Distressing Furniture Ideas

Distressed wood dresser

Image by vivido via Flickr

Have you ever had to buy a new piece of furniture to replace something you already had and the new piece just sticks out like a sore thumb?  It looks like the stuff you’ve had and loved for years but it’s “new” and “shiny” and just doesn’t fit in?

How do you make it look like it’s been loved over the years, too?  Distressing furniture is a great way to get that “new” off of a piece of furniture.  Sometimes you NEED a new book case but you want it to look like you’ve had it a while and make it fit in with the pieces you already have.  Distressing is a good way to do that…and pretty therapeutic, too!

You can use just about anything for distressing furniture.  Stain, screws, hammer, chains, nails, keys, etc. all work well as part of your arsenal.  Oh!  And crackle paint is a good one to have up your sleeve, too.  Here’s a couple of ideas for you to use when you need to “old” up a new piece of furniture.

The Simple Ways to Distress Your Furniture

There are lots of easy ways to make your furniture look like it’s been around a while.  You need a little arsenal of tools to do this.  A hammer, some sand paper (different grits works best), a thin nail (wire nails work well), a wire brush, a bolt, etc.

The obvious place furniture first becomes “distressed” is any of those raised areas.  That’s where things bang in to it or it dings in to something when you’ve opened it.  You can use your different grits of sand paper here to help a void creating a uniform pattern.  Nothing screams “fake” like it all being the same!  ;)  Rub some here and some there…more where your hand would naturally rub on the furniture.

Next you get to “beat” your furniture!  This is the therapeutic part!  :)  Use all the things you’ve gathered to create a wear and tear effect.  Hit it at an angle with a chain.  You can even create faux wormholes with the thin nail or you can use a small drill bit and drill them in…RANDOMLY…not uniformly.  It’ll look like you just drilled holes in if you do that.

Look at REAL wormholes first to get and idea of how they look & just copy that…somewhat.  You can create scratches and deeper “grooves” in the wood surface using the wire brush.  Then put some wormholes in the scratches and grooves.

Time to take the hammer to it and hit your furniture here and there…especially on edges that would normally get dinged up.  Don’t JUST do the edges but remember to hit them since that’s where they’d naturally occur.

Now it’s time for the finishing touches.  Clean your furniture with a tack cloth and then apply some wood stain or Bri-Wax over the areas you just distressed.  I really think Bri-Wax is the best for this type of finish.  And I LOVE it for all kinds of things!!  Anyway…Make sure you rub it in good in all those holes and marks. Wipe off any extra stain but make sure you also “leave” a little extra in the dents and grooves and holes…for that “old distressed” look.

If you use wood stain and not Bri-Wax, let the stain dry and then apply a good sealer over your furniture.  I like MinWax Polycrylic because I can get it in different sheens.  Flat/matte all the way up to glossy!  This coat will protect your fun finish you just created.

Using Wax and Paint to Distress Your Furniture

You can use wax – in a multitude of forms – to distress your furniture and it’s very easy to do!  You just need wax!  And by wax I mean an old candle or even some of those broken crayons from your child’s crayon box.  This is also the same way you’d create that rubbed or worn finish to a piece of furniture.

Of course we all know the key to any project is – PREP WORK!  So you need sand your furniture first, clean it off, then you paint your furniture with a dark (or light – depending on the top coat) color paint. I’ve used a nice chocolate brown before with a cream top coat.  But if your top coat is going to be dark…like BLACK…you want to use something lighter underneath.

I’ve even used various colors in my base coat so different areas show different colors.  That gives me the look of ages showing through.  Like the furniture was first painted yellow then blue then red…and those colors are showing through at different rates of “wear and tear”.

After your “base coat” has dried you just need to take the candle and rub it along the areas you want to show through.  For that worn “distressed” lovingly used look you’d want to rub the edges and some of the raised areas of the furniture since that’s where your furniture would have been “worn”  over time.  Now you can paint the entire surface area with a top coat of paint.  This layer won’t stick to any area that you rubbed with wax.

After your paint is dry, take a sponge or a rag and rub some wood stain (or BriWax!) over the furniture and make sure you let it get in to all those cracks and crevices.  Don’t give it a nice “even” finish.  That won’t look “old”.   Give it an uneven coat of stain and then let it dry.

Once your stain dries it’s time to get rid of that wax…if you want.  You don’t have to…I’ve always just left it there, but I use a “clear” or white wax candle.   If you want to get the wax off, it’s actually easy.   You can lay down some paper towels then some old newspaper and then cover the newspaper with a paper towel (this one keeps your iron clean) and simply iron the areas that you rubbed the wax on.  The wax melts and is absorbed by the newspaper.  TA-DA!

Now you have a distressed piece of furniture that looks old and loved and is ready to be used.  :)  If it still looks toooo new to you try rubbing over the whole piece with a piece of steel wool, then clean it off and paint over the whole thing with a nice flat coat of Minwax’s Polycrylic.

To read about doing this process in your kitchen you can click here –>Distressed Kitchen Cabinets

Now go get those chains and nuts and bolts and stuff and have some fun!!

P.S.  Check this out!  I found this great book that has all kinds of wonderful tips and ideas about distressing furniture in it for you.  It talks about crackling, distressing and antiquing your furniture or your found objects!  ;)

Restyling Junk

And for more about “Hand Rubbed Finishes” for your furniture (or cabinets) you can click here–> How To Create Hand Rubbed Paint Finish

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