Get A Chippy Finish With SaltWash

One of my favorite things to do, creatively, is refinishing furniture. I love being in my workshop getting my hands (and the rest of me) covered in paint and sawdust. A friend reached out to me to ask if I would refinish an antique drop leaf table for her. This table has been in her family for generations. She said she wanted it to be a chippy white finish. I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to use one of my favorite products! Getting a chippy finish is super easy and honestly, a lot of fun, using Saltwash powder. It mixes right into any paint to create a layered sun and salt air soaked look.

I have been using the Saltwash product for a while and I always get questions about how to use it. I am finally sitting down to write out a tutorial. Using my friend’s table, I’ll walk you through how I gave it this beautiful chippy finish with Saltwash.

SaltWash Official just recently launched thier new Faux Effects Kit that comes with everything you need to create any saltwash project, all you have to do is add paint. They were kind enough to send me one of these kits to test out. There is no question that I already love this product, but this kit is a game changer. Using just the one kit I was able to do multiple saltwash projects.

Saltwash Faux Effects Kit

Each Faux Effects Kit includes:

  • 1 Medium 10 oz can of Saltwash
  • 1 Quart mixing cup
  • 1 60 grit sanding Sponge
  • 2 Paint brushes 
  • 1 Saltwash Ideas Look Book
  • 1 How to Brochure
  • 1 Stir Stick


Let’s jump into how I refinished this table! First off, I am a big fan of making things as easy on myself as possible. I almost always remove the hardware and any doors, drawers, decorative pieces and even legs that are easy to get on and off from a project before any kind of sanding or painting happens. For me, being able to sand and paint with as few things in the way makes things so much simpler. Because this table is so old and pretty rusty, getting these leaves off took some finesse.

Let The Piece Speak To You

The original plan for this piece was to sand it down a bit, but on second thought, I love the wear and tear this piece has going on that gives it a natural aged look. I am going to be exposing some of the wood underneath, so I decided to skip the sanding. This will allow for two things; first, all of those natural scratches, dings and imperfections will add to the chippy effect. Second, not sanding this down first, will prevent the paint from soaking into the raw wood and it will be easier to sand those layers of paint off to expose the wood beneath a little easier.

Choosing Paint Colors

For this project, I used the color Picket Fence from Fusion Mineral Paint. I use Fusion Mineral Paint a lot you guys! (Check out my Cake Plate refinish with one of my favorite FMP colors.) It is a beautiful bright white. This is the paint that I mixed my Saltwash into. When using Fusion paint with Saltwash, I typically use a ration of 1:1. So for every 8 oz of paint, I mix in about 8 oz of the saltwash. Once it is mixed well, the consistency will be similar to that of thick icing.

Note: For this project, because I want it to be super chippy, I added a bit more saltwash to my paint and ended up with a pretty thick consistency. The more you use the Saltwash, the more comfortable you will get with creating the perfect mixture for a particular project.

Perfection Not Required With Saltwash

Painting with Saltwash is so much fun. This is one time that you really can (and should) just gloop the paint on. The more uneven it is, the better the salwash effect will be in the end. Using Saltwash to refinish a piece of furniture really is something anyone can do! So don’t be intimidated, you really can pull this off no matter what level of experience you have with painting. On this project, I left the paint much heavier in some places and light in other places. (I did get all of the larger clumps off after I took this photo).

Because I want this particular table to end up with a very chippy finish, meaning I want quite a bit of the wood to be exposed once I’m finished, I only used one coat of the Saltwash paint. If you are looking for a less chippy finish (or to avoid exposing the original surface) you can use a second coat of the saltwash paint.

For my top coat, I chose the Fusion Mineral Paint color Champlian. Both paint colors I chose are shades of white. While Picket Fence is a very bright white, Champlain is a much creamier white. I’m not using different colors for this project, so there will be a very subtle saltwash effect. If you want that gorgeous, vibrant finish, using two contrasting colors creates a beautiful saltwash.

The Fun Part: Creating A Saltwash Finish

When applying the top coat, I took a bit more care to be a little neater and applied it evenly. Because it will be sanded though, there is still no need for perfection.

Once that coat is completely dry, it is time to start creating that saltwash look by sanding. I always do my first pass with a hand held sanding block. This step definitely requires significant elbow grease, but putting in the work on this step is worth it! I use a 60 grit sanding block.

Once you have the perfect saltwash effect, you can call your sanding done. Since I want to create a chippy look and expose that wood underneath, it’s time to do another pass of more aggressive sanding . On more sturdy pieces, I will typically pull out my Orbital Sander and Detail Sander. (Here is a great budget friendly Orbital Sander option). For this project, however, because this table is so fragile, I just had to roll up my sleeves and put in a bit more manually labor with my sanding block. I was able to use my orbital sander for the leaves though, and I love how they turned out.

Note: Something to keep in mind is that all of your edges are going to sand down super fast, so be more careful with those unless you are going for lots of exposed wood along those areas.

Finishing Off That Chippy Saltwash Look

I am in love with the finish that I ended up with for this piece! This is exactly what I was envisioning for this little table. Now that I had the finish I wanted, I added a coat of sealing wax to make sure the finish would hold up under any possible spills or further wear. You can use pretty much any sealing wax or even clear poly, although many of them will create a yellow tint and/ or a shiny finish. My favorite clear wax options are the Behr Decorative Finish Clear Wax or Valspar Chalky Clear Sealing Wax. You can apply the wax with a damp lint free cloth or a wax brush.

Make sure to scrub the wax into all of the nooks and crannies. Follow the application up by wiping the excess wax off using a lint free cloth before the wax has a chance to dry. I use these T-Shirt Cloth Rags. You can add multiple coats of wax depending on how much traffic / use the piece will see. Be sure to allow the wax to dry completely between applications. Most finishing waxes will need to cure for about 12- 24 hours. I recommend allowing the wax to completely cure before putting them to work in your home.

When The Chippy Saltwash Finish Comes Together

As soon as that wax is dry, it is time to start reattaching everything. This might be my very favorite part because with each piece of hardware that gets put back on, the whole thing comes together. I love seeing the finished product that I worked so hard to create.

This little table has turned out to be one of my favorite Saltash projects so far. It has the perfect amount of chippiness to make it an antique farmhouse lovers dream! What do you think about the way this turned out?

I hope this helped you realize that doing a saltwash finish does not have to be intimidating at all! It is s easy to get a chippy finish using saltwash. This is such an easy and fun process. I hope you will give it a try! Have you ever used Saltwash? I would love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “Get A Chippy Finish With SaltWash

  1. Let the piece speak to you! No truer fact has been spoken! Thank you for sharing you knowledge and amazing projects!!

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