Distressing – How To Make Your Furniture Look Antique
When I was beginning to learn the craft of making wood furniture back in 1977 in my hometown, I was wondering why the woodworkers there sometimes strip new furniture of their paint finish and then seem to intentionally destroy the finish by denting and scratching the surface. I later realized that what they were doing was a form of decorative art called distressing.
The process involves the conditioning of any piece of metal or wood furniture to make it appear old or weathered. A more thorough form of distressing is called antiquing where the artisan creates not only aged but a much better antique look to the furniture.
Distressing technique can be applied to both finished or unfinished piece. On finished furniture however, there will be additional work like stripping it of the old paint or scraping strategic locations by gently rubbing with a steel wool or sand paper.
So for those who could not afford to buy the expensive real antique wood furniture, you can hire an expert and have your piece distressed to look like the genuine one, at a much less cost.
Or you can do the distressing technique yourself by preparing the tools needed for the project and following some simple procedures.The steps I will enumerate are for distressing and faux painting new and unfinished furniture.
rat tail file
liquid hide glue (crackle coat)
shellac top coat
cheap paint brush
Using a rat tail file gently rub away the sharp edges of the furniture without overdoing it. Also, meagerly cut off some corners with a dull chisel (the cut will not look natural if you use sharp chisel).
Some would use a hammer or chains of different sizes to make dents on the wood. I suggest using a solid rock the size of a softball in striking your piece, rotating it (the rock) while striking so as to have non uniform dents.
To create an aged look on the wood combine heat and moisture to change the wood’s grain. To do this moisten the piece by spraying water then evaporate the moisture with the use of a propane torch. A little burn or char on the edges is okay. Remove excess char with the use of wire brush.
Apply wood stain to darken the color of your furniture. Use a cheap brush. Allow it to penetrate the grain then wipe off the excess stain with a damp cloth. You must let the stain dry first before proceeding to the next step.
Using an ordinary candle in your house, wax the edges of your project. This is necessary to make the scraping of the top color paint later on in the process.
Brush on the base coat. Normally, latex paint is used. Choose a color that is a contrast to the top coat color you will use. When dry sand the base coat lightly, wipe with a tack cloth and apply the crackle coat with a cheap brush.
In order not to look fake, brush on the crackle coat in only one direction.
You can now paint the top coat by applying another flat
latex paint but with a color that is contrast to the base coat. Do not use semi gloss as it will not crackle. Another thing, you should brush quickly and in only one stroke. Brushing over the previous strokes will cover the cracks.
When fully dried, distress the top color by scraping using a paint scraper. Scrape the portion where you had previously put on wax.Sand paper the other portion of the top color. Wipe off the excesses with a tack cloth.
Apply glaze to darken the top coat color so that it would look dirty. Vividly brush the glaze on cracks and dents to create a beautiful patina. Again, wipe off excesses with a cloth.
Finally, seal off the finish with shellac top coat. Brush or spray two times, sanding between each coats using #0000 steel wool.
Protect your finished project with a dark tinted wax and enjoy the fruit of your labor.