A Beach Chic DIY with Saltwash

With degrees in Business and Marine Biology, Jaime and Carol Hunter probably had no clue they’d wind up working in the business of wooden waves and fake fish, but much like the evolution of Saltwash, everything just fell into place.

Love of the ocean and everything that goes along with it was ingrained in both Carol and Jaime even before they married and founded Saltwater Salvage Designs. Carol spent childhood IMG_0960_1summers at the beach before making the permanent move to Wilmington, and Jaime was born and raised here. When they finally got together, the two began refinishing furniture after a six-month honeymoon/surfing jaunt around world. From that point on, they approached their business in an organic fashion.  

“It’s all evolved. There’s never been a real plan. We were just kind of trying different things,” said Jaime.

Carol says that a lot of designs and ideas stem from what the two want to put in their own home.

“If we like it, then we want to make it. We ask ourselves, what would be cool in our house?”

Through international and local travel, they kept noticing the aged effect the salt air and water had on houses, and they asked themselves just how they could get that same effect without having to live by the water for 100 years.

Enter the idea for Saltwash. Through many tests and prototypes Carol and Jaime perfected the formula, and now anyone can get that “layered sun and salt air soaked look” over the course of an afternoon. We dropped by the work space of Saltwater Salvage Designs one afternoon to get a tutorial from the professionals themselves. Here’s our step by step guide to getting that Saltwash look.

saltwash diy-74


  1. Step 1: Find a piece of furniture
    Saltwash can be applied to a variety of surfaces including wood, metal, and even plastic. Think Aunt Dorothy’s hand-me-down dresser that’s seen better days, or that coffee table you’ve been lugging around since college. 
  2. Choose your base paint
    Saltwash can literally be used with any kind of paint! The additive works with acrylic, latex, oil, and even specialty paints like chalk paint. Got an old bucket of paint leftover from a project? Add in some Saltwash for a completely different look. 
  3. Add the Saltwash
    Carol and Jaime recommend that for a quart of paint you use anywhere from 20-25 oz of Saltwash, but if you’re working with less than a quart, pay attention to the consistency. You want it to look like cake batter. Side note: Saltwash will not change the color of your paint.
  4. Apply the Saltwash
    We can’t stress enough; this isn’t a gentle process. Carol and Jaime recommend that you glob the product onto the furniture’s surface. You’re looking for peaks of paint, which you’ll get by dabbing your brush up and down when applying the product. Be sure to cover the surface entirely.
  5. Let the Saltwash dry
    You’ll know it’s finished when it becomes tacky to touch.
  6. Smooth the Saltwash
    Using the same application brush, simply smooth out the peaks of paint using a gentle back and forth stroking motion with the brush. You still want it to have a textured look. Now wait for the Saltwash to completely dry.
  7. Apply top coat of paint
    This coat of paint will not have any Saltwash product in it, and to get the full effect, we recommend using a different color. Let this coat of paint completely dry before moving on to the next step.
  8. Sand the piece of furniture
    Using a light grit sander (we recommend a handheld sander for ease of use, but feel free to sand by hand), sand the piece of furniture in different areas to let the bottom Saltwash layer peek through. 

Our biggest advice when working with Saltwash: don’t be afraid! This is not a sensitive DIY. After the first project, you may find yourself Saltwashing everything because of the minimal effort it takes to get the high-end, weathered look that’s all the rage. To get inspiration and a video tutorial, head to the Saltwash website. If you don’t need further convincing and just want to buy your own can of Saltwash, take a trip to Airlie Moon, the only local retailer. Be sure to follow Saltwash on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with all the new projects, and tag us in yours! We’d love to see your summer DIYs.