How To Distress Painted Furniture

It’s old news that “distressed” is “in,”  but then again, was it ever “out”?  I think people gravitate toward distressed and aged decor because they can relate to it.  At least I do.  I want something that has seen some hard times.  I want character…and character doesn’t come from perfection.  It’s the nicks, scratches, and bumps along the way that can create something truly special.  It’s the same with life.  This life can leave you battered.  I’m so thankful for a God who sees past my scars, and pours his love and grace into my brokenness.

In part 1 of this series, we talked about how to paint a piece of furniture.  Here, in Part 2, we are going to discuss how to distress painted furniture.

distressed chalk paint

Part 2 – Distressing

There are several techniques you can use for distressing, but this is one of my favorites because you have a lot of control over how much and where the distressing happens.


Fine Grit Sandpaper or Sanding Block


  • Let your paint dry overnight
  • Take your sandpaper and rub over the places that would wear down naturally. This could include: edges, near handles, drawer openings, etc.
  • Gently sand until you see your wood color peeking through.

distress closeup

  • This is where you take a step back to see how it looks…sand some more…and repeat until you’ve reached your desired look.
  • Try not to distress in random patches… you don’t want it looking spotty or unnatural.

It’s as easy as that.  Stay tuned for a tutorial in Part 3 on how to antique, wax, and finish your piece.





  1. melanie says:

    Speaking of distressed, yesterday we went to a cafe BECAUSE it was distressed. We loved the old barstools, the small cutout in the wall where cooks from the kitchen handed plates of their family’s best to the waitstaff, the faded pictures on neon pink walls…..I love that you are celebrating the vulnerable, open and honest feel of distress. I shall grab some sandpaper and celebrate with you.

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