Distressing wood is done to give your item a rustic antique look. There are many ways to go about distressing wood. I prefer to keep things as simple and easy as possible. In this article we are using color, but you can distress plain wood as well. You can choose any color of spray paint you want, but I recommend staying with more neutral natural colors. If the item of wood to be distressed is already painted then you can skip to step 3. I find this project to be very forgiving. It’s okay to make a mistake. There is no perfect way to do this so you can let your creativity shine.
What you will need:
Wood Object to be distressed
Choice of spray paint (1 can at the least depending on size of item)
1. Sand wood (Optional)
(Wearing safety goggles and latex gloves) Using fine gradient sandpaper, lightly sand the wood item. You’ll want to do this specifically if your wood item is covered with a glaze. The paint will stick better and not run as much. You can skip this part if you want. I’ve done plenty of items before without sanding first, but it does save a little bit of time in the end when it’s time to correct the paint drip spots.
2. Spray paint your wood item
(Wear latex gloves) In a well ventilated area (preferably outside) and following the directions on the can of spray paint. Begin to paint your wood item. You don’t have to worry about getting every nook and cranny covered in paint and the paint does not need to be evenly coated. You can go back later and smooth out areas by sanding them down. Depending upon how white you want to go you may want to apply a second coat. It is actually a good thing to see the wood through the paint. Once you are happy with the coating and color, let the paint dry fully.
3. Sand off paint
(Wearing safety goggles and latex gloves) Here comes the fun part, using coarse sandpaper start sanding off the paint in areas that would get the most wear. Apply just enough pressure to remove the paint. You can go back later if you would like to go deeper into the wood. Smooth out areas where paint dripped or collected. Sand edges so it looks as though the paint has been rubbed off. Follow the groves in the wood for a more natural look. You can also switch at any time to a finer gradient sandpaper. The creative part here is that you can use as much or as little pressure and remove as much or as little paint as you want. You will be done with this step when your item has reached the ratio of paint to wood that you would like to have showing.
4. Adding knicks (Optional)
This step depends on how worn you want your wood item to look. You can use a key to create tiny knicks or impressions in the wood in areas of your choice. Lightly press the key into the area where you want to create the knick and apply pressure as you slowly turn and scrape out the paint. You may want to try the technique in an area of wood that will be unseen to make sure you like the effect.
When you are done your finished piece will look worn and rustic. I love scavenging old wood pieces at our local Salvation Army and making them look completely different with this easy and fun technique. I recommend researching pictures of distressed work to get some inspiration before you start. You can’t go wrong and you can always go back and correct your work by repainting or sanding more. Be creative and sand away!