Tips For Painting Distressed Mason Jars ~ Make inexpensive distressed mason jars using any colour of homemade chalk style paint with these simple doable tips!
I am kicking myself because I used to have all kinds of the perfect kind of mason jars for painting. I used to can a lot of fruits like cherries, peaches and apricots every summer. But over time I ended up with a surplus of mason jars that took up a lot of storage space. I tried to donate them to the thrift store but they did not want them because at that time they would not be able to resell them. So I ended up taking them to the recycle depot. Who knew several years later painting mason jars would become a very popular DIY décor item?
Not was all lost because I still have about two dozen mason jars that are perfect to paint with a distressed look. My daughter just graduated from medical school and will be setting up a new place to live near her new place of work as a medical doctor. She hasn’t started work yet and has some time to do some DIY projects before her new job begins. We recently had fun painting twelve of the jars.
After painting a lot of jars I learned through trial and error what did and did not work well. Here are my…
Tips For Painting Distressed Mason Jars
Choose Jars With Raised Lettering
There are various kinds of mason jars that come in different sizes, shapes and with different lettering and designs on the jar. I prefer to use pint and quart size jars with a fruit design on the jar and a wider mouth at the top for canning fruit. I prefer to use jars with lettering for my DIY décor projects because the raised letters make it really easy to distress the painted jar.
Set Up A Painting Station
The painting process I used took several coats coats of paint that required drying times in between. Even though each coat took a couple of minutes to apply per jar the whole project took a couple of days to complete because of the in between drying times. I set up my painting station on the dining room table in the dining room. It was really easy to go back and paint the next coat of paint without having to clean up everything between each step.
Make Your Own Chalk Style Paint
You can buy ready made chalk style paint but I find the prices vary and the colours are limited. I prefer to make my own because it is a very inexpensive alternative. I only need to make as much as I will use and I can make it into any colour that is available in acrylic paint. Lastly, chalk style paint is VERY easy to make with just three ingredients and this method:
- 2-1/2 teaspoons calcium carbonate powder
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 ounces or 4 tablespoons acrylic craft paint
Mix the calcium carbonate powder with water until a smooth consistency. Add the acrylic craft paint and stir until smooth.
Prime The Jars With A Spray Paint Primer
This step is totally optional and may generate some discussion. After having painted a number of DIY projects with and without priming first I prefer to prime it first. Chalk style paint is supposed to make it so you do not have to first apply a primer but in my experience it has not always worked when painting different types of materials including wax coated milk cartons, metal and glass. It takes minutes to spray one coat of primer and that is all that is needed in this project and about twenty minutes to dry. This extra step makes it a lot easier to apply the first coat of acrylic chalk style paint. I first spray painted a primer on wax coated milk cartons in Milk Cartons Turned Into Chalkboard Paint Herb Pots and on plastic in Painted Faux Rustic Windowpane Frame. With both projects I was happy with the painting process and how the projects turned out.
Use A Foam Brush
I tried different kinds of brushes and I am most happy with the results you get when using a small or medium size foam brush. I gently placed the brush inside of a plastic bag in between drying times so I used one foam brush for each paint of colour.
Use Short Up And Down Paint Strokes
I learned through trial and error that you get the best appearance by applying the paint with short up and down strokes without lifting the foam brush. I also tried applying the paint with long strokes and lifting the foam brush each time but I was not as happy with how the paint applied to the jar.
Paint Two Coats Of Black
Apply two coats of black chalk style paint allowing each coat to dry thoroughly. The black coat underneath gives the mason jars an opaque vintage or rustic look after it is distressed.
Paint Two Coats of Top Colour
Apply two coats of your choice of top colour. My choice was white but since you are making your own chalk style paint you can use any colour to fit your home décor.
Adjust Your Calcium Carbonate, Water And Paint Proportions If Necessary
Interestingly the recipe I provided you with worked very well when mixing the black chalk style paint. But when I used the same recipe to make the white chalk style paint it created a much runnier consistency. So I added about a teaspoon more of paint and another teaspoon of Calcium Carbonate and I was much happier with the thickness and consistency of the white paint and how easily it was to paint on top of the black paint. So it is OK to experiment a little. But according to Diane a real chalk style paint expert and the author of the blog In My Own Style she suggests not overdoing the calcium carbonate powder because it will be more difficult to distress the jars.
It Is OK To Have An Uneven Paint Job
The beauty of painting distressed mason jars is the paint application does not have to be perfect and totally smooth. If there are a few blobs or drips developing that is actually going to work to your benefit when you distress the jars.
Use A Sanding Sponge For Distressing
Sanding sponges are little pricier than sandpaper but I much prefer working with them and the distressed look they create. I gave each jar an all over ‘buff’ with an 3M Pro Grade 80 Grit Medium Grain block sanding sponge. This gave it a smooth surface. Then a used a 3M Pro Grade 36 Grit X-Coarse Grain block sanding sponge to distress the lettered and other random areas including the blobs and lumps on the mason jar. My daughter wanted her jars to have a less distressed look so did not sand her jars as much and as vigorously. I wanted more of a distressed look so I applied a lot more pressure when sanding.
Wipe Dust Off Thoroughly
After the mason jars are distressed be sure to thoroughly remove all of the particles and dust created from the sanding. I first wiped each jar with a dry paper towel. Then I wiped each one with a moist paper towel and gave a final wipe with a dry paper towel.
Apply A Matte Finishing Spray
Spray each jar with two thin coats of Krylon Matte Finish Spray. Each coat takes about two minutes to dry so this is a very quick but important final step. This matte coating makes your distressed mason jars moisture resistant protects them from yellowing and having a glossy sheen. You have just protected and extended the beauty of your newly painted and distressed mason jars!
My daughter wanted to make matching distressed painted mason jars to use as vases for some coral coloured silk hydrangea flowers. I have to admit they look stunning.
I hand painted each jar with pink acrylic paint to spell the word ‘WASH’ and I am using them as vases for some bright pink silk Gerbera daisies.
These distressed painted mason jars are going in my laundry room. I’ll be sharing in a future blog post where they are being displayed.
Final Comments: These are my tips for painting distressed mason jars! It is an inexpensive, easy and fun DIY décor project. I love to make my own chalk style paint by adding calcium carbonate powder to acrylic craft paint. I bought mine online through Amazon but it can also be purchased at the pharmacy. It is easy to do because you don’t have to strive for a perfectly smooth coat of paint. Actually you want to have imperfections so you get the distressed look. It is also a lot of fun creating custom gorgeous looking vases or storage containers for your home décor!
Your Turn: What is your favourite type of chalk style paint to use? Do you have any tips that work for you when painting mason jars and giving them a distressed look?
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Thanks for stopping by and reading tips for painting distressed mason jars! I am thrilled to have you!