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Distressed Furniture Painting Techniques

Pragya T Feb 18, 2020
Certain painting techniques are used to make a piece of furniture appear aged and old. Here are steps on painting techniques to make the furniture look distressed.
There are many ways to make a piece of furniture look aged and worn out.
Distressed furniture painting is one such method, that gives a piece of furniture old and aged look. Distressing furniture is considered as a refinishing technique, however it is opposite of finishing in a conventional way.
For distressing, the furniture piece finish is deliberately worked on such a way that it looks less than perfect. 
To destroy the object's finish sandpaper or paint stripper is used. The artisan will often remove some of the paint, leaving marks of several layered of paint speckled over wood grain underneath. This worked piece of furniture is the finished distressed furniture.
Here are some pictures that will give you inspiration and ideas to transform your ordinary furniture into a antique-looking one.
Certain stores sell distressed furniture, but by following some simple tips on furniture painting you can transform any piece of furniture that looks like an antique furniture, and create a unique home decor.

Steps to Distress Furniture

Things you will need are:
  • Flat latex paint of any color
  • Flat latex paint of a contrasting color
  • Two-three quality paint brushes
  • Sheets of old newspaper
  • Some clean rags
  • Sandpaper of 2-3 grades
  • Paste wax
  • Wood varnish
  • Denatured alcohol

Step #1

Select a site where there is good ventilation and enough workspace, so that you can place your contemporary furniture item in the middle and move around it comfortably, while working on it. Place a good layer of old newspaper sheets, and then place the furniture item on it. You can wear protective gear, like goggles, rubber gloves, and mask while working.

Step #2

Before you start painting the furniture, you need to make sure it is free of any dirt or grease. Take a rag and wipe the furniture as clean as possible. Then use denatured alcohol to further clean the furniture.

Step #3

If you are working on an unfinished piece of furniture, then paint a coat of latex primer first on it. If the piece has already been painted with an oil paint, then use an oil based primer on it, so that latex paint will hold on it. Let the primer paint layer completely dry.

Step #4

Then paint the furniture with a coat of latex flat paint shade you want to see through, when the furniture item is distressed. This base coat of paint color is usually a lighter shade, than the top coat. Apply the paint using brush in the same direction of the wood grain, then let it dry for 1-2 days.

Step #5

Then apply a thin coat of paste wax, using a rag to the area that you don't want to look distressed, like the corners, high point around handles, etc. If you wish the entire furniture item surface to look distressed, then apply the paste wax all over the furniture surface. Then let the home furniture item dry for 2 hours.

Step #6

Now using paint brush and the coat of the contrasting/darker shade of latex flat paint, cover the waxed and unwaxed surface of the furniture item. This will make the top coat. Allow it to dry overnight.

Step #7

Now take a coarse grade sandpaper, and lightly sand areas of the piece that have the underlying paste wax. Sand in the direction of the wood grain, you can keep changing the grade of the sandpaper to get a more natural random effect. Sanding will remove the top glaze, but will allow the flat paint shinning through.

Step #8

After you are satisfied with the distressed look of your wood furniture item, clean off any paint particles sticking to the furniture. Then again allow the paint to dry thoroughly. Now apply a final coat of sealant, varnish, or use antique furniture wax on the entire furniture piece, to make the furniture look more hand-rubbed and aged.

Helpful Tips

There are many other techniques which can be used to make your furniture look aged and unique. Here are few tips that you can use.
To render a cracked furniture effect, apply a thick layer of chalk paint on surface of the furniture and immediately use a hair dryer on it. You will notice the cracks forming as you are drying it. You can apply clear wax on it, to bring out the cracks even more.
You can also use petroleum jelly to distress furniture. Apply a base coat of paint to the furniture. Let it dry and then rub a bit of petroleum jelly to surface areas which you want to show through. Apply the top coat and let it dry.
To give the furniture some dents or scrapes you can use various tools. Using a chain can give you elliptical dents, while a hammer will give more pronounced dents. Be creative, and use various tools on the furniture to see what kind of effect they gives.
You can paint the metallic objects on the furniture in a beautiful gold or bronze color to make your furniture look even cooler.
So, follow the above steps and tips to give your furniture the antique distressed look and create a unique home decor!