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How to Distress Furniture

2010 July 13

At we aren’t always about being thrifty, but we are also about being resourceful. Here is a story of how my wife and I distressed a kitchen cart.

Over the fourth of July weekend my wife and I the opportunity of making a distressed kitchen cart. We found this cheap black kitchen cart at Gordmans, with a 20% off coupon, and decided to embark on our first distressing adventure. Here are the supplies we used, steps we took, and a few pictures along the way. 

Needed Supplies:

  • Paint brush
  • Small paint roller
  • Sandpaper (180-220)
  • Steel wool (optional)
  • Knife
  • Flat paint (two colors)
  • Paste Wax

Steps for distressing your furniture:

  • Sand your piece of furniture so it will take first coat of paint (I used 180 grade sandpaper for this)
  • Wipe dust off (from sanding) and prep to apply first coat of paint (I recommend using flat white paint)
  • Apply one or two coats of white paint (I used two because I was working with a black piece of furniture to start). This can be applied either with a paint brush or roller
  • Apply two coats of final paint color (using a roller on the final coat will help get a clear uniform application).
  • Now time to have fun!! Get out the sandpaper and start sanding the edges and raised areas to give it a worn look. Go crazy. Typically the “uh ohs” that happen are the best accents to your piece.
  • Use a knife to peel away paint  at the edges to add to the worn look. I like scrapping the paint away at an angle  to get as much black (original coat) and white (second coat) to show thru.
  • Let paint dry and the wipe off the furniture so no foreign matter is left on it
  • Finally apply the paste wax. Make sure you apply it lightly – kind of like you are waxing a car. Apply it to the wood in a circular pattern.
  • Wait 15 minutes and buff it off with a dry cloth

Here is a great how to distress furniture video too. BeachBum offers some great tips that will definitely help.

Here are a few pictures of the kitchen cart. Hope you can have some fun with this project and save yourself some money by “repurposing” a piece a furniture. (Related Article: How to Decorate with Old Photographs)













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An IT professional, Charlie also buys and sells liens, lives on the cheap, runs marathons and helps to run his family farm. In his spare moments, he raises 3 children, does the dishes and writes one post a week. His former blog, Frugal Retirement Plan, has been cited by US News and World Report.

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