How To Distress Furniture the Easy Way

While we’re all in some state of distress at this point in the Coronavirus Pandemic, it might do us good to remember that a little “distressing” is actually very much in style – at least as far as clothing and furniture are concerned. Unless you are looking to add the refined flair of Louis XVI style armchairs to your living room, distressed furniture is the perfect project to upgrade your home while engaging in some DIY therapy. Here’s how to do it:

Gather Your Materials

Distressing furniture is one of the easiest ways to spice up a room without spending a lot of money on brand-new pieces. When gathering your materials for this project, be sure to include the following items:

  • Furniture to be distressed (can be a chair, mirror frame, table, etc.)
  • Satin-finish latex paint for the desired base color
  • Another satin-finish latex paint for the outer coat
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint Roller and Tray
  • Candle
  • Steel wool (preferably medium-grade)

Prep the Surface

After gathering your materials, simply sand the piece of furniture you would like to distress. Unless it was previously painted or varnished, it won’t need anything really rough – just a light sanding will do. Once all the surfaces have been sanded, wipe everything down with a clean cloth.

Paint, Sand, and Then Paint Again

Using the latex paint you’ve selected for the base color, paint the entire piece of furniture, being careful to get in any edges or cracks. Once the paint is dry, use a light sandpaper to remove the paint from areas that would naturally end up distressed. Focus on areas of the piece where you’d naturally hold or brush against it. You may also nick corners or edges that jut out for an extra effect.

Wipe down the piece of furniture with a clean cloth, and then apply a finish coat, such as polyurethane, if desired.

Play With Colors

For a fun twist, do your base coat a different color from your final coat. Rather than sanding the first coat down to the natural wood, simply use the candle to rub wax on the areas you want to look “distressed.” Paint the second color over the entire piece, and then rub steel wool over anything you’ve waxed. Wipe everything down one more time, and you should be good to go!


Distressing furniture, decor items, mirror frames and more is easier than you think. It’s the perfect way to spice up your space and use a little elbow grease to work out some of that pandemic stress.

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