How to Distress Furniture – Step by Step Guide

For a unique look, many homeowners are mixing distressed furniture with current modern styles.

Before you go throwing away your old dining room or bedroom sets, reconsider by refinishing it. Distressed furniture can be very expensive to buy so why not create it yourself with a little imagination and some TLC. This step by step guide will give you some helpful tips that the pros use when distressing furniture.

1. Sand: Sand down the finish on your piece so the primer/paint has something to adhere to. Use medium/fine grit sandpaper for this.

2. Rough up surface: Take a few tools (hammer, screw driver, chain, etc.) and rough up the surface of the piece. This is left up to your discretion of how distressed you want to make the furniture. The more you rough up the surface the more aged the piece appears.

3.Prime: Use a good quality white primer and give the piece of furniture a thin coat. After the piece has dried, follow up with a light sanding.

4. Top coat: Pick a top coat that complements the room. If you want to stay neutral, then go with whites/off whites. Apply two even coats of this top coat. Sometimes, homeowners will request a crackle finish in which the top coat appears as if the paint has dried and is starting to chip away. For a crackle finish read the steps below:

a. Follow steps 1-3.

b. Optional Base coat: Get Creative!! If you do not want the piece to show white crackle from primer coat, then now is the time to be creative. You can apply a different base coat which will show behind the top coat when the crackle takes effect.

c. Apply crackle glaze where you want the top coat to crackle. Allow to dry according to directions on package. This is usually a clear glaze sold at your local home center.

d. Top Coat: Apply top coat evenly (try not to over brush which may cause paint to drag). This top coat should be a different shade then the primer/base coat to make the crackle stand out.

e. Continue the follow steps below.

5. Optional Glaze coat: After the piece has thoroughly dried, apply a glaze over the entire piece. This step is optional but recommended. This glaze (usually dark brown/grey) when applied, highlights all of the roughed up areas (step 2) and really brings out the details in the piece. The best way to apply the glaze, is with a brush and then wipe off the excess with a rag. Wipe with even pressure (in one direction).

6. Apply a seal coat: Water based Poly works good for this. Apply 2-3 thin coats of this product according to the manufacturer’s recommendation and do not forget to sand in between coats. This step will protect all of your hard work.

Now step back and enjoy your newly antiqued furniture. You will be amazed at the results and how quick and easy you have changed the look of your room. Take your time & most importantly be creative with this!!