Many new furniture pieces have been distressed or "aged" in order to achieve an antique look. Real antique or aged furniture is usually quite expensive, so learning different ageing techniques on new or nearly new furniture can save money while still achieving the same look. Two techniques used in ageing furniture are distressing and crackle, both of which can be implemented at home with little cost.
This method of ageing is used to create a worn look. It is used selectively on spots such as corners and edges where the most wear and ageing naturally takes place. To achieve this look, apply a thin layer of furniture wax to the areas to be distressed. Let sit for about an hour to dry completely. Apply a coat of wood glaze on top of the dried wax. The drying time for the glaze is usually around 12 hours, no more than 24. When applying both the wax and glaze remember to brush in the direction of the wood grain. Use a piece of sandpaper to remove the glaze in desired spots, such as over corners and tops of the furniture piece.
According to Faux Painting Techniques.com, "there are many ways to obtain the crackling, but the basic rule is that you are putting a fast drying paint or varnish over slow drying paint or varnish that has not yet cured". Choose a painted furniture piece and apply what is known as a "weather crackle glaze" on top of the paint. For best effects, use a freshly painted base. As the glaze dries, a dramatic crackling effect takes place, giving off a look of an aged old pieced of furniture.
Manual Beating and Cutting
Another way to age furniture is to give it a good beating. Select a mid-weight object such as a chain or screwdriver and hit the furniture with it. The dents and scrapes that appear will give it a worn, antique look. Using a chain can also remove some of the paint off the furniture in selective spots, which is a defining characteristic of aged furniture. To further give the piece a rustic look, take a knife and cut along the grain of the wood in several spots. When finished, either leave the piece as is or apply a crackle or distressed finish for further ageing. The result is a newly distressed antique.