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DIY Distressed Table

This DIY Distressed Table Tutorial will show you how to give any wood furniture a real vintage look!

If you are on a tight budget, but still want to own fabulous and unique furniture, DIY projects are definitely the way to go. This DIY Distressed Table was cheap and relatively easy, but required a lot of my time and hard work. The best part about this DIY in particular is that it cost me barely anything. 

After moving into a new rental unit, my friend came across this formal antique dining room table that her landlord had planned to throw out. I could not believe it! Sure, it wasn’t really in style and my original thoughts were about how gaudy, outdated and dark this table was, but I immediately thought of a million things we could do to make it look amazing! I twisted her arm to make her keep it, but she is thrilled with the results.

DIY Distressed Table
When re-finishing or painting any type of furniture, you need to make sure all of the pre-existing finishes are taken off. This table had a shiny varnished finish, but I loved the wood underneath. Since we were looking to create an antique, ‘aged’ look, I didn’t want to destroy the stain on the wood, because I wanted it to peek through the paint in a few spots. I’ve used paint stripper in other projects, but for this one I opted to sand the table down instead. I don’t own an electric sander, so we sanded it by hand making sure that all of the varnish was off and the table was no longer shiny. 
Next was the fun part. We wanted to go for a distressed, antique look, so I took an old candle and rubbed it along some of the edges where I wanted the original wood to show through the paint. Paint does not easily cover wax, and the wax also protected the stain of the wood underneath. After going around the entire table, carefully planning out where it would be distressed, we painted the entire thing an off-white to go with the old world feel. 
As for the paint, I already had it sitting around from previous projects, but I prefer to use acrylic paint with an eggshell finish (just like you would use on your walls, as it is pretty durable. The table needed two coats of paint, and after we let it dry for a few hours, we got creative with some kitchen tools to give it the distressed look we so desired. 

I used butter knives, scissors and pretty much anything with an edge that could take the paint off of the table in certain spots. We then went around uncovering all the areas we had waxed with the candle and scraped off the paint anywhere else we felt would look good. 

The best part about distressing furniture is that there is no wrong way to do it! It is supposed to look old and a little beaten up, which is all part of the fun. I didn’t want to put a finish on top of the paint because we loved the matte look so much, so my friend is just careful when scrubbing spills off of the table. Like I said, the paint is pretty durable and can withstand some wear and tear. 



Sarah is currently studying Anthropology at McMaster University.  She enjoys up-cycling, creating customized furniture, decorative furniture painting and any do-it-yourself projects, big or small. She is passionate about creative sustainability, by breathing new life into items destined for the land-fill. 

Susan T

Thursday 27th of August 2015

Wow, you did a great job with that!


Friday 7th of August 2015

What a fun project, love the look.

kathy downey

Wednesday 17th of June 2015

I cant wait for the yard sales to start,hoping to find a nice table to redo


Thursday 11th of June 2015

I really like the look of distressed furniture.

kathy downey

Saturday 14th of March 2015

I will be watching the yard sales this year for some good pieces