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How to Give Wood an Antique Look

If your dream of owning handcrafted furniture is a little out of your budget, this guide will help you give any wood item an antique faux finish for that old-world charm.


  • Step 1: Sand the wood Sand the wood to allow the paint to stick. Use a fine-grit sandpaper. Smooth corners and uneven areas to create a distressed look.
  • TIP: Use an electric sander to make the process easier.
  • Step 2: Add marks Add dents and scratches using a hammer, screwdriver, and chisel to give the wood character and add an illusion of wear and tear.
  • Step 3: Start with a dark base color Use a paintbrush to apply a dark base color sparingly and in a sporadic pattern to convey aging and time-induced water damage. Wipe away any excess paint before it dries.
  • TIP: The dark base shouldn't cover the wood completely -- just hit the high areas that would see the most damage.
  • Step 4: Apply your main color Apply your main paint color from the top of the wood toward the bottom. Allow the brush to run dry to create a worn appearance. Use a rag to remove excess paint before it dries.
  • Step 5: Apply a crackle medium Apply a crackle medium sparingly over the areas that would naturally see sun or water damage. Paint over the dried crackle and allow the paint to chip and crack.
  • Step 6: Leave it natural Leave the wood unfinished or protect it with a satin or flat finish to give it a muted, antique appearance. Display your newly aged furniture for friends and family to gawk at in wonder.
  • FACT: The office desk of the President of the United States was carved out of wood from the HMS Resolute, a British ship, and was presented to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880 by Queen Victoria.

You Will Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Chisel
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Rag
  • Crackle medium
  • Flat or satin finish
  • Electric sander (optional)

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