crafts

How To Distress Wood For An Antique, Vintage Feel

If you’ve recently purchased or built a new piece of furniture but want it to look used and distressed, follow these simple steps to give new wood an antique, vintage feel.

What you’ll need:

  • Wooden furniture or wooden item you’d like to distress
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Paint in two different colors (one light, one dark) in satin of flat sheen
  • Paint supplies (brushes, rollers, etc.)
  • Hammer, chain, nails and/or meat tenderizer for physical distressing


Photo via Style Me Pretty

Step 1

Physically distress the wood. Since there are so many ways to distress the wood, experiment on scrap wood until you find what works for you. You can drop a hammer on a tabletop or smack it with a chain for more obvious marks. A hammer can also be used to flatten corners of a table to make it look even more used. You can fill a sock with nuts, bolts, and nails and hit the wood to create softer divots. A meat tenderizer also works great. Just hit the wood at different strengths to create random marks. You can even throw stones at it or cover it with gravel and place another piece of wood of equal size on top of the gravel and walk along it or “surf” it. When physically distressing a piece of furniture, always keep in mind which areas would normally be worn down by regular use and distress those areas more. For chairs, focus on the arms and edges. For a table, distress the entire tabletop, edges, and legs. For barstools, pay attention to the rungs and legs.

Photo via Pinterest

Step 2

Use a paintbrush to apply a coat of your flat, darker base color. You can experiment with different shades and thicknesses until you achieve the look you want.  While you should paint the entire piece of furniture, it doesn’t have to be even. Allow the paint to dry for about 24 hours.

Step 3

When applying your flat, light top coat, you can choose to either apply it as is or thin the paint out for a more washed look. To thin the paint, add a teaspoon of water at a time until the desired consistency is obtained. Experimenting on a piece of scrap wood is a good idea to get the exact look that you want. Use a foam brush to paint on your topcoat or wash. For a more antiqued look, wipe down areas of the furniture while the paint is still wet. Allow the paint to dry for about 24 hours.

Step 4

Lightly sand the entire piece of furniture with fine-grit sandpaper, letting the darker base color show through where it would normally receive the most wear. For further distressing, sand the edges, arms, and legs.

Written by Kelly Mahan, also writer for homeyou.com, a company that helps homeowners connect with reliable contractors for their home improvement projects. Check more on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram: @teamhomeyou