Distressed Painted Furniture

Distressed painted furniture is one of my favorite DIY projects.  It is taking a furniture piece I paid next to nothing for, and turning it into a custom item that I love and adore!  Are you thinking, “Great, but I don’t know how to distress furniture!”.  Well, I am going to show you how I distress furniture, and a few other things!  Let’s take a look at some ideas first.

Distressed painted furniture from Jenniferdecorates.comThis dresser was in a beach rental on Tybee Island.  I really wanted to load it up in my car and take it home!

Distressed Painted Furniture from http://www.jenniferdecorates.comDistressed painted furniture doesn’t always have to have a “chipped paint” look; it can just have an aged look with either dark wax, or acrylic antiquing paint.

Distressed Painted Furniture from http://www.jenniferdecorates.comI saw this really cool piece in a downtown condo in Nashville.  What a ton of character!

 Distressed Painted Furniture from http://www.jenniferdecorates.comThis is a chandelier that hangs in my dining room.  I absolutely adore the distressed and aged white paint.

How to Distress Painted Furniture

the Right Way – 4 Easy Steps

The key to distressing painted furniture, is making the furniture look like a piece that has been distressed naturally through time.  Steps to distressing furniture:

1.  Paint Furniture


You can paint your piece using chalk paint.  I love chalk paint because there is no sanding or priming necessary.  Two of my favorite brands to use are Amy Howard and Annie Sloan paint.  If your furniture is stained, no worries!  Chalk paint will apply perfectly.  For more information about chalk paint, read my post “Chalk Paint Furniture“.

2.  Distressing Like a Pro

How to distress painted furniture the right way from

Remember, you want to sand off the paint in places where time would wear off the paint naturally.  In the photo above, I have pointed out several example areas where you want to sand off the paint.   Be careful not to take off too much paint in one area, and not enough in another.

3.  Aging the Distressed Paint

distressed painted furniture from http://www.jenniferdecorates.comThis is the last step when distressing furniture, and one the most important.  Adding a dark wax or acrylic antiquing paint gives the piece another layer of “age”.   Take a look at the close-up photo I took above; see the dark color, and how it adds age?  Again, the key is darkening the piece where it would naturally become dirty and worn from time.

chalk-paint-furniture-5aDark Wax – Annie Sloan instructs you to apply a coat of  clear soft wax first, and then apply your dark wax.  Use a bristle brush to get into the cracks and grooves.

Acrylic Antiquing Paint

How to distress furniture from http://www.jenniferdecorates.comI am a huge fan of using acrylic paints to distress furniture. I know chalk paint and wax are really popular and I love them, but I have been distressing for years using acrylics.  My two favorite colors are called “Burnt Umber”, and “Raw Umber”.


How to distress furniture from“Burnt Umber” is a brown color, and “Raw Umber” is a very dark black/brown color.  So, it depends on the particular job and patina you are going for, as to which one you should choose.  In the photo above “Raw Umber” is on the left, and “Burnt Umber” is on the right.

How to distress furniture from http://www.jenniferdecorates.comMy Antiquing Technique:

I pour out a small amount of the acrylic paint onto a paper plate.  Then I add a little water to the paint, (about a teaspoonful) and mix into the paint.  Next, I take an old brush and wipe on the paint, immediately following with a slightly damp rag, rubbing in the direction of the grain.  If you find you want the antiquing darker, let dry and repeat.  This is a really simple application!

 4.  Sealing Your Furniture

How to distress furniture from http://www.jenniferdecorates.comIf you apply wax to your distressed painted furniture, that will seal your furniture.  Some wax manufacturers tell you to use a clear wax first, then apply your dark wax after the clear wax is dry.

When I distress furniture with acrylic paints, or latex paints, I use polyurethane to seal my pieces.  You can purchase it in a small can for small jobs.  Minwax also sells quick drying polyurethane in a spray can.  I have had really good luck with it, and find it much easier to use!

My Best Places to Find Furniture

I am an avid garage saler!  Since I was a toddler, Saturday mornings my parents would load me up in the car and head out to find sales.  You NEVER know what you will find!  Garage sales are the best places to find the cheapest furniture.

My second favorite is the flea market.  You won’t find furniture as cheap, but you will find it all in one stop.

I hope distressed painted furniture never goes out of style.  I think if it does, I won’t care, because I love it.  Good luck on your DIY project!








Share this page!Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInDigg thisShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrEmail this to someonePrint this page