In this tutorial, learn how to distress painted furniture with stain or wax.
In fact, I use these simple furniture distressing techniques to upcycle and sell used furniture for a profit.
If you like refinishing furniture, be sure to grab my FREE chalk paint recipe at the end of this article.
So, let’s get started with a list of things I used in this project.
Tools and Materials
Americana Decor Creme Wax, 8-Ounce, Deep Brown
2 inch chip brushes
Polycrilic Spray Finish
Cheap white paint
There are several things which are difficult to fully explain with words and images, so be sure to check out the video tutorial below!
I built 2 identical console tables using scrap 2x4s and 2x6s for some friends.
These are the same friends I built the distressed farmhouse pantry door for earlier this year.
In order to match the farmhouse and shabby chic decor in my friend’s home, I used 2 different furniture distressing techniques on each console table.
I used wood stain on the first console table.
On the second console table, I used creme wax.
Both distressing techniques create a vintage, aged look.
At the end of this post, please leave me a comment and let me know which technique you like best!
Distressing Painted Furniture Overview
Distressing painted furniture involves using techniques and products to make the piece appear naturally aged.
Time needed: 1 hour.
How to Distress Painted Wood Furniture with Stain or Wax
- Apply Wood Stain or Dark Wax to Small Sections
First, apply wood stain or creme wax to a small section of the painted furniture with a brush, staining pad, or rag.
- Remove Stain or Wax with Rag
Next, use a rag to remove the stain until the desired distressed look.
- Apply Protective Finish
Apply a water-based sealer to protect the distressed finish such as Polycrylic, Shellac, or Polyurethane.
Paint Wood Furniture
First, I painted each piece of furniture with white semi-gloss paint.
This is the first step for both distressing techniques.
Furthermore, it makes no difference if the painted furniture is old or new.
I find semi-gloss or satin/eggshell paint works best for distressing painted furniture.
The semi-gloss sheen makes it easier to wipe off wood stain or wax as I’ll show you in later in this article.
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.
Additionally, I always use the cheapest paint I can find when I know I plan to distress wood furniture.
Ultimately, it makes no sense to paint with expensive paint for furniture distressing projects.
Distress Painted Furniture with Stain
To distress furniture with stain over paint, I used varathane weathered gray wood stain.
I like using gray wood stain on white paint because it produces a vintage look.
Also, this blends well with antique and farmhouse decor. Ultimately, any color stain works for distressing painted furniture.
For example, I used light blue and coral wood stain to distress furniture for a coastal beach look.
I use light stain on dark paint and dark stain on light paint.
One of the console tables needed to match the farmhouse pantry door, so I used the same distressing technique.
Apply Wood Stain to Paint
First, I applied the gray stain with a chip brush in small sections in order to prevent the stain from drying, which makes it difficult to remove.
I use chip brushes to apply stain simply because they are cheap.
Also, brushes work better than rags for this furniture distressing technique.
Remove Stain with Rag
First, I used a shop rag to wipe the stain.
Stain absorbs into the paint regardless of how much I wiped the surface. Essentially, this is supposed to happen.
It’s also difficult to remove the stain from the seams, corners, and other hard to reach places with a rag. Again, this is supposed to happen.
Ultimately, this makes the furniture appear as if it were naturally distressed.
As a quick tip, I find it helpful to have 2 or 3 rags available.
It becomes difficult to remove stain as the rags get saturated with stain.
Once I achieved the distressed look, I moved to the next section.
As I mentioned previously, the semi-gloss paint really allows me to control the distressed look and work much faster.
Distress Painted Furniture with Wax
For the second furniture distressing technique, I used the same process as the first technique.
However, I used dark creme wax instead of stain.
This wax is normally used with chalk paint, but can be used on raw wood or painted surfaces as well.
Apply Wax to Painted Furniture
First, I used a chip brush to apply the dark creme wax to the painted furniture.
I noticed the creme wax dries very quickly. Consequently, I worked in smaller sections.
Additionally, it blends more deeply into the paint than stain.
Since the wax dries very quickly, the chip brush became stiff after the first 2 sections.
As a result, I used my hand with a latex glove to apply the wax.
I found this to be much easier and faster as well.
Remove Creme Wax
I removed the wax with multiple rags until I achieved my desired distressed look.
Protect Distressed Finish
To protect and preserve the distressed finish, I used 3 coats of polycrylic.
I lightly hand sanded with 220 grit sandpaper between coats.
Distress Painted Furniture: Wax or Stain
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 stain.
It’s more forgiving, cheaper, and produced the best vintage and antique look.
In conclusion, I hope you learned how to distress painted furniture with stain or wax..
Be sure to visit our online store for DIY plans and Handmade items.
Let me know in the comments which technique you like better.
The Best DIY Farmhouse Pantry Door Project
People love the farmhouse and shabby chic decor style for their home. This style is no longer just a popular trend, it’s here to stay.
Click HERE to see the best DIY farmhouse pantry door project for your home.