The Art of Distressing Furniture


Distressing furniture has become increasingly popular throughout the years. You can take any piece of furniture and completely change it to look like a completely different piece of furniture. It saves hundreds of dollars and actually leaves your furniture looking expensive. I chose to distress an old bar stool wasting away in my basement. This is just one way to distress and may be the best option for a beginner.

Here’s what you need:

  • Sand paper
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Hammer
  • Metal chain (optional)
  • Chisel (optional)

Here’s what to do:

  1. Start by sanding all of the wood on the piece of furniture. This will help the paint stay.


  1. Paint the wood. I used wall paint in my house and it worked great but semi-gloss or satin paint is recommended. Some people prefer to stain their furniture to reveal the wood grain. I recommend stain if you are starting with a clean slate of wood and not something that has already been painted.


  1. Next, begin dropping the metal chain on the wood to create dents to give it that aged look. Use the back of the hammer to chisel away at some of the wood. Hammer away to create dents. You want the piece of furniture to look used and not brand new. There is no right or wrong way to complete this step. It is a personal decision of what you are happy with and what goes with your home. Some even complete this step before painting.



  1. Last, sand the edges of the furniture. This is my favorite part of distressing. This is a great way to finish off distressing and really pull the look together.

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Distressing takes a lot of practice. Each time you distress you will learn something new. There is no right way to this process. Play around with it and have fun. If you’re not feeling confident, practice with scratch wood to get the hang of it and try different techniques.

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