How to Distress Black Furniture


You do not have to spend a lot of money on antique furniture to give your home a rustic look. Instead, you can give the furniture pieces that you already own an old-fashioned overhaul. Making newer furniture pieces look older by giving them a weather-beaten or aged appearance is known as distressing. And while any color furniture can be distressed, black furniture pieces offer a dramatic result.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Medium-Grit Sandpaper
  • Coarse-Grit Sandpaper
  • Remove any furniture knobs, hinges or hardware that may get in the way of the distressing process, using the appropriate sized screwdriver. Place the hardware pieces together in a baggie and store them in a safe place.

  • Sand the surface of the furniture piece with medium (80 to 120) grit sandpaper. If the black furniture has a sheen or gloss to it, it will need to be removed in order to give it an aged and worn look. Distressed furniture often has a dull or matte finish.

  • Use a coarse (40 to 60) grit sandpaper to distress the edges of the black furniture piece. Rub the sandpaper back and forth along the edges and corners to achieve a worn look.

  • Sand the areas underneath and around where the hardware will be replaced with the coarse-grit sandpaper. The areas around knobs and latches are a usual spot for natural distress. Also remember to sand around moldings and crevices.

  • Create further signs of distress and wear with tools such as a hammer and screwdriver. Running the screwdriver along the wood will leave distress lines and scratches, and bangs and dings can be left with a slight hammering.

  • Continue the distressing process, by sanding and scratching the black furniture piece, until it looks worn. Re-attach the hardware, and display.

Tips & Warnings

  • To avoid having to do a heavy initial sanding on a furniture piece that has a glossy finish, you can opt to repaint the furniture piece with a flat black acrylic paint. A light sanding beforehand will allow for a good base for the paint to adhere to the furniture. Any piece of furniture can be painted black with a flat acrylic paint. Once it has been painted, allow the paint to harden overnight and then begin the distressing process the following day. If there is a paint color that is unattractive underneath the black layer of paint on your furniture piece, you will have to sand through it. Continue sanding through the colored layer of paint until you reach bare wood in order to make the furniture piece look distressed.
  • Do not use oil-based black paint for distressing furniture. The hardening time for oil based paint can take up to one week and oil does not scuff as nicely as the acrylic based paint. Keep in mind that you want the black furniture piece to look worn but not destroyed. Don't overdo the distressing; you want the result to look genuinely aged.

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  • Photo Credit Jonae Fredericks
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