Create the distressed look on almost any wooden piece using this technique.
1. Select a piece of painted or unfinished wood furniture. If it's unfinished, sand and prime, then paint the base color. If it's painted, wipe with a tack cloth and paint the base color. Or, prime again and paint the base color. Let dry. Rub wax over the base coat, going with the grain. For an authentic look, concentrate on edges and areas of natural wear.
2. Paint the top coat, and let dry. If the piece will be used outdoors, choose exterior latex paint to avoid fading. Interior latex is fine if the piece will be used in a protected area.
3. Place the piece on a drop cloth. Sand with medium-grade sandpaper until you achieve the distressed effect. If you wish, repeat waxing, painting, and sanding for a third color. Wipe bench with tack cloth, and seal with two coats of polyurethane.