How to distress furniture with charm

Watch as Scott Cam takes you through how to distress furniture, give it that rustic charm and turn ordinary furniture into a first class centrepiece.


There are many ways to distress furniture. There is the crackling technique which gives you the provincial look, or the waxing technique. This how-to focuses on the waxing method, as it is the easiest and the best place to start if you have never distressed furniture before.

Project Steps

  • Step 1: Mark the furniture
  • Step 2: Painting
  • Step 3: Wax

Project Checklist


  • Sandpaper
  • Rags
  • Tools to damage the furniture- i.e. hammer, chain, nails, wire brush
  • Paintbrushes
  • Rollers
  • Wood stains
  • Water based acrylic paint
  • Wood seals

Step 1


Firstly you need to use the nails, hammer, chain or wire brush to mark the furniture to create dents and texture.

Step 2


Mix a water based acrylic paint 50/50 with water to dilute the paint. With a rag or paintbrush, apply to the furniture. You will need to sand this next so don't put too much paint on. Once sanded, you are ready to apply your second coat of paint which will be the contrasting colour. Once again, water this down 50%, as you will need to sand this second coat as well.


Once the second coat of paint has dried, it is time to sand the whole furniture. You can leave as little or as much paint on there as you like. Sanding is a touch job and that's why we thinned our paint down at the start.


Step 3


To give a real traditional feel to the furniture, apply a stain and rub into the furniture well. You can leave the cabinet as is, or to give it a real shine, you can apply a wax or clear sealant.