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How To Make Latex Painted Furniture Look Old And Worn

I painted this chest of drawers about 6 weeks ago and just now got everything together for this post. It’s been a lazy Summer around here or a busy Summer depending on how you look at it. I  chose off-white latex paint for the chest then distressed the paint and applied a light coat of wax to the distressed wood.


old chest of drawers to be painted

I bought the chest of drawers from an online auction, and I believe the price was somewhere between $75 and $85. It’s not a steal, but it’s an okay deal.

This piece had the full set of French Provincial drawer pulls. Not one is missing. It’s always nice when all of the original furniture hardware is intact.

how to remove veneer

The top of the chest of drawers was a mess. The veneer was missing……mostly. Where the veneer had peeled off, there were still bits and pieces of wood and glue. I was able to scrape a lot of it off with a putty knife then I used a sander to smooth the rest of the area. (photos 1 and 3)

The detail piece on the back of the top still had the veneer under it. I pulled that detail piece up and peeled the remaining veneer off. (photos 2, 4, 5) Then I nailed the piece back in place.

reparing loose veneer on a furniture drawer

There was a bit of loose veneer on one drawer front. Using a toothpick, I put wood glue between the veneer and the drawer front. Then I found a short piece of wood and placed it flat against the glued area, holding it tight with clamps.

I learned this trick from the hubby. The piece of wood holds down the whole glued area and I don’t have to use 10 clamps, lol.


prepping furniture for painting

I remove all furniture pulls and hardware before painting a piece of furniture. I also clean the piece inside and out first using a vacuum cleaner then Simple Green on all surfaces. TIP: Cover the drawer pull screw holes with painter’s tape on the inside of the drawer. This keeps paint from leaking inside the drawer.


Behr paint custom color from Petticoat Junktion

I chose a custom mixed off-white paint for the chest. I really like the Behr Scuff Defense Paint. It sticks like glue!

painting furniture

When I started painting the first drawer front, I noticed how much gunk was still on the drawer where a small strip of molding was missing.

removing detailed wood trim from old furniture

So, I removed the remaining molding on the other drawer fronts, then….

how to sand furniture before painting

I distressed the areas where the molding strips were removed, and I also sanded over the gunky area on the first painted drawer front to smooth it out before applying another coat of paint.

painting wood furniture

I started painting the top of the chest when I ran into another problem.

holes in wood furniture

I really thought those two holes would be okay because you guys know how I like rough or detailed surfaces when distressing paint. But these holes were just too big and obvious.

how to putty holes in furniture

I pulled out my wood putty and filled the holes. Once the putty dried, I sanded it level with the surface around it.

how to use furniture wax on distressed paint

To distress the paint, I first started sanding by hand with a small piece of sandpaper. Well, as I mentioned earlier, that scuff defense paint really sticks. I pulled out my battery powered sander and distressing the paint was much easier.

After I distressed the paint, I used Howard’s Wax, a neutral color, to get rid of the raw wood look caused by sanding. I rub the wax on the wood areas using a lint-free rag.

painted and distressed with one leg waxed and and one leg not waxed

I took photos of both front legs so you can see how the wax makes a big difference. The photo on the left shows how the wood looks after distressing. The photo on the right shows how the wood looks after a coat of Howard’s wax. The wood now has a deep color and a more natural look. (find the wax here on Amazon)

how to paint French Provincial Drawer Pulls

It took a while and a few changes before I figured out the perfect color for the drawer pulls. I first painted them light brown so they would stand out against the painted chest.

I put one of the pulls on the chest and didn’t like it at all. Next, I painted over the brownish paint with the same paint I used on the chest. Then I distressed the paint lightly.

how to paint French Provincial drawer pulls white with latex paint (2)

That seemed to be the best paint finish for the pulls. You can see the French Provincial pulls are all distressed differently, so they are not matchy-matchy and are not fake-looking.

How To Make Latex Painted Furniture Look Old And Worn
How To Make Latex Painted Furniture Look Old And Worn

I’m really happy with the way the chest of drawers looks now. I’m glad I finally got this one ready to post. It takes a while to take the photos, edit them, and write the blog post.

The distressed paint gives the chest of drawers depth and character.

how to distress white paint with a power sander

The raised detailed wood pieces really shine with that wax coating.

Read all about distressing paint here…..What You Should Know About Distressing Painted Furniture And Home Decor

before and after painted furniture chest of drawers or dresserThanks for being here, and if you have time, leave a short note telling me what you think of this makeover. Kathy

Author: Kathy Owen
Kathy Owen is the founder of the home decor blog Petticoat Junktion where she shares tutorials on painting furniture and upcycling thrifty finds into unique home décor. Her DIY projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Kathy’s newest website is HappyHomeDIY.com

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  1. I really love the chest!! So beautiful, I always watch your blog, I can never find pieces like u do. .ur the best..thank you

  2. Kathy,

    I use the same method when gluing (clamping). BUT! I coat my scrap wood with painter’s tape to make sure the scrap doesn’t accidentally get attached to the repair. 🙂

    I love, love, love the new look of this dresser.

  3. Love the new look for the chest! Thanks for all the tips – saving this one for reference!!

  4. I have used latex paint for ever to paint furniture.
    It was what I always had around. Long before all the chalk type paints were around. It is still my favorite.