How to give furniture a painted-wash look

Written by lisa east hunter
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Colour washing gives furniture a soft, antique finish. You can create different effects by altering paint combinations. Most colour washing for furniture starts with a light or white base coat. A wash coat that is lighter than the base will result in a sun-bleached appearance. A darker wash coat will mimic distressing. Both finishes are executed the same way.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Dropcloth
  • Foam paint roller
  • Paintbrushes
  • Latex paint
  • Rags

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  1. 1

    Place your furniture on a dropcloth. Wipe the surface of the furniture thoroughly with a damp rag to remove dust or soil. Remove drawers and cabinet doors; you should paint these pieces separately.

  2. 2

    Using a brush, apply paint to fine detail work, crevices and corners. Smooth any paint seams with a roller to avoid brush marks and drips. Use a rag to smooth out mistakes. Apply a thin coat of paint in the corners where drawers and doors will be shut.

  3. 3

    Apply a base coat to the larger areas of your furniture with a smooth foam roller. Foam rollers provide a smooth finish and are easy to use. Allow the base coat to dry completely.

  4. 4

    Mix 1 part latex paint with 8 to 9 parts water for your wash coat. Begin applying the wash coat to your furniture with a paintbrush. Move in a systematic method around the furniture using crisscross strokes. Overlap the Xs to create a weather-worn effect. Allow the first coat to dry completely. Apply a second coat with same technique as the first.

  5. 5

    Apply a coat of matt polyurethane coating to the furniture. Roll the polyurethane onto the surface with a smooth sponge roller. Bubbles may appear in the coating when it is applied, but they will smooth after a few minutes. Use matt instead of gloss polyurethane to preserve the antique appearance of your washed furniture.

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