How To Distress Paint

Looking to rehab a piece of furniture, but not sure where to begin? We’ve got you covered with this simple tutorial. Some crafters swear by chalk paint, but we found ordinary latex paint did the job just fine!


  • Paste finishing wax
  • Tack cloth
  • Hand sander and/or steel wool
  • Latex paint in finish of your choosing


  1. Sand your furniture piece before painting. This will help the paint to absorb easier. Rub down with a tack cloth to remove sanding remnants and paint the entire surface of your table (or furniture of your choosing) until you no longer see the wood grain beneath it. This piece started out very dark, so it took a couple coats.
  2. Using steel wool or a hand sander, buff the places that would naturally see the most wear-and-tear. The amount of distressing is up to you. Start small, you can always add more distressing!
  3. Finally, seal with a paste finishing wax. Rub an even layer across the surface of the furniture, and you’re set! Note: some crafters recommend a coat of polyurethane, but we prefer the wax.

Photography by Sara Nevels

Alejandra likes ice cream, dancing and pretty things. You can usually find her exploring downtown Phoenix, where she lives, or singing to herself while writing in a coffee shop.

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