’ve grown in under a year.

By the way, I bought these bar stools on clearance at Target about six years ago.  They retired the style, but they still carry a similar style HERE and I have seen them in the stools.


While we’re talking about distressing, I would I would give a quick 101 on sand paper and which to use to get the look you want.  There’s an entire world of sand paper and sanding products for stripping, finishing, refinishing, etc., but we’re just going to talk about using it for distressing.

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The lower the grit number, the rougher it is.  This is 40 grit paper and it’s super chunky.  You’ll want to pull this out when you want a heavily scratched finish and want to pull a lot of paint off.

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 There are several grits in between, but we’ll skip to 100.  It’s the grit I use most often for distressing.  It’s rough enough to make some scratches and pull off some paint without a ton of pressure, but it’s not too harsh.

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I’ll often follow up the 100 grit with some 180 or 200, which is fine/very fine.  Using a fine paper will lightly wear or rub off the paint, showing the small nuances, dings, dents and scratches in a finish.  I use this paper on it’s own when I want a soft distress or as the last step to reduce some of the scratchiness or harshness that was created by a heavier grit.

I would encourage you to experiment with different grits to find the combination you like!  Distressing is definitely an art, but I believe it’s something that can be learned and perfected.  It just takes some practice and the best way to practice is to do!  So, go for it!

Painted Bar Stool Tutorial – Part 2

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24 Comments on “Painted Bar Stool Tutorial – Part 2”

  1. Oh Sweet !!! what another great tutorial!!! You are always so helpful!! I did lots of painting with MMSMP today and found myself asking “what would Marian do?” on more than one occasion!! Some times it’s hard to decide on each piece, do I add bonding agent, do I not, do I add another coat do I not… I ended up doing a little of both on different pieces and I think in the end it all ended up good and I have a new piece to share on Furniture Feature Friday tomorrow evening!!! have a lovely night my friend! And thanks for sharing your wisdom!


    1. That’s how I work as well. I rarely have a plan, but an overall desired look for the piece and I let it develop as I work on it. Sometimes it turns out exactly as I thought. Other times, I’m surprised. I love that kind of creative process. 🙂

    2. Hi There,
      I couldn’t help but notice the type of sandpaper used on this project.
      I am pretty sure that we are the manufacturer of it.

      ALI Industries, Inc. (Shopsmith Abrasives)

      We have other products that I am sure that you could use on future projects and would like to send you some free samples.

      Also, How could we advertise on your blog???

      Please reach out to me at:
      1-800-255-4748 ext:157

  2. I really like it that you’re adding more ‘tutorial’-posts to your blog. I like 220 grit, but that’s a personal preference I guess. I’m more a ‘subtle distressing’-type, and 220 is better to achieve that.

    1. Yeah, I was on tutorial burnout for a while with the book and all of the freelance projects I did over the last few months, but it’s nice to do it just for me and my readers. 🙂 I have plans for a lot more.

      I agree on the 220. It gives a beautiful, soft look.

  3. This is sort of off topic but I am getting ready to install New England White Pine – 6″ wide planks – hardwood floors. The planks have no finish – ever. They are totally raw wood. I want to paint rather than stain my floors and am contemplating using your milk paint. I want a rustic farmhouse look. I have Googled and am unable to find any clear guidance on how to go about it, what I can expect them to look like, and so forth. The only advice I found was from a milk paint supplier that is not Miss Mustard. Can you tell me where to find guidance and a picture of milk painted hardwood floors? I would be so grateful. Somewhere on your website you say it is great for hardwood floors but I can’t seem to find specific information for the ‘how to’ and I can’t find any pictures of wood floors painted with milk paint. Many thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Deborah. If I may add my two cents. I did milk paint on 100 year old reclaimed wood (Douglas Fir) Although I put it on my ceiling in a herringbone pattern. I wanted a weathered
      beachy look on the wood (which was raw). I used a gray stain 1st and then went over it with milk paint in gray, white and a mixture of some blues. If you want to see how it looks, I blogged about it here :

      If I could answer any questions, feel free to email.

      Sorry, I didn’t mean to hijack!!

  4. This is a wonderful tutorial. Detailed and close-ups that anyone could follow. Thank you for sharing the details on how to achieve “the look”.

