Distressed furniture, with paint wearing off and chipping away, can add presence and style to any room. Luckily, it’s possible to create distressed furniture without having to wait years for your chest of drawers or table to age naturally.
There are several ways to distress furniture, ranging from using vinegar to rub off paint to pre-coating parts of the furniture with Vaseline before you begin. Read on to learn the three easiest ways to distress your wooden furniture.
THE VASELINE METHOD
It might seem like a strange home decorating tool, but Vaseline is ideal for creating stylish distressed furniture. For this method, you’ll need a paint brush, your desired colour of paint, a cloth and a container of Vaseline.
Start by cleaning your furniture so that there’s no dust or dirt to affect the paint. It’s best to brush the furniture first before wiping it with a very lightly dampened cloth to remove any dirt and dust that could be stuck to the wood.
Once you’ve cleaned the furniture, make sure it’s dry before applying Vaseline to the areas you’d like to distress. Use a small amount of Vaseline in each area, as any areas with Vaseline smeared on top will prevent your paint from setting in.
A good way to apply the Vaseline lightly is to apply a small amount to a towel, then rub the towel over the edges of the furniture. Apply as little or as much as you like for a light or heavy distressed look.
Now it’s time to start painting. The Vaseline will prevent the paint from applying to the wooden surface. Paint over the entire item – you’ll notice that the paint doesn’t stick to the areas that are covered in Vaseline.
Once you’ve finished painting, leave the paint to dry. Don’t let it dry completely – it needs to be slightly wet for you to create the distressed effect. Let the paint dry until it’s only slightly damp and can rub off with a little bit of pressure.
Use your cloth to rub off the paint in the areas with Vaseline. You might need to use a small amount of water to dampen the cloth and remove as much paint as possible from the furniture. Rub lightly to avoid smearing the paint.
The paint should come off the areas that Vaseline has been applied to easily. Once you’ve removed enough paint to create your desired distressed effect, let the paint dry before arranging the furniture in your home.
To preserve the distressed look and prevent further paint from wearing away, you can apply wax to the furniture once you’ve finished letting the paint dry. Wax is a good option for items that could easily get scratched and scuffed from heavy use.
THE VINEGAR METHOD
Another easy way to distress furniture is with vinegar. This method requires you to paint the furniture first, then apply a mixture of vinegar and water to rub away the excess paint and create a stylish distressed look.
For this method, you’ll need paint, a paintbrush, vinegar, a cloth and water. Start by painting the furniture, using a second coat of paint if required. Let the paint dry and mix one part vinegar with one part water in a bottle.
Once the paint has dried, spray the mix of vinegar and water onto the areas you’d like to distress. Take your cloth and start rubbing the furniture firmly to strip the paint away.
Rub the furniture firmly but not aggressively, as you could easily end up removing too much paint. Once you’ve stripped away the right amount of paint, spray water onto a second cloth and wipe away the excess vinegar/water mix.
The big advantage of this method is that you’ll catch the excess paint the cloth and avoid spreading paint throughout the room. This makes it easier to clean up after you’re finished, as well as significantly safer.
Just like with the Vaseline method, you can apply wax after you’re finished to stop further paint from wearing away. Make sure you clean away all of the extra vinegar before you apply any wax to the furniture.
THE SANDPAPER METHOD
I've made the executive decision to go second hand furniture shopping for glorious things I can sand down and distress!
— LuminousBeige (@LuminousBeige) November 15, 2014
The third method of distressing furniture involves using sandpaper to scratch away excess paint. This is the easiest way to distress furniture, but the results don’t look as natural as the vinegar or Vaseline methods.
The sandpaper distressing method is simple. Start by identifying the areas you’d like to distress. It’s best to choose areas that would wear away naturally over time, such as the edges of a table or cabinet.
Once you’ve chosen which areas to distress, use fine grit sandpaper to strip the paint away. If you have several different types of sandpaper, begin by using a fine grit and only use a heavier sandpaper if the paint isn’t stripping away quickly enough.
Once you’ve finished sanding each area, wipe away the excess paint with a cloth and start sanding the next spot. Once you’ve finished, you can apply a coat of wax to the furniture to prevent further paint from wearing away over time.
WHICH METHOD IS BEST?
Each of the three distressing methods above are great for creating stylish, unique distressed furniture. While the Vaseline and vinegar methods usually lead to the best results, the sandpaper method is a quick, simple and convenient alternative.
If you’re distressing furniture for the first time, make sure you choose something with a relatively simple shape. A mirror or coffee table are good items to start on, since they only have a few edges and rarely have curved corners.
Whichever method you choose, make sure you thoroughly clean your workspace after you’ve finished. Then, place your distressed furniture in the desired location and give your living room, dining room or bedroom a unique, vintage look.
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