Roost + Restore
Decorating Farmhouse Decor

Easy Guide for A Distressed Paint Job

I am a suck­er for a nice heav­i­ly dis­tressed paint job. It is a great way to give new pieces of fur­ni­ture a beau­ti­ful look of old age and his­to­ry. It is no secret that it has become a very pop­u­lar go-to look for refin­ish­ing those out­dat­ed pieces you snagged at a yard­sale or just sim­ply want to cre­ate an updat­ed look in your home. 

In this tuto­r­i­al I share some of my per­son­al tips for when you are look­ing to start your next project. 


To start off, I rec­om­mend hav­ing a dark base. Specif­i­cal­ly for the look I am demon­strat­ing here, a dark espres­so or wal­nut stain is per­fect. I under­stand how start­ing super dark just to go lighter can be con­tra­dic­to­ry but just trust me, you will thank me later.


For the next step, I paint­ed direct­ly over the top of the stain with a satin white inte­ri­or latex paint. I cov­ered the entire sur­face of the areas I want­ed to dis­tress with two full coats. Some may pre­fer using a oil based fur­ni­ture paint. 

I allowed my legs to dry for a few hours before mov­ing on to the actu­al dis­tress­ing. Just keep in mind that dif­fer­ent paints will take dif­fer­ent amounts of time to dry, the main thing is to just be sure there are no tacky areas. Every­thing should be dry to the touch. If you start your dis­tress­ing too ear­ly you will not get the effect were try­ing to achieve here. 


For heavy sand­ing a strip­ping you’re gonna want a heavy grit sand­pa­per. You do not have to use this par­tic­u­lar size and shape of paper, I just had this handy. I am using 80 grit piece from my cir­cu­lar sander. DO NOT use a sander for this step! It is super impor­tant that the sand­ing is done by hand! 


The actu­al sand­ing process is dif­fi­cult to pho­to­graph, I encour­age you to hop on over to my Insta­gram sto­ries lat­er for a quick video tuto­r­i­al on the process I used here. 

I fold­ed my paper in half and sim­ply start­ed to sand the areas of the table legs that would dis­tress nat­u­ral­ly. Think about the edges and places that are not total­ly flat, or an area that is raised. These are the areas that will nat­u­ral­ly be touched and grazed more often than a flat sur­face and it’s the best place to start when want­i­ng a nat­ur­al dis­tressed look. You can even go as far as sand­ing a spot here and there to reveal a bit of the nat­ur­al wood, this adds anoth­er beau­ti­ful lay­er and color.

Quick and care­free motions are impor­tant. DO NOT over think this step. If you think about the place­ment of your scuffs too much you will fall into a pat­tern and that is not what you need for this look. Once you start to get a feel for it you will find a groove. Just start light and remem­ber you can always sand more paint away later.


After the edges and raised areas are fin­ished, comes the heav­ier part of the sand­ing. For this part of the process I rec­om­mend a cross­hatch motion. Find a flat area of your piece and light­ly sand ver­ti­cal­ly fol­lowed by a hor­i­zon­tal motion in the same area. The idea is for it to look like its been scratched in dif­fer­ent direc­tions over time. If you’re doing a large flat space on a dress­er or table top I would rec­om­mend alter­nat­ing between areas of lighter sand­ing in one direc­tion and this cross­hatch method.

I rec­om­mend to start on the lighter side with your sand­ing until you get com­fort­able with it. You can always go back and add more scuffs and scratch­es along the way. But that is it! Achiev­ing a heav­i­ly dis­tressed farm­house look is not com­pli­cat­ed at all! Tru­ly there is hard­ly a way this tech­nique can be messed up. By biggest tip is to NOT FALL INTO A PATTERN. Step back every so often to see your project at a dis­tance to make sure it still looks random! 


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