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Do you have rubbish pieces of furniture in your garage or home? Do you think that components of furniture are useless and want to waste them? Stop a minute! Depending on the style of your home, you can now create amazing distressed furniture. There might be another reason the old furniture does not match the new home decor look, and you consider it good for nothing. However, before proceeding, you have to learn how to distress furniture.

Undoubtedly, distressing furniture can give your furniture an antique look. I know that not all people know how to distress furniture with paint; therefore, I’m here to cover you. I will share all the necessary details to distress furniture in the right way, how to distress furniture with wax, and everything about distressing furniture. Let’s get deeper into the details!

Distressed wooden chest foot

What Is Distressed Furniture?

In simple words, distressed furniture is what has been damaged or deliberately weathered. There are numerous reasons that lead to wear and tear of the furniture. Sometimes, it requires sanding or paint elimination with strippers, or many other distressing mediums can help here. Additionally, distressed furniture helps you get imbue furnishing with any kind of personalized home decor.

It is here to be noted that the wood requires special distressing techniques, materials, tools, and others. It may include concrete, metal, glass, stone, plaster, plastic, and so on. Distressing furniture shows the space filled with themed furniture.

How To Distress Wood with Paint

How to distress furniture is super easy if you follow all my instructions. It will transform the furniture into a shiny look, and you can place it in your home, garage, or anywhere else. Let’s move on to distressing furniture without wasting any time.

how to distress wood with paint

Necessary Tools & Materials

  • Paint having your desired finish and color.
  • Sandpaper.
  • Paint brush or roller as per your convenience.
  • Candle.
  • Polyurethane.
  • Steel wool.
  • Drop cloth.
  • Stain (optional)
  • Tack clothes or rags.

Easiest way to distress furniture

Step 1: Preparations

The process of distressed furniture pieces is all started with the necessary preparation. Check out the space and prepare things accordingly, such as laying the drop clothes, etc. Examine the furniture and remove the knobs, nails, or other unnecessary material before painting. Remove windows or doors as a true and safe way to distress furniture.

Step 2: Sanding and Cleaning

cleaning and sanding before Distressed Furniture

How to distress furniture with sandpaper:

The next step towards how to distress dark wood furniture is sanding and cleaning. Sand everywhere on the surface and examine. Always start by light sanding, and you can apply more force depending on the condition. If it’s previously stressed, apply polyurethane to get the best sanding results.

Don’t forget to make the corners and edges softly with sandpaper. After that, it’s time to clean the sanding residue, and rags are the best way to handle it. In the end, wipe again with a tack cloth and eliminate all the dust and dirt.

Step 3: Paint The Piece of Furniture

teal distressed furniture
Teal distressed furniture

Now apply the paint to the piece of furniture in a way that you want it to look. I recommend you purchase at least two colors.

The first color is the base color and the second will be used to paint the upper layer. In this way, the furniture will give you the best distressing results.

Here, choosing the right color is also important and taking this decision after thinking.

Next, paint the entire piece of furniture thoroughly and let it dry. Don’t be afraid to apply the second coat as it’s necessary for the best furniture look. Again let it dry completely.

Step 4: Apply The Wax

I recommend applying the wax to the top paint layer for the best distressing results. Moreover, rub all the areas with candles in different areas. Give special concentration to the corners and edges. Don’t worry if the furniture already has two coats; it will not create any problems.

Step 5: Distress The Wood

Before implementing this step, make sure that the furniture is fully dried. Now, eliminate the paint and start distressing furniture using sandpaper or wool. It’s a bit tricky; go for wool over the waxed part if you have applied the two coats. It will help reveal the base color onto the furniture.

Using wood stain and dark furniture wax for furniture distressing
  Using wood stain and dark furniture wax for furniture distressing

In case you have applied only a single coat, you can go with any of the tools, i.e., steel wool or sandpaper. Perform this step until the base wood starts showing to you. Distress the corners and edges gently and carefully to get the desired results. Finally, wipe all the remaining dust or residue using a tack cloth.

