Thursday, May 3, 2012

In Distress

So your building that turn of the century nursery for your zombie babies or maybe a neglected old school room with some wood desks for your zombie students, or you just want to "Halloween-up" some household furniture. It can't be all bright and shiny, Halloween means all old and distressed looking, right? Distressed equals creepy!

I had to build some small countdown blocks for my advent Hearse so I could countdown 'til Halloween in style, and thought I'd share how I distress paint wood. Admittedly this is pretty small scale but it looks really good on big stuff too. I apologize if this is too simple for some of you crafters. I've seen some of you doing the scrapbook paper thing  on wood and it's pretty dang amazing! I think I'd have to turn in my "Man Card" if I start scrap-booking though.

While I was doing these little blocks I thought that it would be cool to make some of those old wooden alphabet blocks out of a 4x4 piece of lumber, and then distress them with some flat dull colors. We don't do any baby zombies though, maybe someone else will do some for their Halloween haunted house. For me, it's all in the little details.

I'm using new unfinished wood and I always like to sand it then prep it with some Kilz wood primer. Very lightly sand the roughness of the Kilz primer if you like.

Prime wood to seal and it takes less layers of paint to get good coverage
 Paint your base color first, usually this is the lighter or brighter color. I'm doing a Halloweeny thing with orange as my base. It's not essential, but try to use flat paint on the base color. Flat paint is important on the top color later. You need at least two completely dry thorough coats of base.

Next is the important part. Spray your project with flat clear spray lacquer. Two or three coats would be good but one will work in a pinch. This is the layer(s) that helps prevent you from sanding through your base color back into the wood. If you used gloss or semi gloss paint on your base it will dull that sheen down a bit too.

Once that is dry paint your top coat, just one coat is all that is necessary. Too heavy or too many layers and it takes a lot of sanding to get back to your base color. I painted  these flat black for my top layer.

You can see my orange base color peeking through the black coat on the right. That's good though, less sanding required to get the orange to show through.
 Finally, sand paper to taste using a high grit sandpaper. I think I used 400 grit on these. I've also used 220 grit before. These aren't the colors you would use for the "aged" distressed look obviously. I'd probably go with dark brown as my base and flat black top, or dark green as the base and grey or black top coat. If you were aging some child's toys though you would probably want bright colors as a base. Be careful sanding around the sharp edges.

You can see the white primer started to peak through the edges letting me know I sanded to much. I kind of liked  it though, so I left it.
 I was using bright numbers on my countdown blocks Once I got them glued on I used my clear flat lacquer again as a finish coat.

Anyone have a different technique, I'd love to hear it!



  1. Oh wow! These are too cute! Me wanteee!

  2. That looks wicked! Great job man!

  3. I love how this technique looks Mark! It has a very "authentic" look of age and wear to it. My mind just started buzzing with ideas to use this finish on.

    I can't wait to see your Advent Hearse!

  4. Oh, they came out beautifully! Great job!!

  5. I love how they turned out. Thanks for sharing your tips:)