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How to Distress a Painted Surface

Learn how to distress a surface from decorative artist Aliya Riaz in this Howcast painting tutorial.


In this segment of 'Decorative Painting Techniques' we're going to be looking at distressing a surface. It could be wood, it could be fiberboard, anything that you are actually working on. A lot of these techniques are used when cabinetry is being painted so you'll find it on armoires, you'll find it on kitchen cabinetry. And this is wood and you can do it on MDF as well, but what I did in the first instance was I primed the piece of wood and then I put a very deep blue color as my base coat and then covered it with a creamy white.

So what we're planning to do today is to distress back to the blue color. So I'm using just a very simple scrubby brush and you just have to very gently rub back to the blue. And the key to distressing is always it rubbing off in areas which would come into contact with the use, so that, let's say this was a floorboard lying on the floor, these are the places that possibly would get scuffed, especially the protruding pieces of the molding. So then randomly show off the blue, and if you want just a little bit here and there, not too much. Because good things happen in time. You have to be patient and hopefully the patience is then rewarded.

And that is basically something that I think is a very subtle distressing technique. You can go all out and really distress so much more here, but it really depends on the look you're after. So that, in a nutshell, is distressing techniques over a surface.

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