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How To Distress Oak Furniture

Interior and exterior decoration doesn’t have to be a pain, and it doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money, either. Why run out the furniture shop when you can do it yourself, and make it look classy? See that battered old table gathering dust in the corner? It’s time to get creative and save some money at the same time. Distressing oak furniture is officially the ‘in’ thing to do, and goes perfectly with 2014’s interior themes – neutral tones and natural textures.


Image by CastawayVintage

Luckily, it’s fun and easy to do, and the end product is spiffy too. Check out our steps for distressing that oak piece:

  1. Get your mitts on some furniture – of the wooden variety, of course – and collect your sand paper, tack cloth, primer, nails, screwdriver, stain and brush and sealer. All these will be available from your local hardware store.
  2. Sand your piece down and do so in the direction of grain. This will employ the full effect of distressing and really make it look aged.
  3. 3.    Use the tack cloth to clean off all the excess dust so that you have a clean surface to work on – you don’t want any of this to get trapped underneath your primer coat.
  4. 4.    Apply all-purpose primer or a tinted primer for darker woods in a thin coat, then leave it to dry off.
  5. 5.    Sand your table, chair or cupboard again once your primer is all dry. Wipe the table with your cloth again and then apply another coat of primer.
  6. 6.    After the coat has dried, you can get out some nails, a screwdriver or even a hammer and pick a few holes in your piece for authenticity.
  7. 7.    Once you’ve picked out wood and created the patterns you like on your piece of furniture, wipe it with your cloth again and clear off all the dust.
  8. 8.    When the surface is clean again, apply your stain with a brush by painting it on, wiping it off and moving on to another section of the piece.
  9. Leave your piece to dry and apply a sealer when it’s all done.


Image by aaronbrothers

And there you have it. Nine easy steps for distressing your furniture. Since distressing is all about making old things look older, or new things look old, using tools which you’d usually shy away from is a positive. Hammers, screwdrivers, nails, screws and blunt knives are all great tools for doing some dirty work before sanding down and applying your paint or primer. There are plenty of ways to go about this and most involve paint.

For instance, you can invest in some milk paint and create a convincing piece with an even easier approach. All you have to do is apply the milk paint to the piece and leave it to dry. After that, you wipe a damp cloth over the surface to reveal the grain and marks of the wooden furniture beneath. Seal it off with wax or sealer and leave it to dry. This is a great method if you’re not into the labour intensive sanding effort, but it’s not quite as convincing as the distressing you’ll get done by using the steps above.

Carpentry and decoration are natural expressions of art and craft, and are satisfying areas to work in, offering ample mediums to manipulate. The tools and resources are often cheaper than the finished products, and the craft is simple to learn. If you’re still a little bit stumped about distressing or any other decorative or carpentry technique, some quick and easy DIY trainingwill get you goin’. Don’t be distressed; get sanding!