Don’t Stress… Distress!

distressedDistressed furniture. Such a controversial subject. Some hate it, others love it. Let’s face it, it’s a trend that will probably never go away. Thank my lucky stars because I happen to love chippy furniture – a distressed statement piece can add some character to any room. When I first started on my furniture journey, I would spend hours online researching DIY furniture techniques. There were so many different techniques… it was enough to drive me crazy. I had so many questions. Which way is the easiest? Which way is the most durable? How should I do this? What is the difference between this and that? AHHHHH shoot me. Seriously. It seemed so hard, and I was overwhelmed, but I’m glad I didn’t give up. Trust me, it gets easier.

Today I want to talk specifically about distressing techniques. There are so many different ways to distress, how do you know which way will work for you? First, do a little research and go with whatever feels right. I’ll start with what feels right for me – the way I distress furniture. Before I paint anything I prep my piece by cleaning it – wipe away all the nasty gunk and spider webs (I’ve had a few spiders drop in to say hello while cleaning furniture, get the eff out spiders). Then I pull out the drawers and set them up on their backs. I remove the hardware and sand the face of the drawers. (I only do this if I am using new hardware, or if there are a lot of imperfections on the face of the drawers). After that I sand my whole piece a little with fine grit sandpaper.. just to get rid of any shine (the paint sticks better this way). You can use a coarser grit if you would like your piece to appear very rustic. I like to leave a lot of the little imperfections, I feel they give my pieces character and I like the fact that they look old. But to each their own – sand the sh*t out of it if you want, it’s up to you. After I’ve dusted away all of the sawdust, I paint my piece with a dark brown paint (only if the piece is a lighter wood color). I don’t have a specific brand or color,  I just go to home depot and say…. “ummmm I guess that one.” When I distress a piece, I don’t like the lighter wood colors to show through, I like the wood to look nice and dark. After my piece has been painted (2 coats if necessary) and dry, I chalk paint. I paint my little heart out until it’s fully covered and there are no streaks. Next comes the distressing – After the piece has dried for a day or so, i use a fine grit sanding sponge and just lightly sand. That’s it, no crazy tricks here. I gently sand away the spots I want to look distressed, careful not to sand through the brown paint underneath. When I’m all done I seal with wax. This is the easiest way for me. distressed1




The next technique I want to discuss is the Vaseline technique. Prep your piece the same way, and paint with dark brown paint (if needed). Before applying your chalk paint we are going to get our hands dirty with a little petroleum jelly. With your finger, rub a small amount of petroleum jelly wherever you want the paint to chip. (You can also use a candle. Just rub the candle over the spots you want to show distressed). Be careful not to use too much or you’ll end up with a mess. After you add the jelly to all your desired distressed locations, paint your whole piece with your chalk paint. After that has dried, rub the jellied areas with a rough cloth. The paint will come right off, and you will be left with a beautifully distressed piece of furniture.




And on to the next technique – the razor blade technique. Prep and paint your piece the same way as in the first two techniques. When your paint is ALMOST dry scrape it off with a razor blade! Scrape with the grain in long strokes. Scrape, wipe, and repeat. I have yet to try this technique, but Down to Earth Style wrote an amazing How To post on this technique. Head on over and check it out.

You can also just beat your piece – seriously. Take a hammer to it, smack it with chains, anything you could think of. This seems a bit extreme to me – but I see a lot of this on Pinterest. Maybe, one day if a dresser owes me money I’ll just smack it around a bit. Could be a great stress reliever.


During any of these techniques – if you sand a little too much and get down to the natural wood, just touch it up with some dark stain. Dip a Q-tip in some dark wood stain and touch up the spot that you effed up. I always do this when sanding, it’s a life saver.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, there are seriously like 10,000 different techniques – Try some out and let me know which one you like best! I’m interested to know (unless you hate all of these techniques, then keep that sh*t to yourself). Now fly free my little birds, distress your little hearts out. Make that sh*t look old.


Until next time…

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