How to Distress Wood Furniture!


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How to Distress Wood Furniture: 5 Simple Ways


distress-wood-furniture-pinThe vintage aesthetic is a trend that has blown up in recent years. Many homeowners are ditching the luxurious modern aesthetic for a warm vintage look when choosing the furniture for their home. While one might imagine vintage furniture to have a cheaper price tag than their modern counterparts—the opposite seems to prove true. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to buy these expensive, factory-made vintage furniture pieces. However, what if we told you that you can create that sought-after vintage look with your existing furniture?

Below we’ve summarized some of the easiest methods to distress wood furniture at home:

Method 1:

How to distress stained wood with paints

You'll be needing:


  1. Gather Materials- If you’re doing it for the first time, it’s wiser to choose a small piece of wooden furniture from a nearby flea market. Make sure the piece you’re buying has a stained finish. This is to ensure the coating of furniture paint can be easily wiped off.
  2. Sandpaper finish- Next, rub the sandpaper over the furniture in a circular manner from inward to outward motion or rub the edges hard enough to make the lines in the wood visible. These are the pores of the wood opening up which will absorb the paint better and will make the piece of furniture durable and long-lasting.
  3. Apply the base coat- While you can use any light colors, we recommend using ivory white and baby blue. Apply a base coat which is not too thick or not too thin in consistency and spreads evenly throughout the surface in every pore and fissure. Let the paint dry for 20-24 hours.
  4. Apply the final coat- Choose the second paint and apply multiple coats of it. Apply the paint using a foam sponge or paint brush and change the direction of the stroke often to achieve a “weary” look!
    Tip: Some prefer adding a minimal amount of water to the 2nd paint to make a paste of a medium consistency. This makes the paint a little less bold and easy to apply.
  5. Create the distressed wood look- When you’re done applying the paint, smudge or rub off the semi-wet paint of some areas to make your furniture look like a classic.
  6. Optional sanding- For further improvisation, rub the piece of furniture with a sand paper as soon as it dries.
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Method 2:

How to distress painted wood with sandpaper

You'll be needing:


  1. Sand the grooves- If you’re planning on distressing or “weathering” your existing furniture, then all you need is a few sheets of sandpaper. It’s easier to achieve the required results on a flat piece of furniture. Apply optimum pressure when rubbing the sandpaper over the edges of the surface until the underside of the “grooves” appear on your furniture.
  2. Wipe away additional sawdust- When the desired ware of the grooves and finish has been attained, just wipe the furniture with a dry cloth.

Method 3:

How to distress painted wood using a hammer or a chisel:

You'll be needing:



  1. Chisel out wood- Start with a corner of the furniture you want to distress and place the flat end of the chisel on it. Gently stroke the end of the chisel with a hammer to remove chunks of wood and get a light aesthetic look. Place the handle of the chisel close to the wood to avoid digging directly into the wood.
  2. Apply force- For a heavier “wear and tear” outlook, stroke the chisel using the hammer at a greater pressure.
  3. Sanding- Sand over the areas you chiseled to smooth over rough edges.

Method 4:

Distressing wood using tea, vinegar and steel wool!

You'll be needing:



  1. Prepare steep tea- Add the tea to boiling water for about an hour and pour the black tea solution in one container.
  2. Prepare iron acetate– Untangle the steel scrubber or add the steel nails to the other container containing vinegar and leave it for 10-12 hours. Do not cover the container with a lid and keep it in an open or ventilated area. This is because hydrogen gas is released when vinegar reacts with steel to form iron acetate solution.
  3. Apply formula- Once both the solutions are prepared, spread the tea solution on the wood using the paint brush and let it dry. Paint some areas darker than the rest and change the direction of the brush frequently.
  4. Once dried, spread the iron acetate solution onto the tea-stained wood.
  5. The wood or furniture acquires a more bold tone with a classic aesthetic. This is due to the way the iron acetate reacts with tannin present in tea to give your furniture a darker shade.
  6. Sanding- For a more aged look, rub the piece of furniture with a sand paper at different pressures after the furniture is completely dry.

Method 5:

Distressing wood with everyday household items!

You'll be needing:

  • Hammers
  • Steel nails
  • Wire brushes
  • Heels
  • Paint (optional)

Obtaining a minimal vintage aesthetic doesn’t get easier than this. The raw materials mentioned above are the one available in every household and allow you to create a weary furniture look in no time:

  1. Stroking the piece of furniture gently with a hammer at different angles creates concave depressions or grooves.
  2. Add a number of nails of different shapes and sizes in a piece of cloth or bag and hit the piece of wood hard with it. This is going to leave multiple patterns and shallow grooves which can later be enhanced by using paint.
  3. Wire brushes allows you to create a farmhouse furniture sort of pattern. All you need to do is rub or insert he wire brush into a drilling machine and let it run over the wooden surface. The wire brush removes the loose chunks of wood leaving a more rough and aged furniture behind.
  4. If you have a pair of old high heels then don’t throw them away just like that. Just pick up your heel and hit the furniture with the pointy end multiple times until small indents and marks are left behind.


Distressing wood furniture is an art which allows you to give a vintage vibe to your home without spending a lot of time or money. We hope this guide teaching you how to distress wood furniture at home was useful and you’re able to implement some of these DIY methods into your living space!

More: If you have mold on your wood furniture or wood trim, check out our latest article How to Remove Mold from Wood!

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