Clay Paint, How To's

Blending & Layering Clay Paint – Tips, Tricks & Techniques

Things you will need

  • A piece of furniture you want to paint
  • Sandpaper + Paper Towel
  • Paint Brush
  • At least 2 colours of paint
  • Primer of your choice (I prefer Zinsser BIN Shellac)
  • colour Wax of your choice
  • Clear Wax
  • Top coat of your choice

Step #1 – Clean, Sand & Prime

To start with your painting project, first remove all the hardware if possible and any inserts if you want to paint them separately. Clean it properly (soap and water will do in most cases), and give it a light overall sanding with 220 grit sandpaper. If there are any repairs needed, complete them before priming.  I usually do an overall sanding after repairing the piece. This way once sanding is complete, my piece is actually ready for primer.

TIP : I always prime my pieces.  I use  BIN Shellac Primer to stop bleed through. Priming the old piece of furniture make sure that you will not end up in trouble later. Trust me, I have learned it the hard way.

Step #2 – Paint the first coat of base colours

Try to imagine where you want the colours to go, especially if you are using more that 2 colours. Lay your colours in a same place in first coat, as you want them to be in the final coat. This is a good beginning for blending. As, for layering colours I prefer to start with light colour. Then layer it with darker colours on top of it. You can go other way around, as long as you know where you want which colour and if you will be able to layer it in a way, that colours will peek through the way you want. I hope this make sense.

TIP: I always work with the drawers in place when I’m blending over an entire piece.

STEP #3 – Blending  & Layering Paint

When blending I prefer to have brushes for each colour. And a neutral brush for blending colours together. I have learned a lot from many different experts in furniture painting and here are few of those. Although these artists mainly work with chalk paint, however these technique are true for clay paint and any other mineral paint.

Crys’Dawna from Bella Renovare 

Brandy from Brushed by Brandy

Kacha from Kacha Furniture

TIP : To get a smooth finish, lightly sand with fine grit sand paper (I use 400 grit) between each coat of paint.

Instead of explaining, I think it would be best to share these videos of my favourite furniture artists. Here you go. Enjoy!

The Most Beautiful colourful Painted Furniture Piece

Blended teal and gold leaf buffet with Dixie belle paint

How to layer with Furniture Paint / DIY  Furniture Painting

TIP: Be aware, once you start spraying and blending, the colour will be pulled further into each other and cover more surface.

Step #4 – Dry Brushing  Paint Technique

Dry brushing is kind of layering the paint. In this technique, once one colour is completely dry, you will use an almost dry brush of another colour to layer the paint on top of it, hence called Dry Brushing. The best way to load a brush for dry brushing is unloading the paint once you have lightly loaded the brush with paint.

TIP : Theresa of Restoration Paints Etc. says “When blending colours, less is more. Keep the paint activated by keeping it wet. Mist it when you feel, paint is dragging. Patience is a virtue when blending.” 

The above tip is also true for dry brushing. Less is more. Just touch the tip of a brush into paint and then unload it on a dry lint-free rag or paper towel. This is called unloading the brush. Then with a feather light hand, paint the area where you want to dry brush the second colour, barely touching the surface of the piece.

Step #5 – Final Details & Topcoat/Protect

Now is the time to do the final top coat. Once you are satisfied with the look of your piece, apply the clear top coat of your choice. I go for poly top coat, when there is  lot of wear and tear is expected, like; table tops, counter tops, drawers, buffet tops etc

TIP : It’s a good idea to wait for the paint to dry overnight before applying the protected top coat.

I usually apply waxes after top coat to have more control on the application process.  Just like chalk paint, clay paint is also porous and when dark waxes are applied on porous paint they tend to stay where they are applied and give a rustic dirty look. This is true for glazes, as well. Glaze and Dark waxes makes such a HUGE difference in a piece! To me, a piece looks “flat” without some kind of detail glazing or shading.

TIP: It’s a good practice to let the top coat dry for a few hours or over night before glazing or finishing with decor waxes.

Now, is the time to add hardware. I prefer to keep the original hardware with updates, like painted, or waxed. Sometimes, I add new hardware, if there are knobs missing, broken or don’t like.

Sometimes the best things come out of just going for it not thinking too much…..It’s only paint, right? LOL!


Furniture painting technique of blending and layering multiple colours is truly amazing to achieve a gorgeous finishes. Especially, the layered painting technique is truly one of a kind.

Blending and layering paint on furniture can be achieved in a few different ways. The great thing is that there really is no right or wrong way when it comes to painting furniture. Everyone has their own creative style which makes each makeover truly unique. 


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