How to Distress Dollar Store Books with Chalk Paint

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Photo of a white chalk painted book stack with 'Let it Snow' on the binding and snowflakes art in black vinyl cut on a Cricut Maker. The three books are tied together with green jute and there is a big red bell and a sprig of pine greenery to the side. The book stack is on a white wood table with greenery and fluffy white garland in the background.

Distress dollar store books with chalk paint to make beautiful decor pieces!

I gave Dollar Tree paperback books a makeover using white chalk paint to make this beautiful stack of books.

I added Christmas decorations to mine, but how cute would these books be painted in pastel colors for spring or stacked up to elevate dessert trays for a wedding reception?

Smaller books could also be used to decorate a tiered tray!

Square photo of finished distressed books painted white with chalk paint.

At first, I was hesitant to try this DIY on paperback books because I thought the covers would curl up. To my surprise, they held up well to paint 😉

I used my Cricut Maker to cut the vinyl words and snowflakes to decorate the book spines. If you have a cutting machine and would like to use the snowflake art, you can download the Snowflake SVG file here.

These books take minutes to make and they dry quickly. Check out the supplies list and all the details below.


  • Paperback books from Dollar Tree
  • Brown kraft paper
  • Mod Podge (I used Matte)
  • Chalk paint
  • Brown acrylic paint
  • A foam applicator brush and a paintbrush
  • An X-Acto (precision knife)
  • Scissors

How to Make Distress Books Using Chalk Paint – 3 Easy Steps

STEP 1: Cover Your Book With Kraft Paper

Start by cutting a piece of kraft paper large enough to cover your book. First, coat the back cover with Mod Podge and smooth kraft paper over top. Finish covering the book the same way.

Mod Podge applied to a book to adhere kraft paper as a step in a DIY Chalk Paint Distressing technique.
Cover in kraft paper.

STEP 2: Trim

Trim the excess paper using an X-Acto knife or scissors if you prefer.

Cutting away excess kraft paper from a Dollar Tree paperback book before adding white chalk paint for an aging technique.
Cut away excess kraft paper using an X-Acto knife.


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STEP 3: Paint and Decorate

Paint the cover, spine, and back cover of the book with chalk paint. This doesn’t have to be perfect. I think it looks better if some of the brown kraft paper shows through.

Painting over kraft paper covered Dollar Tree paperback books with white chalk paint to give books an aged look.
Apply chalk paint.

To make the edge of the book look aged, I mixed a very small amount of brown acrylic paint with white chalk paint and lightly dry-brushed it over the edges of the covers and spine with a paintbrush. Photo below.

Brown paint and white chalk paint dry brushed over the edges of a book painted with white chalk paint. Part of a technique to give books a distressed look.
Dry brush technique to apply light brown accents.

Next, mix brown acrylic paint with water to make a wash. Use a foam brush to go over the three remaining sides of the book (the closed pages) as shown below.

Painting over the edges of a book with a brown acrylic paint wash - DIY aging technique.
Brown wash applied to the sides.

Then mix a little white chalk paint with water to make a wash. Use a foam brush and paint over the brown. This will lighten the sides and let hints of brown showing through to give the edges an aged and worn look. See below.

When your books are completely dry, decorate and display them!

Edges of a book distressed with a chalk paint and aging technique.
Closeup after a white chalk paint wash was applied to the sides.
Distress Books with Chalk Paint - Vertical Pinterest Pin to share!


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