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How To: Distress Furniture

Terra George All Blog Posts How To

How To: Distress Furniture

Distressing wood furniture is a great way to add some character to your home. Vintage, antique, and worn-down furniture has a charm to it that new furniture often does not. One option for achieving this look without spending a fortune on antiques is distressing the furniture yourself. By following a few steps and learning a few techniques, you can quickly learn how to distress wood furniture to achieve a charming, aged look.


The first step is to determine what you'd like the finished piece to look like. If below the distressed areas you'd like to see an old paint color, as if the piece has been painted many times over, you'll need to paint two or more colours. If you want the rubbed-off areas to reveal bare wood, the technique requires only one coat.

Here's my project for this tutorial, a set of 4 dining chairs my Uncle Bill graciously donated to us! They were very dirty! I made sure to wash them twice with TSP ECO mixed with warm water and a Brillo pad.


1. Paint your base color. Right now you have two options: you could use one color, your base color, and have that be the overall color of your piece. The distressed bits that show through would then be from the wood itself.

Or  you could have this be your base color, add candle wax or Vaseline to areas you would like your base colour to show through (ie. edges, corners or throughout for a very distressed finish), paint a color over top of that and let dry, and then wipe off the areas where you applied the candle wax or Vaseline with a damp cloth, so the base color is the bit that pops through. Both will lead to beautiful pieces.


Even after washing the chairs twice, they still had a high sheen in some areas and a stinky old furniture smell. I wanted a layered finish so I Base Coated every chair with Superior Paint Co. Base Coat to remove the smell, block any possible tannin's and give extra adhesion.

(Left to right: Sandy Beach, Mint, Greystoke, & Burlap)

I am obsessed with the trend of mismatched chairs! After each chair was dry I painted each in different Superior Paint Co. colours!

Once the paint is dry I took my clean rag from the DIY Kit and lightly dampen with water and wrap it around my index finger and softly buff the high pints on the surface. This exposes my base coat and the stained wood bellow.

I then took our my Natural Brillo pad and dampened with water and this will give more of a chippy finish.

HOT TIP: Always use Natural Brillo pads when distressing furniture because the green ones will bleed the pigment and stain your furniture.

Then I used my Sanding Pad and buff any areas that are too chunky and sand areas I want to highlight and expose the raw wood to give extra depth.

2. Seal the furniture. After your project is completely dried, use a tack cloth to remove any access paint chips and apply Top Coat Sealer over the surface. This will protect the job and allow it to look fresh and new for a long time. Top Coat Sealer can be applied using a brush, sprayed or with the Top Coat Applicator Kit.

3. Enjoy and show off your master piece!





  • Use an old candle or Vaseline and run it on the edges and corners of the piece of furniture. When you paint it wait until the paint dries and use a damp rag to get the wax off. It should come off easily.
  • Study other pieces of distressed furniture for inspiration before beginning.
  • Practice first on a piece of scrap wood or a hidden area on your piece.
  • Always make sure to prep your furniture ie. Clean, Repair, Sand or Strip if needed.


Things You'll Need


Happy Painting & Distressing Everyone!



Don't forget to show off your Superior Paint Co. Makeover on the Pinterest Artisan Board!




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