How to Distress Furniture!

3 Materials
30 Minutes

There are many different ways you can distress furniture! I wanted to share with you all one of my favorite (secret;)) ways to distress furniture. It is simple and adds an authentic distressed look to your furniture.

To begin you will need a piece of furniture that has some raised details. I chose an antique bed for this project. Raised details really pop when you are distressing furniture! :)

Bed Before

Notice the raised edges and pretty details on the headboard and footboard. This is great for distressing! :)

Once you have your furniture selected you will need to have painted your furniture with 2 coats of a chalk based or mineral based paint. I used Annie Sloan Old Ochre for this project.

Supplies for this project:

  1. Steel Wool GRADE 3
  2. Clear Finishing Wax
  3. Shop Towels

After furniture project has been painted with two coats of paint and is dry begin by lightly dipping the steel wool into the furniture wax. You want just a small amount of wax on the steel wool.

Begin rubbing the raised edges of your furniture with the wax and steel wool. (Grade 3 steel wool is import! It needs to be course to help remove the paint.)

Rub until you see that paint is being removed. Rub just enough so that you can still see some of the original finish of your furniture project. :)

NOTE: Steel wool is great because it is more pliable than sandpaper. You can make it fit the exact shape of what you are wanting to distress.

Use shop towels to wipe off any dust and excess wax. Keep repeating this process on all raised edges of your furniture. What is great about this method of distressing furniture is that you are also sealing your project while you are distressing! How cool is that!?

picture of distressed bed
distressing top edges of headboard

PRO TIP: Add dark wax in creases of furniture for an antiqued distressed look.

After you have distressed all of your raised edges with steel wool you can finish your project by continuing to seal project with clear wax and a shop towel. Make sure to work the wax into the paint and lightly buffing to shine. :)

At this point you should have a pretty distressed bed.

Close up of distressed details. :)

If you'd like to learn more about the secrets of distressing furniture click here!

Would you like to learn more about painting furniture? If so send me a message at and I'll get you more info! :)

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 4 questions
  • Kathy Green
    on Aug 6, 2019

    What light & dark wax do you recommend using on white chalk paint? I was asked to paint a old cedar bed

    • Marie
      on Aug 6, 2019

      Annie Sloan Wax is the best I have found...

  • Jeri Walker
    on Aug 6, 2019

    I do a lot of furniture distressing but I do not like to wax after, I like using a paint on sealer so I was wondering if it is necessary to dip the steel wool in wax? I could not do a paint on sealer if it has wax on furniture piece.

    • Megan
      on Aug 6, 2019

      Hi Jeri! I find that dipping the steel wool into the wax gives a higher sheen.

      But if you use a spray on sealer (love those!) then it’s not necessary to dip the steel wool into the wax! You can just do the steel wool distressing then your sealer 😀

  • Joan Stanley
    on Aug 11, 2019

    I have newly painted kitchen cabinets but they were painted with a latex satin paint. Can a dark wax or antiquing technique be used along the edges/crevices? I've heard it can't be done on latex paint.

    • Megan
      on Aug 11, 2019

      I would definitely try it out if it's something you are really wanting! (Do a test spot first.) Wax is a lot thicker. I would use a small brush and a small amount of dark wax. Go along the edges of the cabinet where you are wanting them antiqued and see how it adheres. I prefer Annie Sloan's dark wax. A little will go a long ways. Use shop towels to remove excess wax.

      NOTE: Clear wax will also remove dark wax, so it's good to have that handy incase you accidentally add too much dark wax and need to remove some.

      Also check out Valspars Antiqueing glaze. This works great for cabinets.

Join the conversation

3 of 9 comments
  • Eva
    on Aug 31, 2019

  • Kimberly
    on Aug 7, 2020

    Love your tips. Have never used steel wool before. The bed looks great and I love your walls as well!

    • Megan
      on Aug 8, 2020

      Hi Kimberly!

      Yay! Hope the tips can help you! Love that you love the walls and bed!! The "wall" you can actually buy at Lowes! It is paneling.

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