Distressing Furniture

Distressing furniture is a beautiful look that gives a piece of furniture that 'time worn' effect. This look is perfect for that piece of furniture that gets a lot of use and still needs to look great.

Coffee tables, bathroom vanities, kids furniture, and many more pieces look great when distressed.

Some people like using two colors when distressing furniture. One for the solid base coat and one to top coat and sand through.

kids faux furniture

White is the base coat here. The blue was painted on top and sanded back off in areas. This is a great look for kids furniture. It can certainly handle some wear and tear and still look good. It also creates a fun look for kids rooms.

Some like just one color when distressing furniture, with only the bare wood showing underneath in places.

distressing furniture

This is the look I prefer in most cases.

Here's the things you'll need when distressing furniture:

• An oil based Paint, one color or two depending on your desired end result (one quart for each color is plenty unless you're working on a large piece of furniture, like a large entertainment center)

Brush designed for oil based paint

Sanding block or sanding sponge with a medium and fine grade

Clear coat (usually I'll use either a satin polyurethane or Benjamin Moore 'Stays Clear')

• If you use the stays clear you'll need a latex brush, if you use polyurethane then you can use the same brush you painted your color with

Here's the simple steps to achieve this effect:

1. Paint the piece of furniture the color of your choice and allow it to completely dry. Use an oil based paint simply because it will sand the best later. If you're using two colors, then go ahead and paint your top color on solid and allow it to completely dry.

2. Now decide where you want your distressed areas to be. Usually they will be on all edges to a varying degree. For example one side may be more worn than the other. And in the middle areas of the piece you'll want to choose random spots to distress. This will help it look more natural without showing any kind of pattern.

3. With your idea of where you want to sand clear in mind (you could even use a pencil to map out your areas on the furniture since you'll be sanding it off), now use the medium grade side of your sanding block to sand through the paint to reveal the bare wood or base coat color you've chosen.

4. You want spots to be worn but you don't actually want them to be rough. So next you'll want to use the fine grade side of your sanding and sand back over the same areas until they are nice and smooth.

distressed furniture painting

This is a piece that someone wanted to look worn and accent this darker dining room.

They wanted it very 'distressed' and here is a photo to show you the detail...

distressed furniture detail

They were very happy with the effect this piece gave their dining room.

The final step is to protect your finish...

5. Now you're ready for the final protecting finish coat, your clear coat. You could use a satin polyurethane (which is very common on furniture) or a product like Benjamin Moore 'Stays Clear'. With the 'Stays Clear' you'll need a latex brush as mentioned in the supplies list. With the polyurethane you can use the same oil brush you used to paint your color, after cleaning the color out of your brush of course.

That's it. You've distressed a piece of furniture and given it a unique look that should last a long while. In some cases this has even extended the life of furniture I was about to just get rid of. So whatever you use it for, I hope these suggestions help you.

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