There are many ways to distress wood. This method below is what I have found to be the easiest. Wood projects such as your wood signs, furniture, and other wood projects all need a base coat, and distressed white is a classic look that is super popular now and will be for awhile.
The example I made for this tutorial is a sign made from 1x4s.
- latex paint, acrylic craft paint will also work too!
First I started with my assembled wood sign. Give it a quick sand to knock off any rough spots. The more you sand now the less paint will come off later when you sand. So, if you want a more distressed look, you will not sand a lot before painting. Most of the sanding will be done after you paint.
If you want a slightly distressed look, sand a good amount now until the boards are smooth.
Next step, paint the wood. I am using a latex paint in white.
Latex vs acrylic craft paint: Latex paint has a stronger bond, so less paint will come off when you sand it off.
Craft paint comes off really easily, the bond isn’t that strong. If I want a lot of paint to come off for a really distressed finish, then I use craft paint.
Let the paint dry completely, usually a few hours for latex and one hour for acrylic.
After the paint has dried, it’s time to sand! I am using an orbital sander, which I recommend, with 150 grit sand paper.
The lower the grit number, the larger the grit, which can leave scratches. So I don’t recommend lower than a 120 for this. You can go higher, up to 220 grit to take off less paint too.
Sand until you get the desired look you are after. Be sure to do the corners to make it look natural.
The more you sand, the more of the natural wood that will show through.
This is my favorite look when distressing wood for my projects, not too much, not too little.
Just like a subtle farmhouse look.
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