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Home  /  DIY  /  How to distress furniture with candle wax

On September 25, 2016, Posted by ,




Distressed furniture. The most sought out DIY for those with a rustic heart.

For my first DIY post, I figured it would be a good start on showing how to distress your favourite piece of furniture. It takes a little bit of artistic talent, but all in all is a pretty good way to start your DIY project career!  First things first, lets get a list of what we need.

  • Paint (more on this below)
  • Paint brushes
  • Fine grit (220) sandpaper
  • Item to be painted
  • and of course, candles. (new or old doesn’t matter)

To give a good distressed look on an item, it needs to have contrasting colors. In other words, it needs to have colors that stand out from one another. Dark and light are the easiest way to contrast but you can get into some pretty nifty color combinations that work really well. A teal and a rose give a very vibrant yet rustic look to an old piece of furniture. But for this DIY, I will be using a brown and a off-white (Cottage white to be exact). Now the question is, do you need to actually have 2 colors of paint? Or just 1? Well, it all depends. It depends how much of a contrast the natural wood color is to the final coat of paint you are wanting to put on. Remember, contrast is what we want. A white and a natural pine color are not a good contrast and you will barely notice any distress. So most of the time, DIY’ers usualy need 2 colors of paint. If your piece of furniture is already painted a contrasting color then that’s a bonus for you and you only need 1 color of paint!

My item was an old end table that I made for our old house. It had some water damage on the top of it from an old plant that had a small hole in the bottom of the pot that we were unaware of until we moved it.

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When I originally built it, I stained it with a rust-vinegar-brine with coffee to bring out the natural tannins in the wood, (stay tuned for future DIY) so there was no need to apply a contrasting layer below my new color choice. This is the first step that you need to do. You don’t need to paint the entire piece in the contrasting color like I have above, just where you want to distress, and it doesn’t need to be pretty. Usually corners and edges of the piece and then random spots to make it look natural. This is where the artsy side of you comes in. So paint your base coat.

Once that dries, or if it was already a contrasting color, it’s time to get your wax on! I had an almost finished candle that my wife keeps telling me to throw away but I never throw anything away because you never know when you can use it. Well, I found the use!

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You can use whatever candle you have. If you don’t have any candles you care to junk, a simple tea-lite will work. Really any wax of any sorts will work. But most people have a candle just waiting to be used in their house. You don’t need much. I simply broke off a chunk of the candle (well 2 pieces) as shown below and didn’t even come close to using half of one piece.

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From there, all you do is go over where you want to distress. Like I said before, corners and edges are the “go to” places for distressing. Other random areas are up to your liking. Just remember, it’s got to have a contrasting color.





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Once you are done going over your corners, edges and random spots, (don’t worry you don’t need to remember where your random spots are) you will look at your piece and think “what have I done? I just ruined it! Looks like a kid drew crayons all over it!” Well, you did. But that is the point! It will probably look like what I have pictured below, all waxy. Once again, do not worry.

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So now that we have it all waxed up. It is time to paint! Or, paint again if you already had to paint your base coat. Standard painting here. Just use your brush or roller and paint like you would paint anything. Do as many coats as are needed to be done to finish it like you weren’t distressing it. I did 2 coats of the Cottage White because the brown below was showing through. Here is what it looks like after 2 coats.

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Pretty standard. Just a white base with a bunch of over painting on the brown. I didn’t bother taping the top because I knew I was going to repaint the top anyways. If you are two-toning make sure you tape! But as you can see, you cant tell that there is any distressing yet. Or any visible waxy parts.

Next, get your 220 grit sandpaper. No sanders or anything are needed. Just a piece of sandpaper. All you are going to do is lightly rub over your furniture. Paying close attention to your edges and corners and of course your random ares. So you are now thinking “But how can you pay attention to the random areas? You told me I didn’t have to remember those.” Correct. Use the sandpaper over ALL areas of the item lightly to find where those spots are. You don’t need to rub hard. The paint will just peel right off of the waxed areas. I suggest you start on the corners and edges since you know where those are to get just how light you have to press to get your result. Remember, you aren’t going for perfection here. It is meant to be random, off, and DISTRESSED!

Once all is said and done, you now have your finished product. Finished in the sense of distressing. Something along the lines of this. Nice and distressed

title picture.

From here, you can clear coat your item with whatever shine you want to give it some extra protection. We don’t want more water damage now do we. I decided to go with a matte finish. I think rustic distressed furniture look better with a matte finish.

Product Image - x end table cottage white & timber trail

And there you have it. You just distressed your furniture. Hope you love it!





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