Step 6: Apply The Stain (Optional)

For an antique look, applying stain is a good way. First, buy a quality stain, apply it, and wipe it onto the extra spaces. Apply in straight motion except going randomly. Lastly, leave it for a few hours without doing anything further.

Step 7: Protect The Distressed Furniture with Polyurethane

Protection is very important for distressing furniture. Polyurethane is the best solution for it. It acts as a sealant to protect both the wood and the color. After thorough drying, you can again install the windows and other hardware components.

how to distress furniture with vaseline

It is so easy to distress furniture using Vaseline that you just need to dip your brush right into the Vaseline jar or petroleum jelly without getting messy.

Before painting, you can apply Vaseline/petroleum jelly to the furniture surface to prevent paint from adhering to the furniture. You can use chalk paint, milk paint or any paint of your choice.

Now, take a cloth or rag and rub the Vaseline-covered areas after the paint has dried. Rubbing the paint off the surface reveals a gorgeous distressed paint finish. The Vaseline will help the paint come off easier.

Distress Furniture With Paint

Chalk paint is widely used for wood to give it a unique look. It’s a bit different from regular paint and good to distress furniture. The other steps to distress wood with chalk paint are the same such as sanding, cleaning, priming, waxing, etc. The only difference is that we will apply the chalk paint here. The primary benefits are that it offers an aging and long-lasting look to the furniture.

How To Distress Furniture Without Sanding?

We can go distressing the furniture without sanding. First, paint the surface with chalk paint and after that, apply the milk paint over it. Next, use a small amount of antiquing glaze using a sponge and rub gently. It will give the distressing wood a natural look. Apply the wax in the corners for natural distressing. Congrats! You have done distressing the wood without a sander.

How To Distress Furniture With Stain?

Defining distressing furniture with stains is pretty simple. Start applying dark wax or stain over the wood. Use the rag to remove the applied stain/wax. It’s time to apply a high-quality protective finish and paint the wood.

How To Distress Furniture With Vinegar?

How does vinegar distress furniture? It acts as a vital solution for distressing wood, and this method was found accidentally. Vinegar is also used in distressed wood furniture. After beating up the wood, apply the vinegar to make it look like new furniture. It’s a pretty simple DIY task having the same steps discussed above. The difference from other methods is only one step. Here, I used to wipe it with vinegar instead of other compounds.

FAQs On How To Distress Furniture

How do I make furniture look distressed?

It is simple to follow the steps mentioned above to distress the furniture. For it, you can apply milk paint, chalk paint, vinegar, water-based paints, and latex paints, depending on your requirements. Don’t forget to choose your desired color to match the home theme.

Is it possible to distress furniture with any kind of paint?

Yes, we can apply different kinds of paints to distressed wood, for example, chalk paints, latex paints, stains, milk paints, and other water-based paints. It also relies on the way you apply the paint using a brush, roller, or sprayer. In the end, the final paint finish also decides the type of paint.

How do you make furniture look old?

Distressing is the best way to make the furniture neat and look old. First, prepare the area and sand it precisely. Paint it and apply wax over the top layer. In the end, distress using sandpaper and apply the protective layer as a final touch.

How do you make modern furniture look rustic?

There are many ways to make modern furniture look rustic, but the crackling method is considered the best. For it, we wax the furniture after painting, and it’s the easiest way you can use it. We also call this method the “waxing method” due to the use of wax.

Final Words On Distressing Furniture 

In conclusion, distressing furniture is a DIY task that is both rewarding and fun. You don’t need to practice a lot to distress furniture. I always emphasize following the right instruction, as mentioned above. I hope my shared instructions will save your time, efforts, and money by providing you with the best distressing furniture results.

Rosalie Sanchez-Holapaints writer and owner

Rosalie Sanchez

DIY enthusiast with years of experience in home decor and home improvement. With a passion for educating consumers about DIY projects. Every time, I work with our painting professionals to provide you with the best painting product reviews and how-to advice. You can follow me on Facebook.

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