Do-It-Yourself Distressing

Create the distressed look on almost any wooden piece using this technique.

Distress Paint Finished Bench
The red and blue used on this bench reinforce the American spirit of this room.

Choose a bench that's the right size and style for your room, then select two paint colors, one for the top coat and another for the base, which will peek through from underneath.

What You Need:

  • Wooden bench
  • 2 or 3 paint colors
  • Primer
  • Sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Wax
  • Paintbrush
  • Drop cloth
  • Polyurethane


step one - roll wax over painted coat
Step 1

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.

step two - paint top coat
Step 2

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.

step three - sand with sand paper
Step 3

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.


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