Do you ever look at a piece of furniture after having spent hours on prepping and then painting, break out in a cold sweat because it’s time to distress it? Scared you’re going to ruin your piece furniture? Well, let me let you in on a little secret…When I first started giving furniture a new lease on life, I really had NO idea what I was doing! I have learnt pretty well much all I know today, from trial and error. Getting the feel for different paints, paint brushes and techniques along the way. Learning what different types of sand paper do but one of the many questions I do get from my customers and readers is what is the best way to distress furniture!
The Best Way to Distress Furniture
When distressing furniture I honestly believe that it all starts from the very beginning of the makeover!
Step 1: Preparation
Before you even grab hold of your paintbrush and favourite paint colour, preparation is the key! Make sure the surface that you are wanting to paint is clean and free of dirt, cobwebs and has a nice smooth surface. If you don’t have a smooth surface hit it with your sander until it becomes smooth. Also, sanding opens up the wood to leave microscopic holes for your paint to grip onto.
You ask why? I find that if you don’t have all of these ducks in a row, the dirt contaminates your paint and cannot be used for further projects. Wasted paint equals wasted money which then leads to frustration! It can also leave lumps and bumps in your painting and lead to a very disappointing result when it comes to the final step of distressing.
Step 2: Drying Time
Always allow each coat of paint to dry in between coat! I promise you that not allowing the paint to dry in between coats will cause what I like to call “craters”. This is where the paint hasn’t dried properly and when you go to pop on your next coat of paint it takes the wet paint with it. This then creates a hole usually back the wood. A big hot mess!
Whilst these can be fixed by only painting in the “crater” area until you are back to the same level as the other paint it is very time-consuming and frustrating!
Step 3: Distressing
Depending on what sort of paint I am using, I usually paint two coats. I am a HUGE fan of chalk and milk paint. I find that they both give nice coverage and distresses very well.
Now for the fun part where your furniture comes to life. I always use 120 grit sandpaper when it comes to distressing. My rule of thumb is to think about where the wear and tear of a piece of furniture would happen in day to day life.
For example, if I’m distressing a chair, I would distress on the seat of the chair, around the edges and across the back. Then on the legs, I would distress the front some on the side and back of each leg.
Like with most things in life, practice makes perfect. Don’t try and tackle a huge sideboard for your first project, start off small like a picture frame or a small side table until you feel comfortable with your paintbrush, your paint and sander. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.
Be sure to PIN for later 🙂
Other examples of distressing furniture
Lots of great tips here Sam! I know when I first started working with chalk paint I had no idea what I was doing. I have to agree that sanding does make a difference even though it says we don’t have to. I was able to achieve the smoothest finish ever with chalk paint. Thanks for all the helpful tips, a girl can always stand to learn more.
You’re most welcome Mary! The best way I think is to find your own groove! 🙂
I’m doing my first milk paint project today and your blog is so helpful!!