How to Antique Faux Finish Furniture for an Aged Look


A new piece of wooden furniture can be made to look like a cherished family heirloom with a faux-finishing technique. Whether it's called antiquing, aging or distressing, the technique includes multiple layers of paint and glaze, a transparent medium that subtly changes the color of the paint beneath, while adding depth to the finish. By adding a glaze with a brownish tint to your piece, as well as applying a few manual techniques, you simulate years of exposure to dust, polish and human wear and tear, creating an instant antique.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspapers or tarp
  • Sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • 2-inch natural bristle brush
  • Paint
  • Aging glaze
  • Polyurethane
  • Cotton cloth
  • Put down newspapers or a tarp in a well-ventilated area.

  • Put your furniture piece on top of the tarp and sand its surface, whether new or a garage-sale find, to prepare it for paint. Wipe down with a tack cloth.

  • Apply primer with a brush, ensuring you cover the entire piece. Let it dry, according to manufacturer instructions.

  • Brush on a coat of flat paint in your chosen color, a lighter shade is best for this project. Work the paint into any carved areas or crevices. Let the paint dry thouroughly.

  • Gently sand areas of the piece that would naturally become worn over the years. On a chair this might include the edge of the seat front and the back where you would naturally grasp it to pull it in and out from a table. On a table, the edges of the table top and bottoms of the legs would show wear; a dresser might be worn around the edges of its top as well as around any pulls. In some areas allow the primer to show through, in others go all the way to bare wood, whatever looks most natural to you. Dust with a tack cloth.

  • Apply the aging glaze with a brush, coating the entire piece.

  • Wipe some glaze off the raised edges of any carved details or spindles with a slightly damp cotton cloth to provide more depth and the look of years of handling.

  • Allow the piece to dry when you are happy with its look, then top coat the piece with a polyurethane finish.

Tips & Warnings

  • At any point in the process, you can apply more age to the piece by making little nicks in the piece with a knife, hit it with a length of chain, or even make a series of small nail holes to simulate wood-worm damage.
  • Applying two colors of paint, then removing some of the top coat with sandpaper creates the look of a piece that has been painted many times over the years.
  • Flat paint absorbs the aging patinas faster and will look more aged than those painted with eggshell or a higher sheen, making them ideal for most furniture pieces.
  • Flat paint will absorb the aging patinas faster and will look more aged than those painted with eggshell or a higher sheen, making them ideal for most furniture pieces.

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