Side Table Makeover with Dry-brush Technique

Hello everyone,

You have probably seen a lot of beautiful pieces of painted furniture where the artist used dry-brush. It is a relatively easy technique that can add dimension or a rustic look to your project, making a striking difference to your finished piece.

The example I show in this post and on the video tutorial below is a very basic one, perfect if you are a beginner and don’t want to take risks. As you practice and get more comfortable with it, you can try more advanced ways to use this incredibly versatile technique. On this piece I used one base color (gray) and one dry-brush color (white), and I did linear brush strokes.  You could also use multiple base colors, multiple dry-brush colors, short or long brush strokes, straight or crisscross patterns, etc.

Here is how I refinished this side table.

First I sanded the entire piece. This one needed heavy sanding on top, as it was badly scratched. Then I cleaned it with TSP diluted in water.


Next I primed it with Rustoleum Primer Spray. I like to start priming or painting my pieces upside down, so I don’t miss any spots.

After the primer was dry, I applied two coats of Sherwin Williams Intellectual Gray using my paint sprayer. It is a good idea to wait until the fist coat is dry before applying the second one, as all areas that didn’t get a good coverage will pop.

Once it was all dry I started the fun part of the project: dry-brushing.

Very little paint is required for this part, so I used the white paint on the cap of a small container.

I dabbed just the tip of the bristles of my chip brush on the white paint then immediately removed the excess by rubbing it on a paper towel. The brush should be almost dry. (Now you get why this technique is called “dry-brush”, right?)

The video below shows it better, but the idea is to barely touch the piece with your brush. Brush as lightly as you can starting on less visible areas until you get the hang of it.
Screen Shot 2017-07-22 at 10.39.50 PM

I like to use chip brushes for this part because their bristles are irregular and separate from each other, and I think that makes the strokes more uneven and interesting. You could also try a high-quality brush and see which one you prefer. No hard rules here!

I did straight, linear movements on the top. Same thing on the legs, but trying to follow their lines and curves.

No matter how careful you are, chances are you are going to go too heavy with your brush in some areas. Depending on the look you want to achieve, you may just leave it like that. Some messy parts here and there look beautiful on distressed, rustic finishes. For this table I wanted a more uniform look, so I decided to touch-up the messy spots by dry-brushing the base color on top of those spots, then dry-brushing the white again.

Finally, after all was done, I sealed the piece with three coats of Minwax Polycrylic satin, also using my paint sprayer.

And here is the finished project!












These are some other pieces I refinished using dry-brush as one of the techniques. (Click on each picture to check out the post).




As always, let me know if you have any questions.

I’m sharing this post on this awesome link parties!

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Thanks for reading!



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It all started in the spring of 2013. I realized how tired I was to see my house entirely decorated with IKEA stuff. Nothing against IKEA, but after 12 years, I just needed some change. I wanted stylish, original furniture, but noticed that everything I liked from retail stores was way out of my budget. Thanks to Google, Youtube, and a couple of amazing blogs, I was able to discover and explore the world of furniture refinishing, and it was the beginning of my addiction. I now spend my days rescuing old, dull, unwanted pieces of furniture to give them a fresh look so they can be displayed, used and loved again for many more years to come. Thanks for stopping by.

7 thoughts on “Side Table Makeover with Dry-brush Technique

  1. Thanks for sharing! I love reading your post and viewing your finished pieces. And your videos help me see exactly how they are done. I love all of it!


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