  5. Thanks for the tutorial! I love your detailed instructions. I am currently working on a bench (if you visit my project page on my blog, you’ll see the “work in progress”.. I am using MMSMP Flow Blue and used it on the legs of a bench that were originally painted black (high sheen) and rubbed in a few spots. However, when I did the first couple of coats (without the bonding agent and no sanding) almost all of the paint chipped off rather than just a nice chippy look.. so I went back and sanded the exposed sheen surfaces and went back through with the paint (one more coat) and NOW I have the look i wanted to get to. Next comes upholstering the grain feed sack to it (another MMS inspiration) and then it will be done.. I’ll try and catch a freaky furniture friday to post it when its complete! thanks again for all your inspiration!

    1. Yes, I’ve had that happen to me as well. This paint can be very unpredictable when not prepping the surface and using the bonding agent. You learn along the way, though, right? I can’t wait to see the finished result!

  6. Hi Marian,
    I have a question for you. 🙂 I have a glossy pine buffet and table in my kitchen that I want to paint using chalk paint. My walls are Pacific Pine (Glidden) and I have white cabinets with black appliances. I have medium dark hardwood floors, along with medium brown/black/white speckled countertops. I pull the greens, along with reds, yellows and black to accent in my kitchen. What color should I paint the buffet and table legs? I’m staining the table top a dark color. I’ve been going back and forth with painting it black or another color…Thoughts???
    Thank you for your opinion! xoxo

  7. I bought your great book read it and now have a beautiful antique vanity I want to do. Yesterday went and got your milk paint and other suppliies I need. Now I am scared to start but I will begin fear must not stop me ha ha!

  8. After stripping and refinishing the top and painting the rest of our “lovely” pink console that holds our TV a different color over this week, I bow in respect to all of you who do it for a living! I would definitely be on welfare! I have painted furniture before, but stripping and refinishing is new to me. Marion makes it look easy! Because I have none of the easy materials to work with, I stuck with SW latex paint, Minwax pre-stain conditioner and stain, and tung oil. I hate the waiting for everything to dry step! Now that I have leftover everything, I’ll be starting my next project soon.

  9. Looks great. I do have a question. When you use your orbital sander does it make circular marks? I’ve tried it once and it was a disaster. I’m sure it’s something I’ve got to practice. I wondered if a belt sander would be better. I generally use a sanding block.
    Also, I sent you an email last week about making a sign. I’m sure you get hundreds of emails but I was just wondering if you got it.

    1. Yes, I hate those little swirly marks and it happens with every orbital sander I’ve used. What I do is go over it by hand afterwards to remove those marks. I did just buy a “finishing sander”, which is square, to see if that works better. I’ll let you know!

  10. Hi Marian, You might want to think about doing an “Ask Marian” post occasionally! I see a lot of good questions in these comments. And I have one too! Do you wash your waxing brushes or do you keep one for clear and one for antiquing?

    I only bought one and I sealed my pieces (they were chalk painted) with clear wax and then antiqued them with the dark wax and then- I didn’t know what to do! Your help is appreciated!

  11. Oh my goodness…I just bought two bar stools/chairs at a yard sale. This is exactly what i’m going to do with them. They are painted with a design…should I strip that paint first? Yea, an excuse to buy your milk paint!!!

  12. Hi,
    How do you get rid of scratch marks that show up when using sand paper. The paint around the distressed spot has scratches and I can’t seem to get rid of them. I’ve tried going over it with a fine sand paper but the scratches are still there. Will they go away once I put a sealant on it? I wish you could help me in person, because I feel like I have ruined my dining room table. I painted it with white satin paint and was trying to distress but it just looks like a hot mess.
    Thanks for your help,

  13. Hello,
    I have the same bar stools as you! I know this probably isn’t a big deal to you, but I only have 2 and need 4. I bought them on Craigslist. Is there any way you know where you got them? I’m wondering if they are still made and if I could find any more. I’m sure you get a ton of emails from followers, so if you have time to spare I would sincerely appreciate your response!!

    Thank you!

  14. I have purchased a chalk painted furniture set. I don’t like the color and want to change that as well as to distress it. Do I have to strip the piece first? Do you recommend light sanding? Please help! Thanks!!!

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