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How To Repaint Furniture And Distress The Paint

Do you guys remember the old rustic bench the JTS bought at an auction a few weeks ago? It was originally painted red, and the red was worn off in places. Well, I repainted the bench, then distressed it lightly so the red could show off.

re-painting an old rustic bench
How to repaint an old rustic bench.

I did the distressing using a power sander, but you can also distress paint using the wet distress method, and I have a video of that for you in this post! There’s not much I like better than white distressed paint. Or maybe I should say off-white. I very seldom use white-white paint. It’s too glaring. 

handmade bench bought at auction

If you missed the earlier post about our auction buys, this piece was $25. I have a thing for benches and cedar chests. I can’t pass them up unless the price is too outrageous.

dirt dauber and wasps nests on furniture

You never know what you will find when you flip over a piece of furniture. Sometimes there are tons of spider eggs, cobwebs, mold and mildew or in this case…….a whole bunch of dirt dauber nests. Thankfully, the dirt daubers were long gone.

old bench with faded paint

I scraped off all the nests with a putty knife and then cleaned the bench with Simple Green.

Beyond Paint

The paint for the project is Beyond All-In-One Paint, color Off-White (or Bone). I like this paint for several reasons. It sticks to just about anything, and as the name says, it has the primer and sealer built into the paint. What I like best about the paint is the sheen. It’s not flat and not satin, somewhere in between.

rustic bench painted white

I applied one coat of paint and didn’t really worry about covering all the dents, dings, and wood knots. When distressing a piece this rustic it’s just a waste of paint. Plus it makes the imperfections and grain of the wood look awesome!

how to distress painted furnitue with a battery powered sander

The paint dries fairly quickly and I used my Ryobi sander to distress the paint. The whole project was finished in 3 or 4 hours. I didn’t really time it.

rustic bench painted white and distressed (8)

The bench is almost 6 feet long. It makes it hard to stage and photograph. I didn’t bother bringing it in the house. The bench went straight to the shop after I took photos.

rustic bench painted white and distressed (9)

Sometimes, after distressing paint of any color or brand, I will apply a coat of wax to darken the wood in the distressed areas. I didn’t apply any wax to the bench.rustic bench painted white and distressed (10)

In some distressed areas, the red paint was easy to see, and in other areas of the bench where the red paint was worn, the wood finish made a showing.

How to repaint furniture

I almost kept the bench; if it doesn’t sell at my booth pretty soon, I may bring it home. What do you guys think? It’s a great space filler and also comes in handy for indoor or outdoor seating.

There are several ways to distress furniture. I like using the wet distress technique because there is no “dust” mess. See my video below on how to wet distress furniture...

How To Wet Distress Furniture
rustic bench painted white and distressed (12)
One last look at the distressed paint. What do you think of the project? Did you like the worn red look of the old rustic bench better?

How to repaint furniture

Leave a note if you have a minute. Tomorrow I have a sweet, easy, inexpensive home decor project. See you then, 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. What a great find! I`m sure it will sell quickly.
    I`m going to try “Beyond Paint”. You`ve had such great results with it, so I`m going to try it!

  2. Thanks for getting back to me. I don’t see many (or any) furniture DIY makeovers talking about lead paint on furniture. Love your projects and glad you are feeling better.

  3. I don’t test for lead paint and in this instance I’m pretty sure the red wasn’t lead paint. It looks older than it is. I’m working on a piece now that I believe is lead based paint and it doesn’t have any loose paint. I am applying primer and paint and will not distress it.

  4. Kathy, this looks old and I’m concerned about lead paint on older furniture. I have a children’s table and 2 chairs and the paint is chipping away badly. I love the look but don’t think it will sell in this condition. So, do you test for lead or what? I love your bench and my table set is the same primitive style. You should bring it home! Thanks

  5. Hi Cecilia. If you have an ad blocker on your browser you need to disable it to see the video. If that isn’t the problem then I’m not sure. I am using Chrome browser and I see the video. Hope this helps. If not email me with more info at kathy@petticoatjunktion.com

  6. I can not find the video on “wet distressing” as you said it is at the bottom. I have an 83 inch bench I would like to redo for my farm table.

  7. I think you did a great job. Where do you buy the paint that you used? I’d like to try it.

  8. Love it … sometimes less is more and this is a great example! Now I have to look up “dirt dauber”!