Furniture is typically distressed to make it look a lot older than it is, so it's suitable for rustic, shabby chic or cottage style decor. The distress on its own may not be quite the look you're going for; adding a coat of antique white paint gives it a clean look fitting of a somewhat romantic or relaxing cottage environment.
Remove and set aside any loose objects from the furniture, such as tie-on cushions or a removable glass tabletop. Wipe the piece or pieces down completely with a damp cloth to remove dust and dirt. Cover areas that are not to be painted with painter's tape. Sand the entire paintable surface using a fine-grit sanding block.
Sanding scuffs up the existing finish so the new paint adheres better. Pour some of the paint into a paint tray. If the original finish is still visible beneath the new white coating, apply a second coat and allow it to dry as well. Focus on areas such as armrests or a chair seat where the most wear would occur during normal use. Mix a little brown or yellow latex or acrylic paint and water in a disposable container to create a watery glaze-like substance. The more water you use, the thinner and more transparent the mixture will become.
Brush the solution over the antique white and rub most of it away to make the antique finish look even older. The wax helps the paint layers peel away more easily; sand over areas of natural wear to reveal the colors beneath. Wax can also be used on specific areas rather than the entire piece. Antique furniture is wonderful but not in everyone’s budget. But you don’t have to use a older piece, chalk paint or milk paints to get antique looking furniture. Keep reading for different antiquing furniture techniques. There are a lot of different painting and aging techniques you can use. While antiquing and distressing both create an aged look, sometimes used together, they are different painting techniques. When you distress furniture, you remove the finish to look like natural wear and tear.
You want pieces with detailing that give a piece character. Make sure they are solid with details such as serpentine drawers, beading, and turned legs. Apply the base coat, using stain finish paint and a brush, for an aged look. Using flat or matte paint can make the glaze look blotchy. Fix your stencil on the piece and paint over it with your second paint color. Mix your antique paint glaze by stirring thoroughly one part dark brown paint to three parts glaze. To avoid drying lines, glaze in sections. Wipe glaze off immediately with a rag or cheesecloth. Continue applying and removing glaze until you achieve your desired look. To highlight architectural features, brush your glaze into corners and crevices of features, doors, drawer fronts. For the edges; run your brush, with a small amount of glaze on the tip, along all edges at a 45-degree angle to create a line of glaze. Once dried, protect your piece with a coat of polyurethane. The best thing is you don’t have to sand your piece, just paint right over it and then wax. Age your piece using waxes, with or without distressing it first. That becomes a personal choice and the type of antique look you want.
Tips on Painting Furniture
Time can be spent on getting the aged antique look you want. Here is another way of waxing your piece. Instead of using clear wax first, then dark, mix the clear and dark wax together. Chalk painted furniture is resilient and hardwearing. Even though a little goes a long way, and chalk paint will save a lot of time, it can be more expensive than using latex paint, which you should factor in if you piece is large.
You don’t need a lot of dark wax left on your piece to create an aged look, just enough to give a worn look. The piece looks beautifully aged at the end. If you piece is a light wood color and you want a similar rich wood look, as the video above, use antiquing furniture stain first on your piece. Allow to dry before you paint your piece. Distress lightly on the edges for the warm wood colors to peek through. Be careful not to distress too much as the original light wood color will come through. Once you have distressed your piece, wax with clear and dark wax to age it. Dry brushing means wiping most of your paint off your brush before apply it, to get a deliberate two-tone look and reveals the base color underneath. What makes this piece stand out is the new hardware and embellishments which are new to this piece, but make all the difference. Shoe polish is a great way to create an antique look and used by many antique dealers to age furniture. Practice using paintbrushes, sponges and cheesecloth, to get the look you want before using it on your furniture. Apply a thin layer of shoe polish on the areas you want to antique with a paintbrush (straight line) or rag (mottled). Apply shoe polish to cabinet legs, edges or raised surfaces where dirt might accumulate. Remove excess polish with a rag or paper towel.
How to Paint Distressed Furniture an Antique White
Leave some areas darker than others for a more natural aged look. Apply two coats of an acrylic varnish, once the shoe polish thoroughly dries and hardens. This may not give you the wonderful luster that specifically made waxes will produce but if you are on a budget or practicing with painting furniture, this could work perfectly. If you paint/stain furniture, you don’t get a lot of time to work with it before it dries. Get into all the little cracks and imperfections which will add character to your piece when finished. Now its time to wipe the piece down, removing as much glaze as you want.
