How Do You Paint Furniture With a Distressed Finish?


Quick Answer

Distressing furniture adds wear marks to the piece and gives it an older look. While it is possible to distress furniture using the finish alone, more interesting results occur if you physically distress the wood before painting. This process is likely to take an afternoon.

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Full Answer

  1. Create physical distress marks

    Use a hammer or a chain to create physical dents in the wood. Drive clusters of nail holes into the surface. Heat a pan of nuts and bolts in the oven until they are hot, and pour them on top of the wood to create burn marks. Do not be so aggressive that you damage the integrity of the furniture.

  2. Prepare the surface for painting

    Remove hardware, such as drawer pulls or hinges. If the piece has a glossy surface, sand it lightly to allow the paint to adhere. Use a tack cloth to remove the dust from the piece between coats.

  3. Apply the base coat

    Paint a base coat of satin latex on all the surfaces. Choose a bright, contrasting color that shows through the second layer. Allow it to dry thoroughly. Apply paraffin wax to the areas where you want the base color to show.

  4. Deliver the top coat

    Paint the second coat on the piece. Once it is dry, use medium-grade steel wool to remove paint from the waxed surfaces. Remove any dust and apply a polyurethane finish to protect the finish.

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