I’ve been wanting to experiment with dry brushing paint as more of an accent to a stained furniture piece, than fully painting or whitewashing the whole piece. Dry brushing is a great painting technique. It gives a soft look with grain still showing through.  Learn how to achieve this painting look.

Here is the basic technique for dry brushing furniture as a color accent, but not necessarily covering the whole piece.  Start with a fully stained, finished piece. If you are the one who has stained the piece, I would do the paint step before applying a clear coat.

I don’t dry brushing a piece that has a glossy finish at all. I would only do this on something with a flat or matte finish. You may need to sand to fix some spots and you don’t want to do that on a glossy surface.

Dry Brushing:

(Note: Practice this on a board or some other piece of throw away wood before you start on the actual piece.) Dab your paint brush in the paint, maybe 1/4 of the way up the bristles. Then, using a throw away board, cardboard or a paper plate, paint back and forth until the brush starts to run out of paint and it is a real, dry “bristly” streak you are making with the paint brush. I would err on the side of having the brush too dry, when you start, than possibly not dry enough. It’s easy to add extra paint but harder to fix areas where there is too much paint.

Then, very lightly, just make small, short streaks with the brush over the piece, maybe 2-4 at a time before repeating the process with your paper plate or cardboard piece.

For Mistakes:

Keep a clean wet, wrung out washcloth next to you while you work. If you apply a streak that just doesn’t look right or has too much paint, grab that cloth and wipe that streak of before it dries and needs to be sanded off. BUT, this would only work if you are dry brushing in spaced out streaks as shown in the picture and not trying to cover the whole piece. If you are covering every square inch of the piece with dry brushing and you wipe some of it away, you could end up with a real mess. In that case, sanding would be better.


Depending on the look you are going for, you could finish the piece off with a glossy or satin clear coat of polyurethane. Another option, that will smooth out any mistakes, would be to do a light sanding over the whole piece with 320 – 400 grit sandpaper and then clean it off. From there you could do a layer of furniture wax or a coat of polyurethane, depending on your preference.

How to Dry Brush Furniture