After years of trial and lots of error I recently published an article tilted, “How to Paint Furniture like a Pro” and the response from readers was huge. One of my favorite things about blogging is that I can share the many lessons I have learned working as an interior designer with everyone and these are techniques that I have fine tuned over the past twenty years. Several readers wanted to know if I had tips for distressing furniture and the answer is absolutely, slightly more technique involved but doable for sure.
1. Access Your Piece:-The first step in any furniture painting project is to look over the piece for possible repairs and type of finish/color of the piece. Decide the look you want for the piece; will natural wood show through the distressing or a base coat of paint.
2. Sand Your Piece– Lightly sand the piece using 220 sand paper, use a coarser paper for a more rustic look. After sanding wipe the piece clean with a tack-cloth.
3. Prime Your Piece- This step is optional when distressing but I typically prime all of my painted pieces to be sure that the paint adheres properly to the piece and is durable.
4. Paint Your Piece– If you are not happy with the base color of the piece (wood finish or existing paint), choose a base coat for the entire piece. If your overall look is distressed white or a color, paint a darker brown as a base. If your piece will be black go for a lighter base or sand down to the natural wood when possible. Then add your final color of paint. Designer tip– Paint a few layers of paint that were reminiscent of the period the furniture is from to add vintage character.
5. Wax Your Piece (Optional)– Use candle wax and rub it onto the surfaces where you are looking to achieve the distressed look. I recommend the natural places where distressing will occur; corners, edges, curves and legs (same tip when sanding). Be sure to rub off the wax residue that accumulates. With this technique I like to paint a top coat and then once dry use a scrapper for distressing the spots where wax was applied. I use this technique most with my rustic cottage pieces.
6. Sand Your Piece Again– I love this part, let your inner artist come out. Sand layers using a power palm sander, try using different grits of sandpaper for various effects.
7. Glaze for an Antique Look (Optional)- Once you are satisfied with the amount of distressing it’s time to apply a glaze. I recommend Minwax Express Colors, just remember that the glaze will stain the wood if this is the look you are after. Wipe off the piece with a damp cloth.
8. Protect- Apply a clear coat of poly to keep your piece looking like the day you created it. Sit back and admire.
These techniques can be applied to furniture, kitchen cabinets, mill-work and doors. Don’t be intimidated you can do this my friends and you will be so proud of the results!