Distress painted furniture by removing paint from the high points where normal use would cause it wear away after many years of use. In order to achieve the look you want, it is sometimes necessary to add more layers of paint before sanding or rubbing away the high points. Use of wax or petroleum jelly on these areas before applying the top coat makes rubbing away the extra paint easier after it dries.
Abrasive materials such as fine grit sandpaper or steel wool work well to wear away the paint, advises BobVila.com. Be cautious of using rough sandpaper that often leaves scratch marks that take away from the time-worn look. If the item has several different coats of paint, remove different amounts of paint and allow these differing colors to show through. In the areas of greatest wear, sand to bare wood.
Distressing and antiquing furniture are two ways to make a newer piece look older. Distressing focuses on the raised areas, while antiquing focuses on giving depressions a darker look, as if they have collected many years of furniture polish. Instead of sanding away polish, it involves applying coats of paint and stain in combination to age the piece.