Distress Furniture for an Antique Look April 25, 2016 – Posted in: Design – Tags: , ,

How to distress furniture for an antique look:

Antique and antique looking furniture is all the rage these days, but you don’t need to shell out exorbitant amounts of money to obtain antique furniture, you just need to know how to achieve the look using furniture you already have or relatively cheaper, modern furniture. Antique furniture gets its distressed look from being passed through generations and bits of paint being worn off, and sharp edges being dulled by being moved around many times.

So how do you go about getting this distressed look without all the distress? It’s a rather simple process, and certainly faster than waiting around for years and years while the furniture does it to itself.

Nothing will betray the age of your piece faster than fresh, sharp edges, which just about scream ‘new!’, so the first step is to soften these straight edges and corners by taking a hammer to them. Proceed with caution here, the aim is to age the furniture, not damage it. We want to recreate the look of being moved around often, of being banged upon and slightly smashed into, so a comparatively softer touch is needed when doing this. Another neat trick is to drop the hammer from (relative) height onto the surface of the piece to imitate age appropriate nicks and small dents, you can also scrape the ‘claw’ end of the hammer across the surface of the furniture for further scrapes and scratches.

Then you’ll need to decide how you would like the completed piece to look. If you want the piece to look as though it’s been painted many times over, then paint two colours. Brighter colours work better for the base coat as they’ll show up easier through the distressed top coat. Or if you’d like the piece to show bare wood through the distressed paint, then only one coat is needed.

Start off by gently sanding the furniture and then wiping it down entirely. Now it’s time to paint the first coat onto the wood surface, avoid glossy paint as this tends to make furniture appear new. If you want the ‘wood peeking through’ look, then once the base coat is dry, sand the paint off the areas that would naturally get distressed, such as corners and places that you would hold the furniture. For the two-tone look, rub some candle wax onto the areas you want the underneath colour to show through, including the sides and back of the furniture. Then you need to apply the top coat of paint.

Nearly there. For the visible wood look, sand the distressed areas again and then wipe the piece down with tack cloth (a type of cloth that is treated with tacky material that removes loose particles from furniture). For the two-tone look, paint a second coat over the base coat and wax. Once dry, rub some steel wool over the waxed areas (the steel wool will only rub the wax off, not any of the other paint), then wipe the piece down with tack cloth.


Lastly, you can decide whether to finish the piece off with a coat of polyurethane or not. Doing so will seal the piece, making it durable for years to come. Alternately, you can leave the piece as is, after all it is meant to look like an antique.