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Decorative Finishing Tips

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Distressing, Antique Finishes, Crackle, Faux Marble
and More

At Stark Wood Furniture, finishing furniture is an art form – you can create whatever you want. The terms “distressing” and “antiquing” are often used interchangeably in the wood finishing world. These techniques can be used separately or together along with glazing to obtain the degree of “aging” that you desire.

Distressing is a technique of marking the wood to give the character of generations of use. Start by gathering the essentials of character building; hammers, nails, screws, old hardware, literally anything you can pound into the wood that would leave an imprint. Then start hammering away. If it’s been a long week and you need a lift, start a little character therapy project for yourself. Get rid of all that stress and finish a piece of furniture at the same time!  Just remember, distressing is difficult to erase!

Antiquing is another form of distressing using sanding techniques, often followed by glazing to give the appearance of an antique piece of furniture that has been well taken care of over the years but, has slight natural wear and discoloration on the doors, edges, or sides. Corners and other recesses show the remains of an “old” finish while more exposed surfaces seem to have been “worn away” by time and use. This look of aging did not come from time but from a simple finishing technique that, with a little practice, you can master. Besides applying stains and topcoats, this process involves selective sanding of the “base stain” and wiping in of a “top stain,” so it’s best to use scrap wood get a hands-on feel for how the stains will look on the particular wood you’re using.

Glazing is the process of applying a translucent color to the surface, and then rubbing off the excess glaze to create many effects.

Distressing with Milk Paints and Glaze Effects

Apply Glaze Effects over Milk Paints or any of the other Waterbase products to achieve a distressed look. Choose furniture with some character such as raised panel doors or decorative molding. Most pine pieces will work well.

Creating Faux Marble

Creating a marble look on furniture is easy with Milk Paints or Wood Stains. The following are some useful tips to know before you begin. Marbleizing works best on closed grain woods such as pine, maple, birch, aspen, or alder. If you use “open-grain” woods, such as oak, the distinct, visible grain of these woods will show through the background of the marbleizing, and distort the look. Use your imagination! In nature, there are no two pieces of marble exactly alike. If you don’t like the results simply paint over and start again.

General Finishes has tutorials on these and many other decorative finishing techniques.

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