How Do You Paint A White Distressed Look?

If you love the look of furniture and walls that have a distressed character, you don’t need to go to the trouble of scouring vintage stores for rustic finds that look as though they have a bit of history – because you can easily achieve the same look by yourself at home.

Whether you want to create a rustic white feature wall, or you simply want to transform a piece of furniture with a patina twist, then we’re sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised to hear that the process required to do so is easy enough for even beginners.

For most of these types of projects, all you will need is some sandpaper, paint and a paintbrush or two to bring your rustic dreams to life. Follow the steps below to paint a white distressed look:

How Do You Paint A White Distressed Look


The first thing you should do when planning to create a distressed look (regardless of whether you’re painting a wall or item of furniture) is to prepare the area in which the painting will be taking place.

Carefully lay down bin liners and old sheets to keep all of your stationery furniture and floors safe, while taking the time to remove any ornaments and decorative pieces into another room so that you don’t splatter any paint on them.

After doing that, you should then be sure to change into some old clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty – because there’s a strong chance you’re going to get messy!

Sand and Clean

After you have prepared the space and you’ve got your old clothes on, the next step will be to sand and clean either the wall or piece of furniture that you have chosen to distress.

Sanding will allow you to prepare the surface ready for the paint and will ensure that there are no bumps or unevenness. In addition to that, you should also be sure to wipe the surface down, so that there are no stains.


With your white latex paint, you will now be able to begin painting the surface.

You will likely need to paint 3-4 layers to ensure a uniform and consistent paint job but, thanks to the quick-drying nature of latex paint, you won’t find that you have to wait too long in-between painting the layers.

Keep in mind, besides sanding, it may also be worth preparing the surface with a paint primer, as it will help to enhance the adhesion of paint to the surface, while also helping to add extra durability once it has finished drying.

Distress with sandpaper

Once you have allowed the paint to fully dry and you are happy with the finish, the next step will be to begin distressing your painted wall or chosen piece of furniture! Take the same piece of sandpaper that you used to prepare the surface and begin removing parts of the paint.

If you want an intense distressed look, then you can even take some steel wool and scrub certain areas to reveal the foundation color.

For the best results, you should focus your attention in the corners of the wall or furniture, and chip away the paint slowly so that you can build it up to your desired look.

Then, once you are happy with the way that it looks, gently brush away any chipped paint from the distressing with a cloth, and then you can go ahead and apply the finish to lock it all in.

How do you paint white rustic?

If you love the farmhouse aesthetic, then the good news is that achieving a white rustic finish across surfaces such as wood couldn’t be easier to achieve! Just check out the following technique:

The paint and drag technique:

  1. Prepare the area that you are going to be painting in by lining the floor with old sheets, so that you do not get any paint-splattered anywhere you don’t want it to be! While you’re at it, change into some clothes that you don’t mind getting covered in paint and potentially ruined.
  1. Gently sand the surface that you are going to paint so that the paint will be able to apply more consistently, keeping in mind that small imperfections and bumps are not necessarily a bad thing in this instance, as you are purposefully going for a slightly imperfect appearance anyway.
  1. When you’re ready to begin painting, take some white paint onto your brush and drop a bead directly onto your wood plank, piece of furniture, or wall that you are painting a white rustic design onto.
  1. Immediately after you have dropped the paint onto the surface, take a scraper and drag the paint around the surface to fill in the grooves and bumps. Repeat until you are happy with the finish. As a side note, white rustic designs work the best with surfaces that naturally have grooves across its surface, such as wood.

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