How to Make Furniture Look Distressed

If you are wondering how to make furniture look distressed, simply go through this article and get a clear concept about the process.
Quite contrary to the glistening furniture at your house, distressed furniture appears old and rugged. The distressed painting technique combines new designs with the vintage look. This piece of furniture resembles an abandoned piece but has unique beauty in itself.

Distressed Furniture Techniques

You will be surprised to know that a piece of distressed furniture is more expensive than normal wooden furniture. You must procure all the materials at hand before starting the 'distressing technique'. If you are inexperienced in this field, you must get it done by a professional. The step by step process mentioned below shall teach you how to make furniture look distressed.

Materials Required
  • Sanded furniture/unfinished furniture
  • 2 types of paint and stain
  • Glaze (optional)
  • Topcoat
  • Foam brush/painting brush
  • Sandpaper 100 grit
  • Paste wax
  • Wood varnish/primer
The Process

Step #1
Step 1 involves the basic preparation of the furniture. In this step you have to manipulate the wooden piece to create the distressed look. You need to sand the surface of the furniture before applying the coat of primer. 100 grit sandpaper is rubbed on the surface to smoothen it. Wipe off the dust and then apply the latex primer all over. You need not apply the latex if the furniture is already painted. The primer should be oil based. Allow it to dry completely before applying the paint.

Step #2
You can opt for either of the three process of distressing, namely specking, penciling and dry brushing. Dry brushing is very essential in this distressing furniture technique. A piece of cardboard is dipped in an oil based color mixed with mineral spirits. You need to apply the basic coat of latex paint, preferable of lighter hues or shades of dull colors. Brown color preserves the natural look of the furniture. A broad bristled brush is used for application of uniform coats. Let it dry for one or two days before proceeding with the next steps.

Step #3
After the base color has dried, you need to apply a thin paste of melted wax. The wax is applied in patches on the edges, corners and high points. You have to be very careful while carrying out the process as the intensity of waxing determines the distressed look. Let the wax solidify and then paint the wax with a second color. The waxed surface is covered with a paint of darker shade, other than the base color. It renders a patchy look to the furniture over a lighter base color. Let the color dry completely.

Step #4
This is the last step. Once the color has dried completely, you need to give a good finishing touch to bring out the perfect distressed look. Run a medium grain sandpaper smoothly over the waxed areas. This erodes the shiny appearance and renders an aged and dull look. Rub the sandpaper smoothly for a natural beauty. This makes the piece distant from contemporary furniture.

Do not try the technique on expensive and superior quality home furniture. Do the hammering softly if you are joining one wooden block with the other. For a varied effect of distress, rub the surface with different grades of sandpaper. The primer, base color, or the final color must dry completely before you perform the successive steps, or else one will merge with the other. The finishing touch is an important aspect of the painting process. Keep it clean and wipe with dry cloth. The distressed furniture is an amalgamation of decrepit and sensuous beauty having an aesthetic appeal.
By Saptakee Sengupta
Published: 8/17/2010
Bouquets and Brickbats