You can also add more glaze if you have removed too much. To look original consider how it might have been used and worn over the decades. Distress the high points that would have received the most wear and tear and antique the low points or crevices where dust would have settled. They soak in like stain but look like paint and dry a wonderful matte that can be waxed to age the piece. It might be time to move over from latex paints after all and try one of these other paints.
A friend of mine had this little antique dresser passed down to her recently.
I am not afraid to try new things – you shouldn’t be either. When in doubt, check with someone who is an expert. This little how-to guide is for antiquing and distressing with paint. There are many methods out there, and some of it is dependant on whether you are working with a painted piece, natural wood or some man-made product. So don’t be sending me questions about other types of projects.
There are tons of tutorials on distressing and antiquing online. Have a look around, settle on something you like and give ‘er a try.
I just wanted it to look a bit distressed on the edges and corners.
You could, should you so desire, hire some neighbourhood kids to really work your table over. Here’s the after: drying in the craft room. This applies to pretty much any painted project. Be sure to wipe the sanded furniture down thoroughly with a tack cloth or damp rag – you want to make sure you get rid of all the debris before painting.
You can even vacuum the crevices to be extra sure you’re debris-free. It sticks to everything and really stinks up the place. This base colour is what will eventually be revealed when you distress the furniture – like the base coat under a crackle medium. Browns tend to lend themselves to fake, wood-like surfaces.
I applied two coats and allowed for the proper drying time before proceeding to the next step. Using a candle, rub wax onto the surfaces where you’d like to see some of your fake wood exposed.
Edges, the bottoms of legs, corners and knobs/handles are all places that would normally see some wear and tear.
I have another piece on the go that will have a lot less fake wood exposed. Use something like a paint brush to gently clean the surface of those waxy bits the candle left behind – they’ll get stuck in your top coat otherwise. Aura is a little thicker than other paints and it dries fast – you don’t want to over-work it. Ask the people at your paint store for a recommendation.
I had to apply three coats of white to cover my dark brown. Remember, you’re better off applying multiple thin coats than a couple of thick, drippy ones.
You can apply your paint with a bristled brush, a foam brush or brush and roller – everyone has different preferences. If you go the roller route, edge like you would if you were painting a wall – do the edges, tricky bits and corners first, and then roll the flat surfaces with the roller. If you’re using a foam roller, don’t bear down on it – it creates lines and imperfections. Step back from the piece as you are working. Essentially, you’re going to make an antique glaze. Far cheaper than buying glaze, and the results were just as good. It came from my kitchen tap and was free.
I made it super runny – probably one part paint to three or four parts water.
I tested the runniness on a piece of cardboard. The idea of this glaze is to add some patina, not to completely cover the beautiful top coat you’ve just finished.
I applied a wee bit at a time with a foam brush to the furniture, and then wiped it down with a lint-free cloth. The secret here is to use a light hand – you can easily apply a second coat to darken it.
how to antique and distress furniture paint movita beaucoup
I also used the damp cloth for some of the application.
You can let some of the colour settle into ridges and wood detailing – it will lend itself to an aged look.
I have read a lot of posts on the internet that recommend applying a wipe on poly over painted furniture. It’s much runnier than paint, and can drip all over the place. Some people use foam brushes and rollers, so that’s an option you could explore. Also, the poly appears foggy in the can, but it goes on clear. Don’t put anything on newly painted surfaces for at least 48 hours. Then be ginger with them for about a week – watch out when you’re moving the piece around, etc.
I think it takes about a month for a piece to be fully cured. However, you could lightly sand between each coat of paint and poly with very fine sandpaper if you’d like a really super-awesome finish. Don’t forget to wipe away the sanding debris before applying additional coats of paint and/or poly. It makes sense that a cheese knife would work on creating all those fantastic wear marks. It sounds like a fancy dimpled knife-type apparatus.”. Bought the same polycrylic finish, did you notice any yellowing?
Your post has helped me to give the piece a solid antiqued finish in a beautiful dusty turqoise. It really hides imperfections and adds a wee bit of character to older pieces… or those without much character to start with!
We have some old pieces that started out as nice junk but have become old junk.
I thought antiques are those which are not only old but something which looks royal and feel like treasuring it.
I think it might have been the stain bleeding through. That’s the huge bonus to antiquing and distressing – no one else will tell you. Just say some dude from yesteryear dropped it or left that gob of paint on the back leg. But you should have seen the original colour. And your mother really should thank you for your past efforts. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
I do paint my woodens, but never tried the rustic look. Thanks so much for this information, and for your humor.
