Tip Tuesday – Creating a Textured or Smooth Surface

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Tip Tuesday #5 – Creating a textured surface or a smooth surface is easy with American Paint Company Clay/Chalk/Mineral Base Paint. Follow along as we take you step-by-step though the process of creating each of these time worn looks.

Hand painted textured and smooth surfaces

The sample boards above have been created using simple techniques to create a distressed textured look or a distressed smooth finish.  Below are the items that were used for this tutorial.

Items needed to complete APC tutorial for creating a textured or smooth hand painted finish.

If you would like to follow along with this tutorial, you will need:

  1. Two complimenting colors of APC paints. Wild Horses and Dollar Bill were used for this tutorial.
  2. Two sample boards, or a practice piece of furniture.
  3. Your favorite paint brush.
  4. A cup of water, a rag or small cloth.
  5. A fine grit piece of sandpaper. We are using 220 grit sandpaper for this tutorial.

Mark the backs of your boards with a #1 and #2.  We will be referring to each board by their numbers through the remainder of the tutorial.

Creating a textured finish by applying the base coat using a pouncing technique.

Board #1 – Textured Finish

On the first board we will be creating a distressed textured look.  The key to this look is to apply a heavy textured (or messy) base coat.  This can be achieved by pouncing the paint brush to create texture or simply brushing the paint on using deliberate heavy (messy) strokes.

Creating a smooth finish by using water to thin the paint and laying the base coat down evenly with the grain on the piece.

Board #2 – Smooth Finish

The second board will have the distressed smooth finish on it.  On this board apply a smooth base coat by loading your brush first with the base color then dipping it in water.  After that, lay the paint on the board (brushing with the grain) evenly. Tip Tuesday #1 has more information about thinning APC paint.

The base coats (in Wild Horses) for a textured finish and a smooth finish.

Set the boards aside to dry completely.  Notice the difference between the two boards?

Apply the second coat (top coat) on in a smooth thin layer.

After the base coat has dried, apply a thin top coat over the base coat on each board and set them aside to dry. This coat can be applied the same on both the textured board and the smooth board.  Be sure NOT to apply the paint too thick.  A thin top coat will be easier to distress through than a thick top coat.

Distressing the textured finish using a fine grit piece of sandpaper.

Board #1 – Textured Finish

After the top coat on each board is dry, it’s time  to distress.  On board #1 (our textured finish) use a fine grit sandpaper to lightly sand through your top coat revealing the textured strokes from your base coat.  The above example shows the artist holding the paper flat and sanding in a circular motion to reveal the textured base coat through the top coat.

Using the wet distress technique, smooth the final coat of paint.

Board #2 – Smooth Finish

To distress the ‘smooth finish’ board, use the wet distress technique.  Tip Tuesday #2 shows more detail about this technique. Take your rag or cloth and soak it with water.  After wringing it out completely, use the damp rag to distress through the top coat to reveal the base coat color while smoothing the dry paint slightly.  Because the base coat was applied in a smooth manner this will reveal the base color while blending the two colors slightly to create a smooth time worn distressed look.

Finished textured and smooth finish using American Paint Company paint products.

After the boards have been distressed to your liking, apply a finish coat of APC Wax to ‘set’ the paint and complete the look. Tip Tuesday #3 contains details about using the APC wax products.

When applying these techniques to an entire piece of furniture, be strategic about where you add texture and where you distress.  Texture can be applied to the entire piece or simply add it in a few areas of the piece to add interest.  If you’ve feel you’ve over done it or aren’t satisfied with the look, don’t fret, paint over it and try again.

Thank you for joining us for Tip Tuesday.  Stay tuned to the American Paint Company blog and like us on Facebook for more tips and inspiration.

Post courtesy of Jill and Chantelle for American Paint Company.


  1. I love adding texture! Thanks for sharing

  2. Norma Oliver (Norma's Kentiques) says:

    Great tutorial and great pics. Of course my favorite is board #1. :D

    Another fun way to add texture is to paint on a base coat of any “chalk style paint” and WHILE painting on the 2nd coat, aim blow dryer here and there causing the paint to dry quickly. Best to experiment on boards for this (which make great distressed signs!) to get the feel of what it will do and how much texture you want. You can get amazing texture doing this!

  3. Thanks for reminding me of textured style. Donna McCrummen taught me…must make sample boards! Love the paint!

  4. Does anybody have tips on what to do if you made the top coat too thick? I was thinking of using a rag soaked in mineral spirits? I tried an electric sander and it went right through to the original wood.

    • American Paint Company says:

      I would stick with using water to distress it but try using a green scrubby sponge to get through the paint. Mineral spirits may be a little too harsh and cause problems when you apply your finish (wax or Top Coat). Chantelle for American Paint Company

    • If the top coat is too thick you can use a wet sanding sponge. Just get the sponge wet and then squeeze out the excess water. You can squeeze out more or less depending on what seems to be working best on any given project.

  5. Love finding new paint sources

  6. I see some colors of paints I want..but the color I wanted only comes in Textured paint.. so can I dilute it and get it to be a smooth paint????? any ideas on that ??? thanks

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