How To Add a Distressed Finish to Cabinets

You want your cabinets to look so antique but you can’t wait for three decades or more for them to achieve that desired look. If a distressed look appeals to you, then why not add a distressed finish to your cabinet, instead? You don’t need to hire a professional to do this for you. The steps needed to finish the project are so easy to follow.

  • Prepare the cabinet for the project. The cabinet should be clean enough for the distressed finish. To do this more effectively, you need to remove the cabinet doors. This will make the sanding out of stains and paint easier. After sanding the cabinet, wipe it off with a dry and clean cloth. Cover the parts that you don’t want to be painted. Mostly, the distressed finished is only applied on the obvious parts of the cabinet.
  • Apply primer. Cover the entire cabinet with a primer. Apply as much primer as needed. It’s best to lightly sand the cabinet with every primer coat.
  • Apply the paint. Light colors like cream and white are typically the choice for achieving the distressed look. Spray a thin layer of paint all over the cabinet. Two coats are advisable instead of just one. Again, make sure that you use only a thin layer of paint coat. The thicker your paint is, the uglier your distressed finish will look. Let the paint dry out completely.
  • Sand the cabinet. Use sanding paper to remove the layers of paint until the wood or the primer shows through. Focus the sanding on the cabinet’s edges. The wood should be more visible on the edges than other parts of the cabinet. Wipe off the sanding dust to prepare the cabinet for the glaze paint.
  • Apply the glaze. It’s best to use dark and water-based glaze to achieve the distressed look. The brush strokes should be long and even. Wait for some minutes until the glaze is almost dry. Don’t wait until the glaze is totally dry, though. You have to remove as many glaze as needed to achieve the distressed finish. Use a rag to do this. The wiping should be vertical and done in one direction. Let the glaze dry out completely.
  • Apply protecting finish for the cabinet. Apply a satin-finish and water-based polyurethane on the entire cabinet. This will protect the cabinet from damages and will keep the distressed look last longer, too. Let the polyurethane dry.
  • Put the cabinet parts together. Make sure that the paint is completely dry before you put everything together again. Some people will give the cabinets another two days to dry before using them again. You should follow the same concept especially if you’ll be putting clothes or foods inside.

Finishing this project is pretty easy and fast. But that doesn’t mean you should forget about safety when doing this project. The paint you’ll use for the cabinets might intoxicate you if you do the project in an enclosed area. The project should be done in a well-ventilated area. If the room doesn’t have this, then you have to bring the cabinet outside and do the project there.

Besides cabinets, you can also use the same technique to achieve a distressed finish on other wooden furniture pieces.


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