A distressed paint effect can add character to many pieces of furniture, old or new, and give them a new lease of life. These techniques are perfect if you want to add a shabby chic, vintage look to your interiors, and upcyle dull or uninspiring furniture to create unique, personalised pieces.

In the videos above and below, Sarah Weightman, furniture upcycler and founder of Everlong Paint, shows in step-by-steps how quick and easy it is to create both wet distressed and dry distressed paint effects. These are easy techniques that anyone can do with a few simple tools, and a project can be easily completed in a day.

wet distressed paint effect result on a chair

A chair finished with the wet distressed paint technique

Wet distressed paint technique

You can choose any paint colours to suit your home decor, and either a lighter or darker shade for the base layer. The technique involves removing the top layer of paint in certain areas, where there would be natural wear over years of use, to give the piece an appealing and characterful patina of age. Depending on your tastes, you can create a light to heavy distressed paint effect.

Watch the video below to see how to do it.

You will need:

  • Sugar soap
  • Bowl of warm water and a sponge
  • Two colours of chalk paint: one for the base layer and one for the top layer*
  • Stirrer
  • 1 inch flat brush
  • Small round brush

*Chalk paint is used because it needs no priming or sanding. Any brand of chalk paint is suitable.

Dry distressed paint technique

dry distressed paint effect

A drawer finished using the dry distressed paint technique

Below Sarah shows how to use this simple technique to achieve an authentic looking dry distressed paint effect on a chest of drawers, and add character to an otherwise tired bit of furniture.

In the video below she shares handy hints and tips on which areas of a piece to distress to avoid the effect looking false.

You will need:

  • Chalk paint
  • 80 grade sand paper
  • Dusting brush

These two distressed paint techniques can be used on any item of furniture, small or large, as well as accessories such as candlesticks or picture and mirror frames.