First Time Distressing...


... Furniture! I found a wood bureau on Craigslist for $99 and I want to use it for our tv stand, seeing I've seen some cute ideas o...

How to distress a bureau

... Furniture! I found a wood bureau on Craigslist for $99 and I want to use it for our tv stand, seeing I've seen some cute ideas on Pinterest and by my mother-in-law, Pam... She LOVES distressing furniture so it's a shame she doesn't live closer so I could get classes in Distressing 101. She normally distresses a different way (using paint) so it's a little different process. I used this tutorial and tips from Pam though to get through this project. I'm listing my costs for the stuff I needed to buy and how long each step took me. I already had some of the supplies.

Here's the "BEFORE"
What you need and the cost

Free because I had them already...
  • Old scrap cloth (I upcycled a tshirt)
  • Paint Brush: $0
  • Sponge Brush: $0
  • Electric Sander: $0 
  • Drop Cloth: $0
  • Plastic gloves: $0 (from cutting up Willow's seizure pills)
Not free... 
  • 1 Gallon of Behr Swiss Coffee Satin Paint: $27.96 (I think a pint might have been sufficient)
  • Staining Pads: $3.98
  • 120 Grit Sheets for the sander (a Mouse): $5.97
  • 80 Grit Sheets for the sander: $4.97
  • 1 Pint of Minwax Wipe on Polyurethane: $11.97
  • 1 Pint of Minwax Wood Finish Dark Walnut: $7.77
Total Cost: $62.62 ($161.62 with the bureau cost)

The Process

Step 1: Remove hardware
Time: 5 minutes

Use a screwdriver to remove all of your hardware, including hinges. Put them somewhere safe until you're finished the project.

Awful picture, but this is it sanded.
Step 2: Sand furniture down.
Time: 125 minutes

I sanded the furniture with 80 grit paper on my electric sander. Pam told me I didn't want to sand it TOO well... Having a few areas that show the previous wood stain isn't bad in my case because the furniture stain matches my current wood floors.

I researched this a little more and I don't think people always sand before doing this. I think some people prefer to keep the paint color underneath, paint over, then sand to distress which leaves the original color peeking through. I might be lazy and try that next time!

After you're down sanding, wipe it down with damp cloth, and resand anything that is still shiny (some shine in cracks is ok).

Step 3: Really clean up all the dust from sanding.
Time: 5-10 minutes

There will be a lot of dust. If you don't clean it up, you may ruin your paint job if any gets on the paint while it's drying. That would suck so don't be lazy!

Step 4: Paint
Time: 195 minutes (plus 9 hrs total of "dry time")
1st Coat: 75 minutes
2nd Coat: 90 minutes
3rd Coat: 30 minutes (mostly touching up areas that weren't covered well)
I did Behr Swiss Coffee because I liked the way the blog poster from {AKA Design} did hers... The colors worked for my living room. It took me three coats, although if I'd used a paint brush on the top and sides instead of a roller I might have gotten away with two coats. I waited a few hours between coats to give it time to dry. This worked out for me because I'd paint during Baby G's nap, then again once he was in bed.

Step 5: Distress
Time: 120 minutes

I used an electric sander with 120 grit paper for most of this which made it go pretty quickly. Edges and corners are super easy... You just need to run the sander along them, making sure not to make it look too perfect. It's supposed to look like the bumps and bruises happened naturally. For the larger areas I had a hard time deciding how to distress them. I didn't like one side I did, but at that point I'd committed to doing something similar on the other side. I ended up using a regular piece of sandpaper (I used the scraps from sanding before) and scratching along the larger surfaces. I tried to make the scratches longer and flowing/rounded. I liked this effect quite a bit!

Step 5: Stain
Time: 80 minutes

I applied the stain with a foam brush or the regular paint brush- the foam brush was really nice because it didn't drip as much as the paint brush which is great, but I only had a very small foam brush so it was a bit slower. Then I took my cut up old t-shirt and wiped the excess stain off. SO PRETTY!

This takes a while to dry so I moved the furniture prior to staining to the very front of my garage so that the sun would help dry it (and the wind), but so that if it rained I didn't need to move it at all. I can just close the garage door.

After Staining

Step 6: Wipe On Poly 
Time: 20 minutes

I just did one coat with my staining pad because this isn't going to need as much protection as a table would. I hope. Don't put too much on because it'll take off your stain. I just ran over it all quick with the staining pad. I recommend wearing gloves for this because it soaks through the pad. It's a pain to get off (liberal amounts of vegetable oil and blue dawn worked for me).

I read that you're supposed to lightly sand after coat #1 before putting on additional layers. If you do, you'll need to buy some sanding paper with a high number grit (300s if I recall). I didn't notice bubbles on mine though so I don't know if its necessary.

Step 7: Reinstall Hardware 
Time: 10 minutes

Just put all of your hardware back on and put the drawers back in once you move the bureau where you want it. And you're finished!

Finished Product

I love it! I can't even begin to explain how excited I am about this particular DIY project... I may have to distress everything in sight now... haha.

Total time spent: 565 minutes (9 hours, 25 minutes if my math is right)
Total Cost: $161.62

Worth every dime and every minute. Next time I'm gonna try without the initial sanding though because that'd save a lot of time if it works. Note that I have enough of all of my supplies to do at least two or three more pieces... with the sanding paper likely to be the first to run out. I have tons of paint, stain, and poly left.

My one recommendation that I wish I could have given myself is to not cut corners... tape off areas you don't want to accidentally paint or stain, and paint, distress, and stain EVERYTHING that will be showing. I should have investigated further before doing this, but I didn't do the inside of those doors and I wish I had. For my personal use it's really fine, but I imagine a piece like this might have some decent resale value in the distant future if I'd bothered doing that.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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DIY Danielle: First Time Distressing...
First Time Distressing...
DIY Danielle
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