How to Paint and Distress Furniture

Furniture is an essential element of any living space. However, finding pieces that match our specific style and taste can be expensive and difficult. Fortunately, painting and distressing furniture has become a popular trend that can give your old furniture a new lease of life.

How to Paint and Distress Furniture

Painting and distressing furniture are not as challenging as you might think, and it is an enjoyable DIY project that can be done at home. Here’s a beginner’s guide on how to paint and distress furniture. So keep reading to learn more!

Can You Paint and Distress Furniture?

Furniture can really make a house feel like a home. And while finding the perfect piece of furniture can be a challenge, sometimes it’s worth DIYing something special if you’re up for a project and wondering if you can paint and distress furniture yourself; the answer is yes!

With the right tools and techniques, you can transform an old or outdated piece of furniture into a beautiful and unique addition to your home decor. So grab some sandpaper and some paint, and get ready to get creative!

Why Should You Paint and Distress Furniture?

Painting and distressing furniture has become popular, beautifying your living space and enhancing the ambiance. The process of painting and distressing furniture is therapeutic in itself, as it allows you to create a unique piece that matches your personal style while also being budget-friendly. Painting and distressing furniture can add a rustic look to modern decor or bring an eclectic dimension to traditional interiors.

Add a Rustic Look to Modern Decor

Additionally, repurposing old furniture by painting and distressing it reduces waste and adds a touch of sustainability to your living space. So, why not give your old furniture a new lease on life by painting and distressing it? It’s an ideal DIY project that allows you to use your creativity and specific preferences to transform an old piece of furniture into something new and beautiful.

What Materials Are Needed for Painting and Distressing Furniture?

Painting and distressing furniture has become increasingly popular in recent years. Using the right materials is key if you’re looking to update a piece of furniture. Firstly, you’ll need some sandpaper to create a roughened, aged effect. You can use a higher grit for less distressing or a lower grit for a more rustic feel. Once you’ve sanded the piece to your desired effect, a primer is needed to promote paint adhesion.

High-quality acrylic paint is recommended for the base coat, followed by a water-based glaze or tinted wax. These products can lend depth and texture to your project. Finally, finish with a clear coat of polyurethane or wax to protect your newly transformed furniture. With the right materials, anyone can breathe new life into an old piece of furniture.

Use a Higher Grit for Less Distressing

How to Paint and Distress Furniture – A Complete Guide

Step 1. Choose the Right Furniture

Before painting and distressing your furniture, make sure you choose the right piece for the job. A good specimen should be solid and structurally sound, with a finish that will take well to sanding and painting. Avoid furniture that has complex details or veneers, as they may not hold up well against a distressing process. The furniture piece should also be clean and free from any dirt, debris, or residue so that it can be prepped, sanded, and painted without any problems.

Step 2. Prepare the Surface

The surface of the furniture must be ready before the painting starts. This process involves removing the hardware and cleaning the surface with soap, water, and trisodium phosphate (TSP) cleaner. When dry, sand the surface lightly with a fine-grit sandpaper. This step helps create a profile that allows for better primer and paint adhesion. Use a clean cloth to wipe down the surface and remove any remaining debris.

Step 3. Prime the Furniture

Priming is an essential step when painting furniture. Primer creates a base layer that stops the old color from showing through, provides a smooth surface for the new paint to adhere to, and protects the furniture from moisture damage. Apply the primer using a brush or roller on the surface of the furniture, then let it dry entirely before painting. Use a light coat of primer and let it dry overnight.

Use a Light Coat of Primer

Step 4. Paint the Furniture

Once the primer has dried, it’s time to paint. Choose a color that works well with the space and decor. Before applying the paint, use a fresh brush or roller and make sure not to overload the paint. Apply a thin coat of paint, then wait a few hours for it to dry before applying another coat. Apply at least two to three coats of paint, leaving each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next one.

Step 5. Distress the Furniture

Once the paint is completely dry, it’s time to give your furniture a distressed look. Use sandpaper, steel wool, or sanding blocks to rub the furniture’s edges, corners, and raised areas.

Distress the surface gently and in a circular motion to create a natural and aged distressed effect. Don’t leave the distressing process half; create a pattern that looks consistent with the overall design. Wipe down the furniture with a dry cloth once it has a well-worn appearance.

Use a Sandpaper

Step 6. Seal the Furniture

After distressing, it is important to seal your furniture with a sealant or topcoat. This helps protect the paint and distressed areas from dirt and grime while maintaining the look of your furniture. Apply a thin coat of sealant with a brush or roller, then let it dry for at least a few hours before applying the next coat.

Step 7. Add Hardware

The last step in painting and distressing furniture is to add new hardware. Installing new knobs or handles gives your piece of furniture an updated look while protecting any distressed areas from regular wear and tear. Use the appropriate screws and hardware for the job, and make sure they are secure before you finish.

That’s it! You’ve now learned how to paint and distress furniture. Follow these seven steps to give your piece of furniture a new look that will last for years to come!  Good luck!

