In this DIY tutorial, I show you how to distress painted furniture using wood stain and creme wax. These simple techniques show you how to revive old furniture for a rustic aged look.
In fact, I use this simple furniture distressing technique to upcycle and sell used furniture for profit.
There are several things which are difficult to fully explain with words and images, so be sure to check out the video tutorial below!
In this tutorial, learn how to distress painted furniture with stain or wax. These simple techniques show you how to revive old furniture to decorate your home or sell for a profit.
I built 2 identical console tables using scrap 2x4s and 2x6s for some friends.
In order to match the farmhouse and shabby chic decor in my friend's home, I painted and distressed the tables using wood stain and creme wax.
Drop a comment and let me know if you prefer stain or wax to distress painted furniture.
- Paint Furniture
First, paint the furniture with 2 coats of satin or semi-gloss white paint. If the furniture is already painted, make sure it is free of dust and dirt.
If the furniture has a clear coat or shiny finish, paint it with a coat of primer before applying paint.
Semi-gloss or satin/eggshell paint works best for distressing painted furniture.
The sheen makes it easier to wipe off wood stain or wax as I’ll show you in later step.
Keep in mind, flat or matte paint can be distressed. However, I find I work harder and don’t have as much control over the distressing process.
- Apply Stain or Wax to Paint
You should use contrasting colors for the best results. In other words, light stain or wax on dark paint and dark stain or wax on light paint.
For a vintage look, use gray wood stain to distrtess white painted furniture.
Brown creme wax produces a stronger distressed look.
First, apply wood stain to a section of the painted furniture with a brush, staining pad, or rag.
The section should be small enough to wipe on and wipe off within 10 minutes.
Also, chip brushes work well to apply stain to paint. They are inexpensive and produce a natural look.
These brushes work better than rags for this furniture distressing technique.
The creme wax is very thick and dries very quickly.
Therefore, a nitrile glove and your hand works best to spread the creme wax over the paint.
If you try to use a brush, it will dry very quickly.
- Wipe Excess
Use a rag to wipe the stain or wax from the paint until you achieve the distressed look.
The paint sheen allows you to control the distressed look.
However, the stain will absorb into the paint no matter how much you wipe.
The more you wipe the more stain will be removed.
The stain will saturate the corners, seams, and other hard to reach places.
Obviously, this makes the furniture look naturally distressed.
- Move to Next Section and Repeat
Move to the next section and repeat the process.
- Allow to Dry
Allow the stain or creme wax to dry for 12 to 24 hours.
- Seal Distressed Furniture
Finally, apply a water-based sealer or wax to protect the distressed finish.
To protect and seal the distressed finish, used 3 coats of polycrylic.
I lightly hand sanded with 220 grit sandpaper between coats.
- Stain or Creme Wax for Distressing Painted Furniture
Ultimately, both furniture distressing techniques produced awesome results.
The dark creme wax produced a more distressed antique look.
I used the entire can of wax for the console table and the can was $10.00.
Also, the wax required a bit more elbow grease.
The stain produced a vintage look and was a bit easier to apply and control.
Also, the stain goes a very long way. I could distress 15 to 20 console tables with one can of stain.
The 32 ounce can of stain costs $16.00.
Is Wax or Stain Better to Distress Painted Furniture
Ultimately, I prefer to distress furniture with wood stain.
It’s more forgiving, cheaper, and produced the best vintage and antique look.
Let me know in the comments if you prefer wood stain or creme wax to distress white painted furniture.
Frequently Asked Questions
Latex paint with a satin or semi-gloss sheen works best to distress furniture.
Apply wood stain or creme wax over paint and wipe it off to make it look aged and rustic.
Sand the corners and edges to remove the paint is the easiest way to distress painted wood furniture.
Applying wood stain over painted wood furniture produces a distressed, aged look.
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