How to Make New Wood Look Old and Distressed

How to Make New Wood Look Old and Distressed
Distressed Armoire

When we received this armoire for our dining room, it looked very “brand new.” Not that “new” is bad, but I prefer the old and weathered wood look that compliments our farmhouse style. Therefore, I decided to distress it using sandpaper, stain, and chalk paint. (FYI – this is pine wood but these techniques work with most types of wood.)

Distress new wood to look old
Before and After Distressing Wood

Materials Used: 

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  1. Using palm sander and 60 grit sandpaper, sand wood until mostly bare. (I love the sander listed above because I was able to do this inside without creating a mess! I was shocked at how efficient it was containing the dust.)
  2. Whitewash Wood: Mix 1 part water to 2 parts white chalk paint (see in materials list above). Apply on wood with brush and lightly wipe off with rag. I did varying degrees of intensity, meaning some areas looked painted completely white and others were just lightly coated. After drying, sand the more intense areas with palm sander and 80 grit paper to achieve a chipped paint look.
  3. Briarsmoke Stain: Using foam brush, apply the briarsmoke stain almost completely over all wood, leaving a few streaks of white. (Do this in sections, wiping off with rags as you go to prevent stain from drying and becoming tacky.)

    Briarsmoke Stain
    Briarsmoke Stain
  4. Jacobean Stain: After briarsmoke is applied, use a foam brush to apply jacobean stain in select areas. Employ the same method of brushing on and wiping off with rag. The dark areas (almost black) on the armoire is from this stain.

    Briarsmoke and Whitewash with Jacobean Stain
    Briarsmoke and Whitewash with Jacobean Stain
  5. If the wood looks too “patchy,” either sand the area to smooth or apply one of the above-mentioned techniques again. It is really about layering until you achieve the look you are going for. I did not apply a topcoat to the armoire  because I was going for the dull/unfinished look and it will not be exposed to the elements. However, you may apply one as a final touch if desired.

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