Get a Free Estimate

Distressing Wood: Getting The Faux Finish You Want

Do you love the look of worn, country furniture, or antique wood chairs and dressers? Do you long to give your home a sense of age and history? Well, you don’t need to spend thousands on fancy antiques to get the look you desire. All you need is a hammer, some sandpaper, and a lick of paint to distress your own pieces! The distressed look is all the rage now and is easy to do at home. Here are some tips on how to give your wood furniture that antique feel!

Tools You Can Use
Almost any tool can be used to distress wood, but here are some of the most time-honored implements to help you age that furniture:


  • a hammer
  • a mallet
  • sandpaper (fine, medium, and coarse)
  • a drill
  • a fine black marker
  • a wood file
  • a wire brush
  • a sock filled with nuts, bolts, or anything hard


Where to Distress
Though it can be quite the stress-reliever, it is important not to overdo it when it comes to distressing your wood. The aim of wood distressing is to achieve an antiqued, aged look, not to make your furniture look like it belongs in a dumpster. To get the look you want, focus on particular areas of your furniture, specifically those areas that get the most wear. Try distressing:


  • the top and edges of arms on chairs
  • feet on the bottom of tables, chairs, and dressers
  • tabletops
  • rungs on bar stools and rocking chairs



How To Distress a Chair

Almost any wooden piece of furniture can be distressed so that it looks just like an antique. Here is a great way to antique your favorite rocking chair or armchair that just looks a little too new.

What You Will Need:


  • fine sandpaper
  • drill with a 1/16"drill bit
  • wood file
  • wire brush
  • hammer and mallet


Doing the Project:


  • Begin with the arms. Using your sandpaper, gently remove a little paint along the sides of the arms of the chair. Think about where your own arms would rest if you were using the chair and concentrate on these areas. Try to sand with the grain, and don’t take off too much wood.
  • Smooth the ends of the arms down using your wood file. Once again, file in the direction of the grain, and aim for a smooth, subtle curve.
  • Using your mallet, gently add a few dents to the sides of the arms. Don’t hit it too hard though, or your may seriously damage your piece.
  • Move to the legs of the chair. Dent the legs using your mallet.
  • Using your hammer, knock some chips into the feet of your chair. Again, don’t break off too much wood. The chair should still stand firmly on the ground.
  • Using your drill and drill bit, drill four or five small holes into the back of your chair. Drill the holes in a cluster, to simulate woodworm.
  • Using your sandpaper, softly sand down the base of the seat. The base of any chair is often the first place to show wear and tear.
  • With your wire brush, make scratch marks along the back of the chair, and along the kick panel on the front of the chair.




Distressing Painted Furniture

Do you love painted furniture, but hate the unused look of newly painted pieces? Well, don’t worry, just distress! Here is a great way to use a painted faux finish to create a distressed look on your new wood pieces. This is particularly great for those country armoires and rocking chairs.

What You Will Need:


  • quality paintbrush (two to three inches wide)
  • small can of flat paint in your chosen color
  • small can of wood glaze in a contrasting color
  • can of paste wax
  • wood varnish
  • rag
  • sandpaper
  • goggles


Doing the Project:


  • Using your paintbrush, apply a coat of your flat paint to your wooden furniture. This coat of paint will show through in the areas you distress, so choose a color that pleases the eye. Be sure to apply the paint in the direction of the wood grain.
  • Allow the coat of pain to dry for 24 hours.
  • Using your rag, rub a coat of paste wax over the painted surface of your piece of furniture. Apply a thin, even coat. If you aren’t going to distress the entire piece, just apply wax to the areas you are interested in distressing.
  • Allow the wax to dry for one hour. Do not buff or polish.
  • Using your paintbrush, apply a coat of your wood glaze directly overtop of the paste wax. This is going to be the main color of your furniture, so choose one that goes with your décor. Again, apply the glaze in the direction of the wood’s grain.
  • Let dry overnight, but not longer than 24 hours before you begin sanding.
  • With your sandpaper, lightly distress areas of the furniture that you think need aging. Sand in the direction of the wood. This will remove the top glaze but leave the flat paint shining through.
  • Sand wherever you want, paying particular attention to areas that would experience natural wear.
  • Apply a coat of protective sealant to the entire piece.