Distressed Painting Techniques

If you like the rustic or shabby chic look, chances are that you also like the look of distressed painting.  That is a surface that is painted to purposely look old and somewhat weathered. I have done this type of painting many times and have used different techniques depending on the project. Since there are so many different ways to get the look, you should feel comfortable with trying at least one of the following distressed painting techniques.

How To Distress Wood With Paint

1.  Weathered Wood Crackle Medium

distressed painting techniques

sign craft

I used a combination of a weathered wood crackle medium and walnut stain over the paint for this sign craft.  You can find the crackle medium in the paint aisle at most craft stores.  It is applied between two layers of different colored paints and causes the top layer to partially peel away exposing the first layer of paint.  Since I used bright colors of paint for this project and wanted a more rustic look, I finished if off with a coat of walnut stain to dirty it up a bit.  Stains, glazes and even shoe polish work great for toning down paint color.

2.  Sanding & Light Painting

dresser makeover

My favorite technique to use, especially for furniture items, is sanding like I did in this dresser makeover.

dresser makeover

This particular dresser had several layers of paint on it to begin with.  So….I sanded it first to get down to some of the color under the white (just a touch).  You can see the detail in the thumbnail picture.  Then I painted very lightly over the entire dresser with the beige paint purposely missing spots to give it a worn off look.

I have also done a technique the reverse of this where I have painted an entire surface a solid color paint and then after the paint was dry gone over the surface with a fine sand paper to rub off some of the finish.  I like to focus on key areas, like edges, where paint would naturally rub off.

distressed painting techniques

With this chair, I also applied a paste wax, by Minwax, for a nice smooth finish.  This was done after all of the sanding.  Since it was going in my dining room, I wanted a little cleaner look and the wax polished it up nicely.

distressed painting techniques

3.  Distressing With Coffee Grounds

distressed painting techniques - use coffee grounds to distress

I have never tried this technique with coffee grounds myself but I find the idea very intriguing.  If you don’t like the idea of using a stain or glaze to dirty up or age your paint, then a more pleasant smelling and easily accessible material like coffee grounds could be just the ticket. Just rub the brewed coffee grounds over your painted surface to give it a warmer, aged tone.

Do you have a painting technique that you use for creating a distressed look?  Share your ideas below!

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Creating rustic styling on a budget by giving new life to old things and using the beauty that is already found in nature. Read more about me.
  1. Great paint techniques. If found your page from Google+ and was attracted to the photo of the chair. I have a lot of paining to do and enjoy seeing your techniques.

    1. That’s great Cynthia! I hope you find the techniques helpful and good luck with all of your painting!

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