Distressing Furniture Techniques for You

It may take years for a piece of furniture to develop that natural, weathered look. If you want that look in your furniture, that too in a short span, you can opt for distressing techniques. Nowadays, distressed furniture is highly sought-after, and this demand has led to the development of indigenous furniture distressing techniques. These techniques are used to create a worn-out look by artificially aging the furniture, even though they are brand new. Different methods are used to come up with unique pieces of distressed furniture that offer a realistic look.

A piece of distressed furniture can be very expensive, as compared to a similar fresh piece. Don’t lose heart if you are not able to afford a piece of distressed furniture. You can make one out of the existing furniture in your house. You need a piece of old furniture to work on, some tools, and a basic idea regarding how to distress furniture. If you are a beginner, avoid any expensive, new or valuable antique furniture. You may also try these methods on a damaged or a cheap piece. By distressing furniture at home, you can create a unique antique piece, and save money too. Here are some easy methods to create distressed furniture at home.

Using Wax

Sand the selected piece of wooden furniture. Once done, paint the entire surface area with a light brown paint. As the paint dries completely, rub the edges and the raised surfaces of the furniture with wax, as these are the areas that would have been worn out with time. Now paint the entire surface area with a dark brown acrylic paint which will not stick to those parts that are rubbed with wax. Place paper towels over the waxed areas. Gently iron those parts till the wax transfers to the paper towels. You may also use steel wool to rub and remove the wax. Your distressed furniture is ready, and you may use it for interior decoration. If the furniture still has a polished and finished look, you can sand it once again to get the desired look.

Using Paint

Apply a layer of paint over the sanded surface of the furniture. You may use any color of your choice. Once the layer dries, apply another layer of a different color. You may also go for a third layer if you want to. A minimum of two to three colors are required if you want to show the different layers of paint. The next step is to sand the furniture using sandpaper of different grits, for varied effects. Apply more pressure on those areas that are more prone to suffer natural wear and tear. They include the edges, the raised parts, areas surrounding the handles, etc. You may also use a liquid paint stripper to remove paint with a different effect. Once done, you can use screws, nails, hammer, etc., to make some marks on the furniture. Sand down areas with such marks before applying a few coats of shellac.

Using Glaze

Once you are done with sanding and painting the piece of furniture, let it dry completely. Mix equal amounts of glaze and paint (a color different from that of the base coat). You may go for a metal glaze or an antique glaze, and a paint color of your choice. All you have to do is to apply the mixture in small amounts, on selected areas, especially the joints, corners, and crevices of the furniture. Wipe off the excess mixture with paper towels. Otherwise, apply a coat of clear sealer, and use a buffing tool to dull the sheen.

Cracking Paint Effect

This is one of the popular furniture distressing techniques, and is used to simulate the cracking paint effect seen on old furniture. The following are some guidelines for distressing furniture to create this effect.

  • First of all, you have to sand the furniture, and clean it with a tack cloth.
  • Paint it with a water-based color (preferably dark) of your choice, so as to cover the entire surface area. Allow it to dry for at least a day.
  • Once it dries out, make a mixture of wallpaper paste and gum arabic, and apply a thick coat of this mixture on the furniture. This coating has to be almost dry before you can perform the next step.
  • The next step involves application of a single coat of latex paint (any light color) over the thick mixture coating.
  • As soon as you finish with the coating, dry the entire surface area of the furniture using a hair dryer. The hair dryer must be on maximum heat so that the cracks appear quickly.

Materials for Furniture Distressing

You can use nails, screws, hammer, keys, wire chains, nuts and bolts, etc., as tools for distressing furniture. All such materials can be used to achieve a beaten around, worn-out look for painted modern furniture.

  • Start with sanding the edges, areas around the handles, corners, and raised parts. You may use sandpaper in various grits to avoid a uniform pattern. Instead of sandpaper, you may use steel wool.
  • Now beat the furniture with tools like hammer, to create the wear and tear effect. A faux wormhole can be made with a small wire nail and hammer, and small scratches can be created with a wire brush.
  • Various impressions can be made on the entire surface area of the furniture by using tools like hammer, chain, chisel, pry bar, and logs.
  • Clean the surface with a tack cloth and apply wood stain using a damp cloth over the areas, where you have created the holes and marks. Wipe off any extra wood stain and allow it to dry.
  • Once the stain is dry, apply a sealer or polyurethane. This coating will protect the furniture from further wear and tear.

These are some of the easiest furniture distressing techniques. You need some spare time and creativity to create such vintage furniture at home. The simplest way is to paint the furniture and use a piece of sandpaper to rub those parts that are more prone to natural wear and tear. If you want additional effects, add some stain or glaze.