Furniture DIY

How To Distress Wood Furniture

Mary Smith
By Mary Smith. Updated: January 16, 2017
How To Distress Wood Furniture

Are you passionate about interior design? Do you want to give your home a rustic, antique or vintage feel? Giving furniture an old, rustic look is all the rage recently and, if you're interested in following this vintage trend, keep reading this article on how to distress wood furniture using one simple trick. You just need primer, which can be applied to all kinds of vintage furniture for the effect you want. Follow these simple steps to transform your run-of-the-mill, pre-made furniture into true antiques!

You'll need:

  • Fine sandpaper.
  • Primer.
  • Brown base paint.
  • Coloured paint.
  • Candle.
  • Rounded knife.
  • Brush.
You may also be interested in: How To Make Wood Look Rustic

Steps to follow:


Etching technique. This is a technique that involves sanding the surface of the furniture. You must do it gently, so that the top surface is rough. To do this, you can use a fine grit sandpaper.

If there is a layer of paint, you should get rid of it by applying etching liquid on the painted wood surface and scrape it off with a spatula one minute after. Use gloves for this procedure. Once you've removed the paint you can proceed to sanding the surface as mentioned above.

How To Distress Wood Furniture - Step 1

If the furniture is not prefabricated, sanding will be easier as you can follow the wood's grain. Prefabricated furniture is laminated, therefore, try to sand as best you can to achieve the desired look.


Remove any dust from the surface after sanding. Use a damp cloth to do this.


Primer. Once you have sanded the wood, apply a coat of primer. This will form the basis for subsequent coats of paint. After applying the paint let it dry.

How To Distress Wood Furniture - Step 4

When the primer is dry, you can apply a coat of base color. Ideally, use a brown base, similar to the color of dark wood. For full coverage, apply two coats of paint and let it dry completely between applications.


After the base has dried, take a candle and rub it on the cabinet. Apply the wax in the areas you want to look older, e.g. the edges and the legs. With this trick, you'll give your furniture a worn look which will add some character to your home.

How To Distress Wood Furniture - Step 6

Remove excess wax from the surface with a brush. Do this carefully so as not to completely eliminate the main layer. This will create the distressed effect.


Once you're finished, apply a couple of coats of white paint. It can be a bright white or off-white, depending on your personal taste. You can also use the color that best suits your style: blue, green, purple, etc. Let the paint dry.

How To Distress Wood Furniture - Step 8

Using some fine sandpaper and a blunt, rounded knife, remove the paint from areas with wax. The goal is to see the color of the base. Do this step carefully as you can easily overdo it.

How To Distress Wood Furniture - Step 9

For a nice finishing touch, you could also apply some varnish to your furniture. You can make a homemade mixture with four parts water and one part primer. Apply a coat of on different parts of the furniture for an even older, rustic look. Now you have successfully distressed your wood furniture.


Follow this etching technique to give furniture a beautifully distressed look and to inject some personality into your home.

If you want to read similar articles to How To Distress Wood Furniture, we recommend you visit our DIY & decorating category.

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How To Distress Wood Furniture