I hope mine end up looking as great as yours!
I am currently redecorating in a cottage and wanted a corner tv stand for my husband’s monstrosity of a tv that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg yet blend well in the cottage. November 3, 2010 at 5:05 am thank you we did a table !
Thanks again for your easy to work with instructions!!!
I am going to be bold and try an olive green but not sure what color to put under this. It’s been very difficult because sanding the edges takes it down to the bare maple too quickly.
I hope it goes well – there are lots of tutorials out there. Just go with what you feel most comfortable with, and start with a door to experiment. Your guide was entertaining to read as well. It saves a lot of time and anxiety over ruining a piece you’ve just spent a week repairing, stripping, sanding and priming!
All the other websites were running together and had few pictures.
I am doing this project with an old dresser that we are pretending is a buffet in our dining room.
How to Antique Furniture
May not actually distress any furniture, but had a wee chuckle reading your advice. Getting ready to try this on a wall mounted bar shelf tonight.
I have been finding that people are looking for a creative way to add furniture to their decor cheaply.
I think it is well done and worth the traffic for you.
You are indeed a star and should go public.
I guess my best advice is to wax carefully and if you’re going for a distressed look, don’t worry about chips!
I will definitely try this to give new life to two ugly dressers.
I was thinking black base coat, red top coat?
I have a 80’s pressed wood headboard that is pretty cool looking, but ugly in its current fake wood finish. So just do what you need to the original piece (sand?), then proceed without the base coat. Ceilings and wood trim are rough blue pine lumber. Then you can go a little crazier with the base coat, as you can select how much of that you want to reveal.
I think you should select your interior colour according to whatever you put on the outside – make it the same as the top coat, base coat, or a variation of one of those.
I ended up using a blue over brown, and learned a few things along the way regarding flat vs. Much more primitive than yours, but fits the decor perfectly. That means alot coming from my “instructor”!
I appreciate it just the same, grasshopper. Iron is a totally different thing, and would require different paints.
I mentioned in this tutorial on your bed!
Without painting the furniture cannot be long lasting.
Paint increases the value as well as life of furniture.
I have just purchased an antique (probably late 1800’s) wooden wheelbarrow. It is pretty much all the same color…a light brown.
I have seen others that have some red, green or blue paint on the surface that looks very nice. How would you go about doing this without making it glossy at all?
Perhaps try asking at your local paint store. Flat paints, of course, are gloss free, so that might be an option.
If you’re putting the wheelbarrow outside, you’ll also have to consider that.
I just did two bedside tables, that was enough for me, and the tables didn’t even match. Great pictures, great step by step and you are funny which is a bonus.
I do not think it is wood cause it is abnormally heavy. Thankyou for all the little details you included and for not making it a complex process!
After you wax and then paint the top coat, how do you remember all the places you waxed when it comes time to scrape it off?
How To Get An Antique Weathered Paint Finish
The door is in impeccable shape, and is a finished wood.
I guess it depends on what the base coat is – if it’s oil, you can’t put latex over it, for example. Also, if you like the colour of the base, that would help, as it’s the colour that will be revealed. Looking to distress some lanterns as well.
I have 3 pieces of furniture waiting for me to start. Temperature may have also been a factor (look on the cans for the recommended temperatures). All the other colors are good….but no yellows work for me. Must me something about the pigments used to get the color.
I am about to distress my first piece of furniture and very excited about it. Ask at your local paint store – they can point you in the right direction!
I want to paint it just like you did the table above. If your paints aren’t compatible, you’ll get peeling. Thank you for being so thorough and giving the specific materials you used. May 27, 2012 at 7:26 pm i’m very new with this and don’t want to screw up this nice piece of furniture i have purchased.
5 Ways To Paint Furniture WITHOUT Sanding
All is well…except working with the polycrylic.
I started with sponge ‘brush’ and gentle hand – saw ‘stop/start’ lines. Then went to a good quality brush – still see lines. My start/stop lines faded into the piece. Maybe you’re using too much or too little poly on the brush?
As stated in many comments above – it will all depend on what material the furniture is made of and what type of paint is currently on the piece. Key is making sure your paints are compatible – so be sure to give them as much information as you can when you’re picking up your products!
Been looking for the right read for quite some time to distress my entry table in the living room.
I can’t wait to try the directions you gave!
And you had me cracking up with your humor. Sadly, there won’t be much chance of them getting damaged hanging there.
I painted her bed, dresser, desk and nightstand.