How to Distress Wood

Written by anthony rose
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How to Distress Wood
Distressed wood adds a timeless look to your home. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Distressed wood provides an affordable alternative to purchasing antique furniture. Chairs, tables and mantles can be made to look weathered or time worn, even if they were purchased yesterday. The process of distressing wood can dramatically alter the decor of a home or office. With a little effort, contemporary furniture can be given the look of classical design and craftsmanship. The process of distressing wood can also refurbish furniture that has been worn down through overuse or the passing of time.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Fine-grain sandpaper
  • 3 Paintbrushes with 2- or 3-inch wide bristles
  • 1 Can of flat coat paint
  • 1 Can of wood glaze
  • 1 Can of paste wax
  • 1 Can of protective sealant
  • 1 Chamois
  • 1 Dust sheet
  • 1 Rag
  • Goggles
  • Painter's mask

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  1. 1

    Spread the dust sheet over the floor of your workspace and place the item of wood furniture on it. The dust sheet will catch any paint that may drip off of the brush or furniture.

  2. 2

    Apply a coat of paint over the wood using the paintbrush and a can of flat coat paint.. The colour you choose as this base coat will be visible through the distressed finish. The darker the colour, the more noticeable it will be.

  3. 3

    Wait 24 hours for the flat coat of paint to dry.

  4. 4

    Apply the paste wax to all the areas designated for distressing using a chamois. If the entire piece of furniture is being distressed, an entire coat of paste wax will be required. The wax should be spread in a thin and even manner. Wait at least one hour before moving on to the next stage of distressing.

  5. 5

    Apply one coat of the wood glaze paint using the second paintbrush. This will be the primary colour of the distressed furniture. In order for the flat coat to be seen, the colour of the wood glaze should starkly contrast the base coat. Wait 24 hours before moving on to the final stage of distressing

  6. 6

    Put on goggles and painter's mask to prevent wood chips from getting in the eyes and dust inhalation. Grind the sandpaper against the areas designated for distressing to reveal portions of the flat coat. Wipe off excess dust using the rag.

  7. 7

    Apply one coat of protective sealant with the third paintbrush to protect the paint from wearing down or chipping over time. Wait 24 hours before moving the piece of furniture back into the room it is intended for.

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