How to Distress Furniture

Distressed furniture

charlie avatarAt 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 this past 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

  • Paintbrush
  • 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 paintbrush 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 then 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 of furniture. (Related Article: How to Decorate with Old Photographs)

How to distress furniture

how to distress furniture

how to distress furniture

how to distress furniture








Update for 2017

Even eight years later this distressed piece of furniture still looks great. At the time I had 1 & 2-year-old children and knew that our furniture would take a beating. By distressing the furniture, it has made it super easy to weather the abuse of my young kids! In the eight years of own this furniture, I haven't once had to touch up the paint. In fact, the kids' abuse has only added more “character” to the furniture. The only touch-ups I've had to do was repair the top left drawer. I had accidentally pulled it out drawer front plate and had to glue/nail it back together.

Overall, you won't be disappointed with distressing your furniture and especially if you have younger children. One of the biggest keys is that you need to make sure that the furniture you are distressing is sturdy and can withstand the usage. All the additional abuse will only add more and more character over the years. You won't be disappointed if you follow my tips and tricks to distressing your first piece of furniture.

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