How to Make Over Furniture Using Saltwash Paint Additive

1 Material
3 Hours

The Hubs and I recently visited our local auction house. We occasionally venture away from the thrift stores and yard sales to see if maybe we can luck up and find a few deals at the auction. You can read the best places to find used furniture if you’re a beginner over on the blog. While browsing the used furniture, I came across this buffet.

Old Buffet

What got my attention was those sexy legs! Aren’t they just gorgeous?

Beautiful Legs

Once I got the buffet home, it was time to determine what I would do to make it beautiful again. While attending a local vintage show, I watched a demonstration on the Saltwash Paint Additive. I was intrigued, so I purchased a can of the additive, and it sat in my cabinet for months. I decided to use it on this buffet, considering I only spent $45.00. 

To begin with, I removed the drawers and the hardware. The hardware would remain in its original state. With that being said, all that needed to be done was simply wash them in a solution of dawn dish detergent and water, just to clean.

Next, I cleaned the inside of the drawers, the inside of the buffet where the drawers had been removed, and underneath. When a piece is old, don’t forget to clean inside and the bottom. Sometimes dirt and critters get up in the cracks! You can see how I clean my old furniture over on the blog.

I then gave the buffet and the drawers a thorough cleaning with my vinegar and water mixture just to remove the grit and grime. Allow it to dry completely before you start painting.

Once the buffet had completely dried, it was time to mix the Saltwash additive with my paint. I chose Dixie Belle's Cotton as my paint color. I simply followed the directions on the back. I had never used this additive before, so it was a learning experience for me. 

Saltwash Directions

The directions stated the consistency of the mixture should be like icing. 

Icing Consistency

Rather than starting the process on the entire buffet, I decided to start with a drawer front. That way, if I totally messed it up, I would have a small area to fix and start over again. 

I did just as the directions stated. I dabbed my paint on with my brush. Yep, dab! You do not apply like you would ordinary paint. While dabbing, you want to form peaks in the paint. Here is an example of dabbing on a piece of wood. Hold your paintbrush up straight and dab.

Dabbing the Paint

Do not freak out! It will look like a big mess trust me. It is not, I promise you. Also, I recommend using a cheap chip brush.

While the paint is still tacky to the touch, lightly take your brush and gently brush down the small peeks. Do not apply pressure as you would when painting.

Brush Down Peaks

After it had completely dried to the touch, I applied a second coat in the same manner. As a result, we can see the beautiful texture.

Beautiful Texture

By this point in the project, I was confident using the additive. Therefore, I did the same method on the buffet itself, working in small sections. I also painted the wood applique in the same manner.

Buffet With Saltwash Paint Applied

I wanted the buffet to have a worn look. For this reason, I sanded around the edges and curves of the buffet.


Afterward, I removed the sanding dust with a piece of my tack cloth. I then attached the wood applique with hot glue to the center of the bottom drawer. The wax was applied with a lint-free cloth, wipe off any access.

She turned out beautiful. I still can’t get over THOSE LEGS! I am so glad I decided to do the buffet makeover using the Saltwash. It was a learning experience and I will definitely use it again.

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"It's not about what it is, it's about what it will be."


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Have a question about this project?

3 of 5 questions
  • Gail Sisson
    on Dec 23, 2019

    It looks like it gives it a very rough coating and so how do you dust it or clean it afterwards?

  • Jaswan
    on Dec 23, 2019

    What's the goal with the salt paint? Is it to distress easier? Is it supposed to look just thick and uneven- not smooth- for lack of a better term? And could you post close up of completed surfaces?! Thank you

  • MaryAnn
    on Dec 29, 2019

    It's an interesting idea. I can't make an informed conclusion, although I like the white with the legs in their original finish. I think this is a case where actually seeing and touching the finished project is essential to decide what I feel about how it came out. Obviously you are an experienced refinisher and you like the result enough to use it again. That carries weight with me. The camera simply cannot render a detailed picture of the finish. I'm assuming a matte finish, not a smooth glossy paint like finish. I think the product would not have suited those fancy turned legs. On a very plain shaker style piece, the legs would suit the product. It is a nice job, looks well improved over the before picture. It sounds like a bit more work than regular painting, with a learning curve. Would you recommend this product to inexperienced furniture refinishers, or would this be better have some experience first. Also it appeared the original finish was mostly worn away. If the original was intact what kind of prep besides the cleaning. Sanding, Stripping, a bleed proof base, etc, would you recommend ?

    Again, very nice work. Thanks.

    • MaryAnn
      on Dec 31, 2019

      I've looked at all the pictures. My point was simply that occasionally a picture can not portray texture perfectly. In this case, I would love to touch the piece, to actually feel the texture of the finish. A salt finish, would it feel smooth like drift wood? A little gritty like a slightly salt crusted finish, from being soaked in salt water for hours? It's not your photography, or video, or description at fault. Just a strong desire to feel the finished surface. The reason God gave us hands to explore with. It looks really nice. Does this finish raise the grain? Nice job with this piece though. It looks ready for another 100 years.

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