Distressed Cabinet Doors: Tips to Achieve This Antiquing Effect

by Debra That Painter Lady Conrad

Achieving an aged and distressed look on wooden items can be useful for dcor that features antiques, a rustic cottage look or one that cultivates the aura of ‘shabby chic’. Distressing wooden doors – on kitchen cabinets, bedroom cupboards or indeed storage units elsewhere in the home – is a way of adding interest to a bland piece of furniture. Several faux painting techniques can assist you in creating a distressed appearance on cabinet doors.

Distressing Techniques

You could give your cabinet doors a managed beating with hammer and chisel to create texture and interest. This will certainly distress your door, but with faux painting techniques you can choose amongst several aged or antique looks and achieve a total finish.

The appearance of age is based on simulating patina. Texture is created when the original color of the wood shows through the faux patination. On top of a base coat another color is applied. Scraping through the wet topcoat to reveal the color beneath creates an impression of depth and hence age. Dragging or combing are two techniques for removing the top layer of wet paint, with different implements producing different textures. Applying paint with a fine brush can also create the effect, but is a more demanding way to achieve the distressed look.

Because the principle of distressing is based on a simulated patina, the base coat will be a lighter color than the faux patinated layer. Shades of brown are obvious choices, but you can use other colors (such as brown and gray) to create different effects and degrees of contrast.

Distressing With Wax:

One of the most popular methods entails using wax to ensure that the base paint layer is exposed. Beeswax is especially suitable though candle and other waxes can be used. The wax is applied in streaks and/or patches and allowed to dry before the second coat is applied. When dry the door is then sanded down. Paint applied on top of the wax comes off easily, exposing the undercoat. Depending on how vigorously you sand, a textured effect with clean ‘wood’ showing through the patinated surface will result.

Distressing With Crackle Glaze:

Old varnish dries, crackles and crazes. Crackle glaze simulates this effect, making it look as if your door is far older than it is. You need to use latex paints with the crackle glaze, not oil-based paints, for the crackling to occur. The order of painting is base coat, crackle glaze, top coat.

Pickling :

Pickling is another technique for distressing wooden surfaces such as cabinet doors. It is especially good if the wood you wish to treat is attractive and you don’t necessarily want to cover it up. It simply requires painting your door and then carefully wiping off areas of paint before the layer dries.

Distressing is a relatively uncomplicated way of adding texture and color to a uniform, flat surface, enhancing its visual interest.

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