How To Distress Furniture Using Paint and Stain

6 Materials
1 Day

In this HT tutorial, learn how to distress furniture using paint and stain. This simple technique can be used to upcycle existing furniture for a new look or to flip used furniture for profit.

Video Tutorial

There are several things which are difficult to fully explain with words and images, so be sure to watch the video tutorial below.

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Choose Furniture

I purchased this desk off of Craigslist for 75.00. The desk was in rough shape, but had the farmhouse style I wanted.

Paint Furniture

First, paint the furniture with 2 coats of white paint. Additionally, satin (eggshell) or semi-gloss sheens work best when distressing painted furniture with stain.


Next, use an orbital sander with 120 grit sandpaper to sand the corners and edges to remove the paint and expose the wood. Basically, sand the areas which are prone to wear and tear.

Test Stain

Use a scrap piece of wood and paint it the same color as the furniture. Test various wood stains and waxes until you find the product that looks best to you.

Apply Stain

Apply stain in small sections using a foam brush to areas which would naturally distress. Keep in mind, you don’t need to be overly cautious when applying stain to painted furniture.

Remove Stain

To remove the stain, use a rag and wipe the area until most of the stain is removed.

Additionally, the stain darkens the white paint to produce a distressed and weathered look.

Also, work in small sections to prevent the stain from drying, which makes it difficult to remove.

Control Antique Look

The amount of stain removed determines the antique and distressed look. For a subtle antique look, wipe to remove more stain.

Wipe less to achieve a greater weathered and distressed look.

Apply Protective Top Coat

Apply a protective top coat, such as Polycrylic, to the distressed painted furniture and follow the manufacturer’s instructions..

3 coats work best to protect the distressed furniture from normal wear and tear.

Use It or Sell It

Like I mentioned, I use this technique often to flip used furniture I purchase from Craigslist.

I purchased this desk for $75.00 on craigslist for my daughter’s room.

After I finished this furniture makeover project, a friend offered to purchase the desk for $500.

I calculated my profit margin to be roughly $400 after $25 dollars in materials. Despite the nice profit margin based on 3 hours of my time, I declined the offer b/c the desk is for my daughter.

Maybe she will consider selling it after she uses it for a few years.


In closing, I hope this HT tutorial provided you with value and the tips/techniques help you with your furniture distressing project. Visit my blog for more DIY tutorials.

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Jeremy Hoffpauir

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