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The Easiest Antique Chippy Paint Technique

Painted furniture seems to be all the rave lately, right?  Chalk paint, Milk paint, latex paint, so many different types of paint. How do you create that chippy barn paint look? What paint should you use? How do you apply it? I’m going to try to answer all these questions and show you how I painted my fireplace mantel with the easiest antique chippy paint technique I could find.

Easiest Antique Chippy Paint Technique

I’m going to be honest… researching antique painting techniques was a little overwhelming. There are so many different options. Where does one even start? I’ll share a few different options that I had been asked about in the past.

How do you create chippy paint with vaseline?

You use vaseline to prevent the paint from bonding to certain areas. Wherever you apply the vaseline, the paint will not stick. You apply it with a chip brush or a rag and then paint the furniture piece as you normally would. Once the paint is dry you can use a rag or paper towel to wipe away the vaseline (and the paint that was on top of it). You can also use sand paper to achieve a more distressed look.

Even though I do love the distressed look that the vaseline technique provides, I wanted more of the chippy paint look.

To get the “chippy paint” look, the key is for the paint to barely bond to the surface and crackle as it dries.

The vaseline allowed the paint to barely bond, but it didn’t create that “crackle paint” look.

There are many ways to attain this. Some people use a crackle agent, but this requires painting a base coat, then painting with the crackle agent and then a top coat. If you’ve ever used a crackle agent, you know they can be tricky. My one and only failed attempt with a crackle agent was enough for me to look for other techniques.

What is the easiest chippy paint technique?

If you follow me, you know I always search out the easiest method to create with. With that being said, all my research landed me on one common answer;

Using milk paint without the bonding agent.

I recently created an antique faux fireplace mantel. I finished the mantel with a “white wash” finish, but I wasn’t completely happy with it.  Hence my desire to refinish it with the Antique Chippy paint look.

antique fireplace mantel with a whitewash look

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How to create the antique chippy paint look with milk paint

  1. Apply a dark wood tint over the whitewashed fireplace. I wanted to darken the fireplace so when the white milk paint started to peel away it would look dark and old underneath. This step is optional. Milk paint will chip and look just fine without it.
  2. Apply two coats of milk paint without the bonding agent. The milk paint I used is called Old Barn Milk Paint. I love this paint because it’s an organic compound made from simple ingredients.
  3. Watch the paint chip away! I did distress slightly with a fine grit sand paper.

Side note; Wood tint can be used to darken anything and unlike most stains, you can paint over it. I’ve shared all about wood tint (Dye) vs. wood stain in a post with a video.

A few final photos:

chippy paint technique with milk paint without the bonding agent

It really looks like old lead paint chipping away doesn’t it?

antique mantel with chippy white paint

This is by far the best chippy paint method I could find. All I had to do was apply the paint and watch it chip away as it dried. It’s fascinating.

I love how the white chippy paint contrasts the faux birchwood fireplace insert.

antique fireplace mantel

I love all the detail and how the paint has chipped away on its own! No messy vaseline or crackle agent necessary!

My favorite part of this technique is that it really creates the chippy look of old lead paint without the health hazards.

Below are few pictures of my styled antique fireplace mantel. I went a little crazy with the lavender bundles, LOL.

fireplace mantel
fireplace mantel
antique fireplace mantel

What do you think? I was so pleased to find an easy, one step (really!) technique to create that chippy paint look.

Thanks for stopping by,



Semi Customizable Clock by Aimee Weaver Designs

Decorative Metal Watering Cans

Decorative Metal Vase

Lavender Bundles


Saturday 20th of August 2022

Hi, I love this technique and would like to try it . Question. I have a “whitewashed” piece . Can it do the dark wood tint over it and then the milk paint on top? Will it “chip away” the same ? Trying to avoid having to sand off the current failed paint technique.

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Monday 22nd of August 2022

Yes I don't see why that wouldn't work!


Tuesday 16th of March 2021

This is absolutely beautiful I am going to try this on an old door I turned into a headboard. My question is can I use dark paint instead of wood tint under the milk paint because the door is actually already painted white and I don't want to sand it?

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Wednesday 17th of March 2021


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