5 Considerations Things When You Need to Buy Paint and Distress Furniture

1. Decide on the Type of Paint

The first thing you need to do when you’re ready to buy paint is to decide on the type of paint you want. There are two main types of paint: oil-based and water-based. Oil-based paint is typically more durable and longer lasting, but it can be more difficult to work with. Water-based paint is easier to use but may not last as long.

Oil-based Paint

2. Consider the Sheen

Once you’ve decided on the type of paint, you need to consider the sheen. The sheen is the paint’s glossiness level, and it ranges from flat to high gloss. Flat paint has no shine, while high gloss paint is very shiny. If you’re painting furniture, you’ll probably want to choose a semi-gloss or high-gloss paint so that it’s easy to clean.

3. Choose the Color

The next thing you need to do is choose the color of paint you want. You can either choose a color that matches the existing color scheme in your home or go for something completely different. If you’re painting furniture, you may want to choose a bolder color so that it stands out.

4. Determine How Much Paint You Need

Once you’ve chosen the color, you need to determine how much paint you’ll need. To do this, you’ll need to know the dimensions of the area you’re painting as well as the coverage of the paint. Most paints have a coverage of around 400 square feet, so if you’re painting a small piece of furniture, you won’t need much paint.

Painting a Small Piece of Furniture

5. Pick Up Some Supplies

In addition to buying the actual paint, you’ll also need some supplies like painter’s tape, drop cloths, and brushes or rollers. Painter’s tape will help you create clean lines when painting and drop cloths will protect your floors from drips and splatters. Brushes or rollers will make it easier to apply the paint evenly.

5 Benefits of Paint and Distress Furniture

1. It’s Inexpensive

One of the best things about painting and distressing furniture is that it’s inexpensive to give your furniture a new look. If you’re unhappy with how your furniture looks, you can simply paint it and distress it to give it a new lease on life. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to buy new furniture when you can simply repaint the furniture you already have.

2. It’s Easy

Another great thing about painting and distressing furniture is that it’s easy to do. You don’t need any special skills or training to paint and distress furniture. All you need is a little bit of time and patience, and you’ll be able to transform your furniture into something that looks brand new.

3. You Can Be Creative

You can let your creative side out when you paint and distress furniture. There are no rules when it comes to painting and distressing furniture, so you can let your imagination run wild. You can experiment with different colors, techniques, and finishes until you find something that you love.

4. It’s Fun

Painting and distressing furniture is a fun project you can do alone or with friends. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon, and you’ll be proud of the results when you’re finished.

5. It Makes a Great Gift

If you’re looking for a unique gift for someone, consider painting and distressing a piece of their furniture. This thoughtful gift shows that you care about them and their home.

4 Common Mistakes People Make When Trying to Paint and Distress Furniture

1. Not Preparing the Surface

One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to paint and distress furniture is not preparing the surface properly. If you don’t sand the piece of furniture down or use a primer, the paint will not adhere well, and the final product will not look as good as it could.

Use a Primer

2. Not Using the Right Paint

Another mistake people make is not using the right type of paint. You want to use latex paint for painting furniture because it is easy to work with and clean up. Oil-based paints are more difficult to work with and can turn yellow over time.

3. Not Distressing the Furniture Enough

A common mistake people make when distressing furniture is not doing it enough. You want to make sure you sand down the edges and corners so that the paint looks worn and aged. If you don’t distress the furniture enough, it will look new and unfinished.

4. Not Adding a Topcoat

One final mistake people make when painting and distressing furniture is not adding a topcoat. A topcoat will protect your furniture from scratches and stains and will also give it a nice sheen.

What Kind of Paint Should Be Used for the Best Results When Painting and Distressing Furniture?

Revamping old furniture with a fresh coat of paint is a cost-effective way of adding character and style to your home decor. However, if you’re looking to achieve a shabby chic or distressed look, not just any paint will do. To get the best results, it’s essential to use the right kind of paint that can withstand wear and tear and suit your desired finish.

Among the most popular painting and distressing furniture options are chalk paint, milk paint, and acrylic paint. Each one has its unique characteristics, and the choice depends on the type of furniture, the color you want to achieve, and the level of distressing you desire. So, before you dive into the project, take some time to research and find the perfect paint for your vision. The results will undoubtedly be worth it.


Painting and distressing furniture take time, patience, and proper preparation, but the results can be rewarding. The process does not require any special skills but can be an easy DIY project that you can do in the comfort of your home.

Remember always to choose the right piece of furniture to work on, prepare the surface, prime and apply the paint, and finally, distress the furniture to achieve your desired look. Have fun and experiment with your colors and styles until you find the perfect look for your home. Thanks for reading our post about how to paint and distress furniture.

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian is a woodworking hobbyist and has loved Woodworking since he was 10 years old. Back then in childhood, his father used to have a furniture shop. He used to help his dad and learned a lot from him about how to fix woodworking furniture, basic carpentry knowledge and also about how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others.

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