How to distress wood, no hammer involved

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Trying to distress wood & got results like you took a hammer to it?  Cause you did?  I’ve tried that too.  Here’s how to distress wood without a hammer.

distress wood | barn wood | reclaimed wood | Country Design Style

I adore the farmhouse style and create DIY projects using distress wood.  Rarely do I use actual barn wood because we live in Arizona.  Barn wood isn’t as plentiful as other areas.  When you do find old boards they tend to be expensive.  So, I’ve used several ways to create my own distress wood using new cheaper pine boards.

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How to distress wood

The farmhouse style is here to stay for a while.  Why do I think that?  The list of my reasons the farmhouse will stay.

  • The look of the farmhouse shows up in other styles.  Both minimalist and modern styles use reclaimed wood and industrial farm elements.
  • Pinterest is overflowing with farmhouse ideas.
  • People are clambering to add farmhouse to their homes.  I receive emails all the time from readers looking to switch to the farmhouse look.
  • It’s cozy, casual and inexpensive.
  • It can be feminine and masculine.

Aging wood with Tea and Ironed Vinegar

Aging wood instantly is by far my favorite.  I’ve used it in hundreds of projects and many times along with other paint techniques.  It’s inexpensive and with extra procedures the results are different.

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Chalk-Based Paint and Ironed Vinegar

Paint with chalk paint then ironed vinegar or after?  I have found that using ironed vinegar over chalk-based paint gives the paint a dirty look.  I don’t like that.  But using chalk-based paint on top, then sanding to reveal the “old” wood is incredibly beautiful. 

Chalk-based paint to age wood

The popular chalk-based paint also works to give an aged distress look to the wood.  This is the result I achieved in aging wood using chalk paint.   The possibilities are endless.

How to distress wood

How to distress wood using wax

Waxes are easy and fun to create distress on wood boards and your thrift store wood finds.  My favorite wax is the one I make.  You can apply dark wax first in areas the piece would naturally have wear and distress.  Or apply wax on top of the paint.  White wax or liming wax as a chalky white look to the wood.  This is the whitewash wax I make.  It’s easy to make and much cheaper than waxes you buy.

How I use wax to distress wood and paint:  I apply dark wax in areas that wear, around dents and nicks.  Then paint with two coats of paint {either chalk-based or latex}  When the paint dries, I sand the areas where I waxed to reveal a deeper color of the wood.  Plus this makes sanding to distress easier because the paint doesn’t stick as well to wax.  My final step is to use an artist brush and apply dark and white wax into crevices, nooks, and crannies.  If the piece will have heavy use, I will go over everything with clear wax.

Working with old barn wood or reclaimed wood

There’s nothing better than working with real barn wood…except the dust.  It smells of old.  If the smell is any indication to the life the wood had, it was a hard smelly life.  My uncle gave me old wood from Oklahoma on my last trip home.  You would have thought he gave me gold.  I created a shelf for a TV that helps hide the wires.  In the post, I share cleaning tips to read before working with real barn wood.

Sanding painted furniture to distress the wood

I do not like sanding wood.  But I can get lost in time when sanding to distress furniture paint.  This post shares my tips on sanding and distressing. 

How to distress wood using different techniques.

A collection of favorite painting and distressing tools I use.

How to distress wood is a collection of posts.  Remember to check back as I update the group with more ideas.

I wish I could create DIY projects without sawdust!  Achoo!

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  1. Rhonda Munson says:

    On the aging wood. Do u let the tea / vinegar completely dry ? Then add chalk paint, how long do you leave that on the wood before wiping off?

  2. JaudeRobinette says:

    How exactly do you make your own chalk paint and can you make different colors???
    Thank you

    1. Hi, Jaude, When I make chalk-based paint, I pick the color I want in latex paint. Then I add a tablespoon of calcium carbonite to one cup of paint. Then stir well. I get calcium carbonite on Amazon. At Home Depot, Behr has a chalk-based paint that you can have custom colors added too. I hope that helps you make your own chalk-based paint and paint beautiful things.

  3. I have so enjoyed reading so much of your above post on how to achieve an aged look on wood I drew similar conclusion as you did about buying old Barnwood and much of it is thin and brittle and the prices are according to demand therefore expensive so thank you for helping me learn to do things on my own I’ve already started making my own Chalk paint just using the ingredients that were on back of the expense of jar. Some of the designers and people I’ve met along the way so they never buy the chalk paint they either use a matte paint and wax or as I have done they just make their own chalk paint their opinion is most of them that it’s way overpriced and so easy to get around buying so I’m all for learning about tips to do things with wood thank you so much and I look forward to reading more love your lovely ideas! Linda

    1. Hey, Linda, thank you for your sweet comment. I like trying to do things cheaper but still get beautiful results. I hope you stop by again soon. I’m always here to help and answer any questions. Jeanette

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