Monday, September 20, 2021

How To Distress Furniture and Other Projects

A guide on distressing techniques to use on furniture & other projects | On The Creek Blog //

How to distress painted furniture.

After all the projects I've done, I can't believe I've never written a post on how to distress furniture!  I have mentioned my techniques a lot but I have never made a post dedicated just to distressing furniture.

That's what I'm going to be doing today!

Distressing furniture is an easy process to make furniture look old & worn.  

Why do I need to distress furniture?

I usually end up with the worst of the worst furniture where preserving old paint is impossible.  Most of the pieces I deal with are either not painted at all or the paint is usually mostly gone.  While distressing furniture takes off the paint, I still like to have some paint on the pieces.

Also, I like to make furniture pieces appear old.  It's a lot cheaper for me to buy junk pieces & transform them myself than to buy authentic old furniture.  I also get nervous around old furniture/investment pieces.  I'm afraid it will scuff or break & I'll lose out on my investment.

So, how do I distress furniture?

There are 2 ways I distress furniture:  crackle glaze & sanding.

No matter which technique I'm going to use, I start off in the same way:  I clean & repair the furniture if necessary.  Then, depending on the finish, I either leave it alone or paint a bottom coat.  

The point of distressing is to see the paint/stain underneath so I always want it to look its best.  If the furniture piece has an even stain or paint underneath, I leave it alone.  If I don't like the base coat, I'll usually paint it an even coat.

Once the bottom coat is prepped, it's time for the top coat.  This is where the 2 distressing techniques go in different directions.

A guide on distressing techniques to use on furniture & other projects | On The Creek Blog //

Crackle glaze

I go in depth on applying crackle glaze in my solar chandelier post & another crackle technique in my crackle letter post

Basically, crackle glaze (or glue) is a medium applied in between the bottom & top coats.  You generally let it get a little tacky & paint your top coat over it.  The paint reacts with the crackle glaze & creates a chippy looking finish.  The crackle glaze does all the work of distressing.

A guide on distressing techniques to use on furniture & other projects | On The Creek Blog //

I've only done crackle glaze (& glue) on a few projects but I really like the results.  Overall, the finish looks authentically chippy & old.  It gets a little uneven with larger pieces so I try to stick to smaller pieces to use this on.  

A downside of crackle glaze (& glue) is that it's for interior use only.  I did use crackle glaze on a chair that is outside & some of the paint came off.

A guide on distressing techniques to use on furniture & other projects | On The Creek Blog //


Sanding is a pretty easy way to distress furniture.

You just paint the top coat & use sandpaper to take off the paint to reveal the bottom coat.

Because I'm impatient, I usually just paint the top coat, wait a very short time & then use a sanding sponge to distress.  The paint comes off a lot easier when it's not totally dry.  If it is completely dry, I may have to use an electric sander.

A guide on distressing techniques to use on furniture & other projects | On The Creek Blog //

I've sanded a lot of projects & the results are usually nice.  If I distress too much, I can always paint back over areas.  Sanding gives you more control over the look of the entire piece & that's why I like using it on larger projects.  

A downside of sanding is that it gives a flat finish which doesn't look authentically chippy.


Both sanding & crackle glazing have upsides & downsides.  I really depends on what type of project you'll be using it on & what you want your finish to look like.

Here are some posts I've written using the 2 techniques:

Distressed furniture posts
- Church Pew Makeover
- DIY Bathroom Shutters
- Wash Stand Makeover
- Chippy Yellow Chair
- Chippy & Rustic Candle Holder
- Chippy Picture Frame DIY
- Shelf Makeover

Crackle glaze posts
- Creating a Crackled & Distressed Finish Using Glue
- Farmhouse End Table Makeover
- Pergola Solar Chandelier
- Painting our Upcycled DIY Dining Bench

1 comment:

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