Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Beach Cottage Sign - candlewax distressing technique

So. . . my husband and I have purchased a beach cottage in Florida and I have had a blast furnishing and decorating.  I took it as a "given" that all vacation homes require a fun name.  With our love of diving, combined with my love of turtles - the name just had to have "turtle" in it.  We eventually settled on "Turtle Cove".  This post is my first of many to come regarding some of the fun projects I worked on.

The Turtle Cove sign was created from a simple wood plaque from Hobby Lobby.  The distressing technique involves candle wax.   The candle wax technique is simple - apply candlewax and then paint over it.  Wherever you have applied the wax you will easily be able to remove the paint and expose the base color.

I started by staining the plaque with a dark gel stain applied with a cotton rag (old t-shirt rag).  So...dark brown will be my base color.

Dark Gel Stain
Dark Gel Stain

Next, after picking out a font and creating a paper print-out that would fit on the length of the piece - I adhered it with Krylon temporary spray adhesive. The key here is TEMPORARY adhesive.  You will eventually want to peal all this off.  I purchased mine at Hobby Lobby.

Krylon Temporary Adhesive
Temporary Adhesive

Then I started cutting out the letters with an x-acto knife  The letters were easily removed because the adhesive was only temporary.  What I ended up with was a sort of stencil for the letters adhered to the wood plaque.

Cut around letters with knife
Cut around letters with an x-acto knife.

I rubbed candlewax inside the stenciled out lettered areas. Keep in mind, how much you apply will affect the final look of your project.  If you leave more of the base uncovered from wax - the paint will adhere to these places, and only the waxed areas will enable you remove the paint to easily reveal the stained base. 

Apply candlewax to the lettered areas
Apply candlewax to the lettered areas

Once all the letters were waxed over - I pealed off the paper.   From the photo you can see the letter shaped wax.  I also ran the candle along the edges and corners of the plaque for some distressing to expose the stained wood in those areas as well.

Remove paper around waxed areas
Remove the paper around the waxed areas

Paint was applied directly over the entire piece.  I applied just one heavier coat.  I typically recommend two thin coats when doing any painting, but for this project - I think the one heavier coat was OK because I was going to distress the piece anyway.  The paint color I used was a Valspar satin paint sample from Lowe's - with a custom color of Sherwin William's #6470 Waterscape.  I chose this over #6212 Quietude (used elsewhere in the room).  Waterscape is a brighter aqua that provides for a more distinctive contrast with the darker stain.  Once painted, you could still easily see the wax letter outlines underneath the paint. 

Apply paint
Apply paint

A note on paint - I buy the Lowe's paint samples for paint because I can have a custom color mixed for $3 - a great deal.  This is perfect when only small amounts of paint are required, and works out well if you are OK with the satin paint finish (that is the finish for these types of samples).  I own a Sherwin Williams fan deck so that is why I go with the SW colors.

I cut very tiny pieces of sandpaper and carefully removed the paint from the areas of the waxed letters.  In hindsight - I could have refrained from putting so much wax on the lettered areas. More of the paint would have remained adhered, and it would have provided for a slightly different effect.  I had to carefully leave some of the blue paint on the lettered areas as it would have very easily been scraped off with the sandpaper.  This turned out to be OK since I knew I was putting a polyurethane over it.

Remove paint with sandpaper
Remove paint from waxed areas

It is possible to just take a big piece of sandpaper and rub across the entire board - but I was going for a particular effect.  I had to be careful not to remove too much of the blue paint from the letters since I had applied so much wax.  After the letters were taken care of - I distressed the corners/edges and some other areas with sandpaper.  Note - the sandpaper gets "gooped-up" with paint and wax, but that is expected with this type of technique.

Beach Cottage Sign - candlewax distressing technique
Finished piece after additional distressing

Once I was satisfied with the distressing, I applied a couple coats of satin polyurethane.  The plaque took it's place of honor over the front door of our cottage.  My good friend commented that it looked like I carved the letters into the wood.  Maybe I'll have to break out my Dremel and try that someday on another project - hmmmmmm...

Beach Cottage Sign - candlewax distressing technique
 (I made the BEACH sign as well in the photo above.  It was inspired by one I saw online at Ballard Designs - another post for another day)...
If you are interested in a general overview of some DISTRESSING TECHNIQUES, see my post here which covers the use of SANDPAPER, CANDLEWAX and VASELINE.
For more beach cottage posts see my Beach Cottage page.

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