Dry Brush/Whitewash Tutorial

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Dry Brush/Whitewash Tutorial

Recently I had a few of you ask specifics of how I painted

this piece.

Slipcovered Grey

This was actually my second project ever with Annie Sloan paint. 

I remember I loved the end result so much, it broke my heart to sell it. 

Thanks to the readers who brought to my attention that a tutorial was in need.

After sifting through photographs I found a project that was never shared with you.

The same process was used on this china cabinet,

and the perfect way to offer a tutorial.

Dry Brush/Whitewash Technique

Yep, you guessed it, another Craigslist find.

China Cabinet

(You know how much I use Craigslist and love it).

Not only did it need a lot of TLC and updating, it was screaming Annie Sloan Paris Gray.

I have always loved the look of Paris Gray with a nice white dry brush technique.

Slipcovered Grey Dry Brush/Whitewash Tutorial

It is a neutral color that really could be used in any décor.

Paris Gray is gorgeous on large pieces like armoires, cabinets, and dressers.

If you are nervous to try out painting furniture, seriously, have no fear.

If I can do this, so can you!

This is the easiest paint, in my opinion, to use.

It is definitely worth the investment.

Plus there are so many of us that want to help.


So ask, and I will answer.

Okay, let’s go!

1. Wipe down the furniture so it is sparkling clean. 

(Dirt, grime, fingerprints – gone).

2. Once it is clean, apply the first coat of Paris Gray.

(I am a texture girl, so I just brush it on. I try to stay with the wood grain, but hey, if I see a brush stroke – no biggie.

I have big plans to utilize the texture those brush strokes create).

3.  Once the paint is dry, apply a second coat. 

(I always like to apply a second coat, especially in areas where

the coverage is a little weak).

4.  Annie Sloan recommends distressing after waxing, but I like to do it now, before whitewashing.

Sanding areas that would naturally wear with time is my goal here.

Trust your instincts.

Are you ready for the fun part?

5. Now on to the fun, creative part – the dry brush technique.

Use a dry brush and dab it in pure white.

If there is too much paint on the brush, take a paper towel and dab the brush to remove some of the paint.

Then it’s time to apply to the surface.

Slipcovered Grey Dry Brush/Whitewash Tutorial

This is where the texture comes to life, but you have to work fast.

China Cabinet

I brush a section and then wipe it off right away,

Whitewash Slipcovered Grey

here I used a fancy paper towel.

Dry Brush/Whitewash Tutorial

It actually works  great.

Dry brushing evenly is important to create a uniform look.

If an area doesn’t blend well, fine sand paper will remove the top layer and blend in with the bottom layer of paint.

Slipcovered Grey Dry Brush/Whitewash Tutorial

Go with your gut here – let your eye tell you if it looks right.

If it doesn’t, keep working, but don’t get overwhelmed.

It’s just furniture.

This is the part that creates texture

Slipcovered Grey Dry Brush/Whitewash Tutorial

and dimension.

Notice how the dry-brushing is applied directionally with the grain.

Slipcovered Grey Dry Brush Tutorial

Dry brushing also creates a layered look creating a time-worn look.

Slipcovered Grey Dry Brush/Whitewash Tutorial

Again, let your eye tell you which direction to take it.

6.  Step back and take a good look at what you created.  Do you need to distress more in an area? Go for it.  Does the whitewash need to be toned down?  Use a fine sand paper and lightly tone it down.  It’s as easy as that.

7.  Apply Clear Wax.  I use Annie Sloan and love it.  A little goes a long way.  Using the round brush (also Annie Sloan) makes it quick and easy to apply.  Waxing protects furniture and makes the color come to life. 

Annie Sloan Wax

After applying wax it needs to be buffed completely to avoid sticky residue.

There you go!

Slipcovered Grey Dry Brush Tutorial

I hope this tutorial will get you to grab that paintbrush and give it a try.

As always,

if you have questions,

feel free to ask me.

There are many different techniques out there.

This worked for me and my wish is that it works for you too.


Every. Single. Moment.


If you enjoy what you read today and find it helpful, share it with your friends.

****This is not a paid or sponsored post by Annie Sloan.  I truly love this paint. As you know, if it’s easy and works great for me, I am going to share it with you.****

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    1. Hi, I know this is an older post but new to me! I read through this and the link to the other piece and I see that you started brown and ended up with a black or dark gray undertone in the finished version yet you only mention using Paris Grey, no black in either of your posts. Where did the blackish undertone come from!???

      1. Hi Michael, I can see why you could be confused. The pictures actually make it appear like another layer of paint etc., but it is just the wood coming through. The contrast from the Paris Grey and white against the distressed area can make the wood appear darker as well. If you wanted black undertones, you could paint the areas you would like to distress with black and layer on top of that. You might like that effect as well. The possibilities are endless with this technique. Please let me know if you have more questions. You can send me an email as well if you’d like. I am happy to help. 🙂

  1. Aww I love this china cabinet, I always get so many compliments on it!! It’s one of my treasured pieces of furniture!

    1. Brittany!!! You just made my day! I am so glad it is one of your treasured pieces. 🙂 I remember each and every piece I have done as I put my heart and soul into them and always wonder where they are and how they are being used and enjoyed. It is so great to hear you are enjoying it. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me today. Hugs!

    1. Aww, Elaine, thank you! You will have to show me your masterpiece when you are finished – I would love to see.

  2. Maybe I’m dense (probably…), but why is it called “dry brushing” if you’re dipping the brush in paint?? Then it’s not dry, is it? What am I missing?

    1. Good question Sara! I believe this technique is considered dry brushing because your brush is almost dry. The brush is slightly dipped in paint and then dabbed off before applying. It doesn’t give it full coverage, but yet a brushed effect when applied. When you have a wet brush, the brush is dipped in paint completely to get full coverage on a project, wall, etc.. You are right though… the brush is not completely dry, but it’s almost to the point of dry. Lol… you aren’t missing anything, and you definitely aren’t dense. 🙂

  3. LOVE the piece…it’s gorgeous. However, I’m with Michael…did you sand into those tiny crevices or just not let your paint get into the crevices? Your paint looks quite thick…please tell us how you were able to achieve this.

    1. Thank you, Gina. It has been several years since I painted this piece. With that said, I will try to answer your questions as best as I can. I believe I sanded the areas that have the darker areas, or wood exposed. Just where it would appear aged and worn. If I sanded too much, I would go over it again with paint until the look was achieved. The paint looks thicker because of the layering process. The first coat is pretty sloppy, by this I mean, brush strokes showing. Then, when dry brushing over and wiping with a paper towel it creates this look. I honestly just experiment. It’s the experimenting that really gives you freedom to create unique pieces. I believe layering gives the most unique end result. Let me know if you have any more questions. I’d love to help.

  4. I seen where you have the china cabinet painted grayish white, I have the same one and was wondering if you could tell me if it’s named brand and how much it’s was sold for please

    1. Hi Jackie, I finished this piece so many years ago, however, I believe I sold it for $250 maybe? I am not sure of the brand, I am so sorry about that.

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