Review | Ranger Tim Holtz Distress Paint

Reported by Patti Sokol

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I am a big fan of Ranger’s products and use a lot of different items from their extensive product line in my art journals. I also follow a number of crafting blogs and have seen many of my favorite artists demonstrating the effects and looks that they can get with this new line of paints. So, I am excited to post my review of the Tim Holtz Distress Paint that was new earlier this year, and how I think it can best be used.

The Ranger Tim Holtz Distress Paints are available in 30 of the Distress palette colors, plus 3 metallics. For this review, I worked with a sample in Forest Moss.

Distress Paint

First: I love the packaging! Anything that makes it simple and fast to get right in and get messy (or in this case not so messy) is a big plus in my book. According to Ranger’s website: “Distress Paints have a convenient dabber system for easy and mess-free application.” After you remove the outside protective plastic covering and then the big plastic cap on the top you have to slightly depress the sponge dabber on the top until you hear it click. This allows the valve to open up and the paint to flow from the bottom and into the sponge top. You need to shake the bottle up and you will hear a metal ball inside the container that helps to keep the paint mixed and helps it from drying out. The paint is a fluid matte finish acrylic and is water based so that means it washes up with soap and water and should not stain your hands or clothing.

Second: The sponge dabber top means that it is perfect for painting with stencils, on stamps, and directly onto your project, all without the need for a paint brush. This is another big advantage of these Distress Paints – fewer items to clean up after you craft!

A very important fact to know when using Distress paint is that the blending ability you are used to with Distress products lasts only until the paint dries. Once the paint is dry the results you’ve created are permanent. It seals everything underneath, but you can add layers over it. I feel that this is an advantage as it will not interfere with additional layers compared, for example, to Distress stains which will continue to react and mix with further layers of color that you add to them. So I consider this a third advantage. But you must work a bit quicker (it dries in 3-5 minutes) with this to get the effect you want and have a bit of a plan or you might feel otherwise.

The paint also acts as a resist when using it with Ranger’s Distress Inks or Stains. For example: I use the paint and dab it onto a stamp and then apply the stamp to my project. I allow the paint to dry completely. I get a very detailed clean look as if I used ink. I even have the option of using it with embossing powder when wet. I dry it with a heat gun or allow it to dry itself which should take 3-5 minutes. Once it is dry I can go back over with my distress stain or ink and the two mediums will not interact at all. In fact, the paint will resist the ink or stain to create a beautiful and layered effect.

Stamped Image with Distress Paint

If I want a watery or mixed color background, I shake the bottle up, turn it over, dab as much as I want out to cover the area and then use either a spray bottle with water or a paintbrush filled with water to flick as much or as little water as I want. I can allow the paint to flow, mix with another color, or use a paper towel to dab in certain areas and or a dry stamp to pick up paint with a ghost image or an object to get cool effects.

Any fluid acrylic paint will give you the same effect, but the easy-to-use dispenser and the coordinating Distress product line set Ranger’s Tim Holtz Distress paint apart.


* Convenient packaging

* Easy to use

* Widely available

* Coordinates with other Distress products


* Price

The MSRP of Ranger’s Tim Holtz Distress Paint is $4.99/bottle. It is widely available from local and online craft stores, such as Simon Says Stamp,, and

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6 Responses to Review | Ranger Tim Holtz Distress Paint

  1. Avatar
    Raffaello September 28, 2013 at 3:02 am #

    Gorgeous !!!

    • Avatar
      Patti Sokol September 30, 2013 at 2:33 pm #


  2. Avatar
    Sheri L September 28, 2013 at 3:36 am #

    Hello there,
    While I love the Tim Holtz products, I find that the paint products dry up quickly before using in the bottle due to the sponge dauber cap itself as air can still get into the bottle. I`ve had several that the product was dried up and had to toss the things in the garbage and been disappointed.
    It would be better if the product came with a closed topper and the sponge dauber.
    Just my two cents worth.

    • Avatar
      Patti Sokol September 30, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

      I read on the Ranger website that you can do 2 things:
      1. Mist the sponge top with water.
      2. Open up the bottle and use a popsicle stick and add a tiny bit of water and remix. That should help.

  3. Avatar
    Janet Castle September 28, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    I also use the Distress Paints with my ‘Gelli Plate’…makes for a smooth finish as there are no fillers. Regular acrylic paints have fillers and hence you get a grainy feeling finish on your paper.
    You do have to work fast.


    • Avatar
      Patti Sokol September 30, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

      I agree Janet. You can also mist the top with plain water to slow down the drying process.