Well, despite the fact that I am starting to feel my age, this post is actually about achieving that well worn, loved, aged and antique look on furniture and decor items.
I have been experimenting with several techniques to add age to “newer” pieces of furniture. Here are a few ways to add some character through distressing:
Throwing the chain in:
These are a few of my favorite distressing tools:
Throwing a chain at wood gives you those elliptical dents. Dragging the sharp edges of a pry bar across wood will give it some deep grooves. Finally a few random hammer marks here and there finish off the worn look.
Sanding through the years:
The easiest way to add some age and expose layers of paint is to pull out a power sander. I use 150 grit sand paper (but use whatever you have on hand). Then go to town on the furniture, a good example of this can be seen on this Trashy Coffee Table.
A table that was previously painted white received a beachy blue layer of paint on top of the white. (You could always add a third color if you want more colors showing through.) Sand through the layers of paint down to the bare wood in spots. The challenge with a new piece of wood is that it lacks the deeper darker color tone of antique lumber. When the wood is exposed and it looks blonde and – well – brand spankin’ new. Add some stain!
Faking age with stain:
I have a trick up my sleeve for creating those darker wood tones in seconds!
Simply paint some wood stain onto the blond wood spots.Wipe off immediately. If you desire darker wood, re-apply.
My two favorite stains for aging are Minwax Red Mahogany and Minwax Early American, but any dark color stain would work just as well.
Staining Tea Stains:
You can also use the same stain to give your object a “tea stain”. An antique gold 80′s mirror can be transformed easily.
Spray paint the frame with Rustoleum’s Heirloom White. Use Oil Rubbed Bronze for the inside decorative design.
Then, hand sand some of the edges to expose the stained wood beneath.
Now use a dry brush technique* to brush on the stain and then wipe the excess off immediately. *Keep your brush dry by dipping in the stain and wipe off your brush on a rag before using it.
It is important to use a old shaggy brush. The rattier the brush the better because anywhere the stain lands is where it will remain.
Glazing the surface:
Did the permanency of the tea stains scare you? Have no fear, one of the more forgiving ways to give your object an antique tone is to use a glaze.
Valspar makes a few different glazes. Mocha glaze is great for brown tones. And Asphaltum adds some pretty gray tones.
Simply brush on the glaze (again use a ratty almost dry brush.)
The glaze stays wet and can be almost completely wiped off immediately. Therefore you need to either let it dry a little or wipe very gently.
Here is a peek at the mocha glaze on these coffee table legs:
Sorry Mr. Miyagi. No wax off today.
I made sure to push more glaze into the gouges and crevices to show off the details.
Using the Valspar Asphaltum glaze (use the same technique of wiping on and blotting off), gives you more gray tones and gave this picture frame a dirty distressed look:
It may take a while to build up the glazing. But, you can end up with a really nice final product. Not my favorite aging technique, but is is very forgiving if you are new to glazing.
A spattering of interest:
Another technique I like is adding stain spatters. This is easy enough to do, but if you aren’t wearing protective clothing you might get some freckles added to your body.
Dip your brush into the stain and wipe off any excess. Then gently tap the brush on a stick or handle of something sturdy. A large screwdriver or other solid object works well. This time I didn’t wipe the stain off. I let it dry a little then dabbed up the excess.
Once you have achieved the antiqued look you like, be sure to put a protective coating of polyurethane over the whole object. I prefer an old can of oil-based polyurethane that has already started to yellow. This adds the perfect age to furniture. (If you use new oil-based poly, it will yellow in a few years time.) If you don’t like the yellowing effect, stick to the water-based polyurethane.
Now, don’t be distressed, grab some sandpaper and a brush and give your furniture an age boost!
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