How to Make a Distressed Picture Frame

Turn a frame like this into an "antique"
Turn a frame like this into an "antique" (Image:

Distressed wood is simply wood that has been treated to make it look antique and rustic. If you have a friend who loves to decorate her home in country furnishings, you can make this charming frame as a gift that will be cherished for years. The best part just might be the cost--you can make one of these frames for just a few dollars.

Things You'll Need

  • Wooden picture frame
  • Sandpaper
  • Paintbrushes
  • 2 acrylic paints
  • Leftover candle pieces
  • Newspaper or drop cloth

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Cover your work area with newspapers or drop cloths. Sand your picture frame a bit, especially if it is glossy at all. This will help the paint stick to it.

Paint the frame with the first paint color. You can use whichever color you choose. This will be the color that shows through when you later "distress" the frame. Allow the paint to dry completely.

Rub the broken candle pieces onto the frame, mostly on edges or any uneven surfaces, such as decorations in the wood. The wax will allow you to scratch off the top coat of paint more easily, so you want to apply the wax in areas that would be the most worn if this frame really was antique. Rub it on rather thickly.

Paint the frame with the second color of paint. Allow this coat to dry completely.

Fold the sandpaper so that you have a double-sided edge of the abrasive side. Use this edge to go around the frame and scrape some paint off the areas you applied wax to. Continue sanding until you have achieved your desired look.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can use two darker colors and apply a third coat of white, waxing and sanding after each coat, to create an even more weathered appearance.
  • If you have a limited budget, try a dark wood picture frame and a can of white spray paint. Wax some of the frame prior to spraying, then sand off some of the white paint.
  • Check your local hardware or building supply store for cheap "oops" paint. Customers order special colors and don't like the results, so stores sell these paints at a deep discount.
  • Paint in a well-ventilated area.
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