Best 6 Hacks in Distressing Your Furniture

Distressing your furniture is a pretty simple process to make an item of newer furniture look like an antique piece. You actually add wear and tear to custom furniture in St. Louis to achieve this look. You can distress several different types of materials, such as wood, laminate, or metal. It mainly just requires some tools that you most probably have around your house to make a new piece that looks like a family heirloom.

1. Distressing Wood and Laminate Furniture

You can add dings and dents to make your furniture look older. You should wear safety glasses for eye protection so that if some small pieces of wood break off, you are covered. Simply use a hammer or a chisel and tap it lightly onto the furniture to make it look like it’s been around for many years.

A good area to do this is on the legs of any piece because this is the area that usually has marks on it from moving it around, or other items hitting on it. Make all of your marks very random, so it doesn’t look like they are in any type of pattern. You can also experiment with any other tools you may have at your house as well.

Best 6 Hacks in Distressing Your Furniture

2. The Sanding Process

If your furniture item has any type of finish on it, you should sand it off entirely. Use sandpaper with 120-grit to sand the entire piece and to roughen up the surfaces on the furniture. This process will help your new paint to stick better to the surface and prevent it from peeling or chipping off.

Sand all the areas you will paint, including the insides of the legs. If your piece of furniture that you are distressing is “in the raw,” meaning it has unfinished wood or laminate, you don’t need to sand it.

3. Using The Tack Cloth

Run some water over a tack cloth or any other soft cotton rag, and then wring it out, so it is barely damp, but not very wet. Wipe all of the surfaces that you will paint to remove any sanding dust or dirt that happens to be on them.

Then use a dry cloth to go back over all of the areas to remove any moisture on the piece. It’s best to wait about a half hour or so for any moisture to evaporate from your furniture so the paint will adhere to it properly.

4. Painting Your Distressed Furniture

You will need to get a can of chalky paint from a paint store. It has a matte finish, so it’s not shiny, and it makes it easier to scrape off when you are distressing furniture. Choose a color that matches your decor and color palette in the room where it will be used.

It’s important to note that chalkboard paint is an entirely different product that is meant to be written on with chalk. Dip the ends of your bristles in the chalky paint, so there is very little on the brush tips. Start painting from the top of your piece and work your way down. Apply a very thin layer of paint on the surfaces so they can dry quickly and evenly. Allow your distressed furniture to dry overnight.

Paint a second coat on your furniture and then let it cure for 3 days. You can actually choose two different colors of chalky paint for your piece to give it more texture and interest. The first coat of paint will show through when you distress it and remove some of the second coat of paint. Two shades of the same color work well or a color with white as the second coat of paint.

5. Resanding Your Distressed Furniture

Lightly sand the edges of your piece with sandpaper, especially on the corners and edges. These are the parts that usually wear over time. You will rub off some of the second layer of paint to reveal the first layer of paint and some of the wood or laminate under it.

Wipe the dry paint dust off with a damp rag so you can see the areas that you distressed, and if you rub too much paint off and don’t like your results, you can always start over.

custom furniture in St Louis Mo

6. Sealing Your Distressed Furniture

Seal your piece with finishing wax to help protect your distressed furniture from any damage. You simply dip a piece of cheesecloth into the wax and wipe it on your piece, while working it in a circular motion until it’s smooth. You should wait about a week for the sealant to completely cure before using your distressed furniture.


Distressing your furniture is actually a quite simple task, although you may have questions about the process if you are new to it. Our interior designer in St. Louis can help you with your interior design and custom furniture needs.

At The Great Cover-Up, we offer full-service interior design in St. Louis, MO, and a home furnishing store with exceptional designs for your lifestyle.

Contact The Great Cover-Up today to schedule a consultation to discuss all of your custom furniture needs and to get more great ideas on distressing your own furniture. We are here to help!