Paint Technique: Antiquing Furniture

Give a ho-hum piece of furniture a timeless, antique-style transformation with a little bit of paint and glaze.

refinished cabinet with a distressed stain

How to distress a cabinet using paint and stain.

A cabinet distressed with paint and stain so as to be rustic and vintage-like.

Photo by: Emily Fazio ©2015

Emily Fazio, 2015

Materials Needed

  • old (or unfinished) piece of furniture
  • latex or acrylic paint in a color of your choice
  • water-based primer
  • oil-based stain (that will function as a glaze)
  • oil-based polyurethane
  • orbital sander
  • sanding block with medium- and coarse-grit sandpapers
  • paint brush
  • screwdriver
  • latex gloves
  • a cotton rag (for staining)

Prep Furniture

Remove the piece's doors and hardware. Tip: Place knobs, hinges and screws together in a baggie so no pieces are misplaced.

Sand Surface

Whether your piece is new and unfinished or old and has a worn finish, sanding is the first step to create a clean surface before applying paint. Using an orbital sander, roughen up the surface. In cracks and crevices, use a sandpaper block or sheet of sandpaper to remove any old finish and prep the wood for painting.

Prime and Paint

Brush or roll a thin coat of primer onto the piece's interior, exterior and doors; allow to dry. Top the primer with a coat of paint in your chosen color and allow to dry. Tip: Applying paint with a paint brush creates peaks and valleys that will be more visible when you apply the stain, resulting in a more accurate antique look.

Sand Again

Once paint has fully dried and before applying stain, give the furniture's edges a thorough sanding so areas of wood are showing through to simulate years of wear. Also, sand around any knobs or pulls and along any areas of raised detail.

Apply Stain

To give your painted furniture a timeworn appearance, brush a thin coat of oil-based stain onto an area, then use a cotton rag to wipe the stain off most of the surface, leaving it mostly in any recessed areas. Tip: Highlight the sanded edges of your piece by brushing a little extra stain along these areas so they're a bit darker and look more aged.

Apply Polyurethane

After the stain has fully dried, add a final coat of polyurethane to protect the finish.

Reinstall Doors and Hardware

Reassemble your piece and display in any area of your home that could use a bit of cottage, farmhouse or rustic-style charm.

Refinished cabinet with a distressed stain

How to distress a cabinet using paint and stain.

A cabinet distressed with paint and stain so as to be rustic and vintage-like.

Photo by: Emily Fazio ©2015

Emily Fazio, 2015

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