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More Tips on Distressing Furniture

The process for distressing furniture that you don't want to stain is similar to how you would do it if you were staining.

  • Start out with less costly pieces.
  • Sand the piece.
  • Select a smooth piece, but you'll always need to sand it with fine sandpaper. This will give you an even finish.
  • Fill all nicks or holes with wood fill.
  • Let the wood fill dry completely.
  • Sand again to remove residue. You don't want a blotchy or uneven look.
  • Sand in the direction of the grain.
  • Sand oak pieces to a medium smoothness using medium-coarse 120-grit sandpaper.
  • Sand other types of wood with medium sandpaper, no finer than 150 grit.
  • Wipe down each piece using painter's tack cloth.
  • After sanding, use a brush and apply a coat of primer.
  • Apply coat in direction of the grain.
  • when primer is dry, sand lightly.
  • Wipe down again with a clean cloth.
  • Now apply your final coat of paint.
  • To further make the piece look old, sand the edges until slightly rounded so there are no sharp corners.
  • Sanding will create the look of natural wear and tear.
  • To simulate wormholes and insect damage, use an ice pick.
  • Create tiny holes in the surface of the wood.
  • Create flyspecks with an old toothbrush dipped into black ink.
  • Protect the area, then use a toothpick to splatter the paint for a speckled look.
  • Rub the toothpick over the bristles of the brush and point in the right direction.

Crackling is another way to antique your furniture.

  • Choose a stain or paint the surface.
  • Apply the crackle finish over the painted surface.
  • Apply a thin layer for small cracks.
  • A thick layer will give you larger cracks.
  • Apply an acrylic topcoat when dry.
  • Let dry and the crackle will appear almost immediately.
  • When finished, apply another coat of clear satin acrylic sealer.

Now your new dents and "flaws" will add a beautiful element of character to your room.

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Barbara Jennings is author of 10 decorating books: Decor Secrets Revealed, Rearrange It, Home Staging for Profit, Home Staging for Yourself, Arrange Your Stuff, Advanced Redesign, Pro Art Consulting, Where There's a Wall - There's a Way, The Art of Hanging Art, Great Parties! Great Homes!

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