How to Paint Wood Furniture White Distressed

By Sarah Bradburn

Distressed white furniture works well in many spaces and decor styles from shabby chic to farmhouse eclectic. It's an especially good option in a home with young children, since every dent, ding and imperfection only adds to the charm of the furniture. Starting with a new piece of raw, unfinished wood furniture is acceptable but not necessarily ideal. A piece that still bears the remnants of previous paint jobs will work especially well when distressing. As you sand away sections of the new white paint, bits of the old color will reveal themselves and create a dramatic patina.

Give rustic charm to furniture with white paint and distressing.

Step 1

Distress the piece of furniture by banging the surface all over with the hammer. Use the screwdriver to create sporadic chips and gouges. Strike the furniture in a random pattern with the string of nuts and washers to imitate years of wear and tear.

Step 2

Lightly sand the furniture all over so the white paint will adhere to the surface and to smooth out any rough patches from distressing. Sanding all the way to bare wood is not necessary since you will be painting and distressing later.

Step 3

Wipe away sawdust and debris with a lint-free damp cloth.

Step 4

Brush on two coats of white paint, allowing each coat to dry completely between applications. Avoid dripping and uneven coats by not overloading the brush with paint. Once the final coat has been applied, allow the paint to dry for 36 to 48 hours.

Step 5

Sand edges and corners with medium-grade sandpaper to remove a little of the white paint. Remove enough of the paint to allow raw wood or previous paint color to show through. This will add to the distressed look of the piece.

Step 6

Rub on furniture wax using a clean, dry cloth. The wax will become hazy once it has dried (typically 10 to 15 minutes). Buff with a second clean dry cloth.