DIY Distressed Table

Last Updated on February 19, 2016

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 Sure, it wasn’t really in style and my original thoughts were about how gaudy, outdated and dark this table was, but I immediately thought of a million things we could do to make it look amazing!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. 

41 thoughts on “DIY Distressed Table

  1. I love it!! There’s always extremely cheap pieces of furniture at clearance sales at big-box stores, which have so much potential if you’re willing to put some time into it.

  2. Very cool looking! It’s surprising what people are wanting to throw out – with a little creativity and work you can end up with a super cool new piece

  3. This is very creative! I like the look of it. I bet by the end you would have wished for an electric sander. LOL Oh well, it just makes it all that much more *handmade*. Are you doing the chairs too?

  4. I love the DIY posts on your blog and this table is one of my favourites. I have a few tables that I picked up for next to nothing at the auction. It is going to be a busy summer getting them ready. One table that I can’t wait to get started on is a vintage typewriter table…it is beautiful. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Such a great affordable way to get a table that looks awesome and you dont have to pay and arm and a leg for!

  6. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time with one of my dining tables. My sister has recently just opened a wood shop called the woodpeckers cabin and shes doing quite a bit of distressed furniture pieces. LOVE the look.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Kevin Linkie

  7. I’m redoing our 1920’s home and looking for items to add that gives it that acquired look, everything is so expensive, I’m taking the info that I just read and going to do it to a table that I can easily pick up for a few bucks and gonna work some magic, thanks for sharing this post, I’m now inspired!

  8. beautiful job! I’ve tried refinishing before with horrible results! i’ll have to try your tips next time! 🙂

  9. I love the antique look, would love to do this with my dining room table when my kids get a little older to hide the scratches they have made to it lol

  10. Lovely! I’ve always wanted to try this! Craigslist is also a great way to get cheap furniture if not free 🙂

  11. I love the distressed antique look you managed to get and you actually made it look easy too.You have inspired me to try this on an antiqque table I have and hoe it turns out as nice as yours.Thank you for the post.

  12. I love the painted look of this table and will put it on Pinterest for sure as so many people want to know how to get this look! Thanks for sharing the info.

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