How can I paint over distressed furniture?


OK - I know distressed furniture & metal decor is "hot" right now but I hate it. I grew up with very used secondhand furniture and like the look of new, unblemished, fresh-looking surfaces. Instructions to add distressing say to use wax so the top furniture paint layer doesn't adhere to those spots. Is there a way to paint over purposely distressed metal and wood to have a smooth unbroken color?

  8 answers
  • GrandmasHouseDIY GrandmasHouseDIY on Jan 09, 2020

    Hi Sue, for sure! I would use a paint stripper first then thoroughly sand the furniture before moving on to primer, paint and than sealant. You'll end up with a nice new looking piece.

  • K. Rupp K. Rupp on Jan 09, 2020

    Ahhh, I hear you!! I like a tiny bit of antiquing but I'm not on board with the complete shabby chic look. Having a hard time accepting it. ha. Ok so what I am understanding ..... It looks like you have 2 different questions. 1) you want instructions on how to distress where the top layer doesn't adhere to certain areas but it is smooth not chippy. 2) how to paint over chippy and distressed to get smooth?

    Sorry, just clarifying your question to understand better and answer it better. For the first question, I have seen where you can paint a piece of furniture the antiquing color. Then add vaseline in the very spots you will lightly distress. Then when you paint that top layer of the color you really want, like you said, it won't adhere to those spots and the antiquing color comes through. I have not done that to tell you how it works though. I usually paint all my furniture like this.....which leads to your second question....

    I sand down any chippy furniture I get at thrift stores. You can use a stripper, to get layers of paint off but I usually just get to all the sanding first. I start with a 180 grit or lower depending on how bad it is, and then I move to 220. Use an attached vacuum and mask!!!

    Then I primer with Benjamin Moore primer. You can brush it on but I like to use a sprayer. It will give a pro finish. Then after that, lightly sand with 220 or you can also lightly steel wool. It starts your base out super smooth. Then I use Benjamin Moore advance!!(cabinet paint) It has self leveling properties because it is an epoxy paint so if you use a brush, it will still look awesome. I use a sprayer to get that super sleek pro finish. It's the best paint for furniture in my opinion. It doesn't chip, it doesn't wear, I just wipe it down when it is dirty. And it doesn't even need a topcoat. I love it. I think it gives the smooth look you are looking for. It is heavy duty paint!!! If you want to see how good it looks, check out my post on home talk:

    And here it is on my blog with more details:

    I have a new post coming soon where I used the paint in a different color on another piece of furniture. So stay tuned in;). Good luck.

  • Gk Gk on Jan 09, 2020

    What are you working on Sue? Is it a piece of furniture that has been factory distressed or is it something someone else has painted over and then distressed? Depending on the finish that is on whatever you are working on you may be able to go over everything with chalk paint. You can even paint over "waxed" chalk painted furniture if the chalk paint and wax has been on for more than 30 days. After 30 days both products have cured and you can paint over it again with chalk paint. If your furniture has a factory distressed look you can still paint over it with chalk paint with very little prep work. Can you add a picture or give us more information? You don't have to apply wax before you paint and then distress so there may or may not be wax on those spots that you don't like. It would be really helpful to know more to give you the best answer.

  • Hi, Yes if you really want to do it right, or you want a wood look, do what GrandmasHouseDIY said and sand it down. If you're feeling lazy and want to paint it, try this primer: I used that process on this project:

  • Sue Sue on Jan 09, 2020

    Thanks for these answers and links! I'm not currently working on anything but was wondering if it's possible to ELIMINATE the distressed surface as in option #2 from K. Rupp's post above. I'm referring to factory distressed items from stores, not "homemade" distressed look. I've seen wall decor that I like but don't want the "chips", etc. Also, can I use chalk paint on metal as well as wood?

  • Fiddledd224 Fiddledd224 on Jan 09, 2020

    1. Smooth the surface with fine grade sandpaper

    2. Wipe off all residue with a damp cloth

    3. Apply primer coat

    4. Apply top coat...add second top coat if necessary.

    5. Apply wax or poly finish (if you want, but not necessary if you want a flat finish)

  • Sue Sue on Jan 09, 2020

    Thanks everyone!

  • J Brown J Brown on Jan 10, 2020

    Amazing another kindred spirit that's NOT on-board with the Farmhouse look.