DIY Chippy Paint Technique

When we fist started making our vintage inspired corbels I was determined to make the paint look vintage. I did a lot of research online, stared forever at vintage corbels on google and I had MANY FAILED attempts at making our corbels look vintage. Finally I came up with a method for the perfect chippy paint.

What makes paint chip? In short, we don’t know. BUT after doing test after test after test what seemed to work most consistently was the wood being sealed. I tested many top coats and the only one that worked every time was beeswax! I have also tested this method with latex paint and chalk paint and found the only paint that will chip is milk paint.

Below I will be showing you a how to chippy paint on a corbel. In this case it’s our Griffin corbel created from our digital template which can be purchased on the cheap from here.

Here is a list of supplies you will need to get that chippy finish we all NEED in our lives! Some of these supplies contain affiliate links to actual products we use. When you purchase from them we get a few cents. You get the supplies needed and we get pennies, win-win YAY!

Supplies needed:



Milk paint

Paint scraper

Small paint brush


Stain brush 


Small whisk


Drop Cloth


Annie Sloan wax brush

Clear wax or antiquing wax

This is Miss Mustard Seed in Marizpan  


Above is Old Barn Living in Stoneware

*I have painted hundreds of corbels and perfected this method (I’m not saying this with a snooty tone I promise). So one huge tip before we get started: DO NOT PAINT WITH A FAN ON!! Trust me on this.

Step 1. Stain the corbel. I usually use Special Walnut or Early American and I like to let it dry for a day.


Step 2. Put on your gloves and apply a generous amount of beeswax to your piece, rubbing all over.

Step 3. Give your corbel a quick wipe using your rag.

Step 4. Whisk together milk paint (I use both Miss Mustard Seed and Old Barn Living) and water using your whisk and bowl. Follow directions on the bag and make sure your paint is more on the thick side. However not too thick!

Step 5. Using your paint brush, paint away! If you notice the paint doesn’t stick that means its working and you need to have a ton of patience that this is going to work. You will keep adding a small amount of paint and keep brushing away. If you do not get one solid painted corbel you will not achieve the look. Those holes will dry looking like holes. So keep painting! 

Step 6. Leave it be. Blow drying is unnecessary. I REPEAT YOU DO NOT NEED TO BLOW DRY! My corbels chip every time without blow drying.


Step 7. You have one chippy corbel! I use this paint scraper to chip my corbels. You want to chip the corbels in the areas that look natural, mainly the sides of the corbel. Please do not use sand paper ever when using this method. Sandpaper makes a vintage inspired piece look forced and not natural.


*If you noticed I don’t paint the back or bottom of the corbels. It’s a bit unnatural to do so. Usually a vintage corbel is taken off a building so the back and bottom will not be painted.

*This method will chip every time, but you cannot determine how chippy it will be. Sometimes I have paint falling off everywhere and other times I just have cracks. Both beautiful. When the corbel overly chips for a more natural look I will use a wax brush to continue chipping. Take your wax of choice clear or dark and gently brush the corbel.

What about multiple colors you say? We’ve got you! Here are the steps to take:


Apply milk paint color of your choice, let it dry completely

Apply beeswax

Apply milk paint in another color, let it dry completely

Use paint scraper or wax brush to continue chipping to your desired look 

*If you apply beeswax and try applying multiple colors of paint only the top coat of paint will stick and the paint underneath will chip away and not stick. The coat you applied in the middle will come right off if the beeswax is first applied. Beeswax must be applied right before the last coat of paint.

*Lets say your corbel didn’t come out as chippy as you wanted, there is no going back. If you redo this process over again without sanding the entire piece your working on it will just chip the entire second coat of paint off.  That’s what I love about this process. These are vintage inspired pieces, no two will ever look the same. 

 Please send me your pictures of your chippy pieces, leave a comment below and let me know what worked for you and if you have any questions about this process!



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