Ah, the dresser. I have learned how to antique! Cross your fingers that it looks good in the end. I had a lot of help from the blogosphere on this one and it's helped that I have painted furniture before. So, here is the run down.
How to Distress and Antique a Dresser
1. Sand your furniture. You do not need to strip it, just rough it up. I sanded enough to get most of the shiny finish off with a medium grit paper. This took about 2 hours with the help of the husband.
2. Prime your pieces. We used the Rustoleum spray primer. I LOVE spray. We needed 2 cans. The key is to lightly apply the primer in even strokes. We have no garage so we set up the drawers on a big box in the yard and used a card board strip to keep the primer from flying. I bought masks to wear but husband decided pregnant wife should NOT be painting. It's very frusterating to do a DIY when I can't do much of it.
3. Apply a second coat of primer
4. Apply 2 coats of paint waiting 20-30 minutes between each coat. Again, I used a spray paint in satin white. NOT FLAT. Someone mentioned it would absorb too much stain and with the amount of stain the satin absorbed, I would agree. Now, I waited only 30 minutes before putting the stain on but I would give the paint at least another hour to dry a little more.
5. Distress the wood. This was way easier then I thought it would be. I took some leftover sand paper and scuffed up the corners and edges of each drawer and around the top of my cabinet. I didn't want the whole thing to look beat up, just lightly aged so I only did most corners and edges in various degrees. It took a total of 10 minutes.
Notice how I only distressed a little bit on the corners and edges
6. Stain and wipe. We are not painting experts but I think the product turned out ok. I think some of the blotchiness we got was due more to the paint not being 100% dry first than any staining technique. We chose a very small can of walnut wood stain. Brush it on very lightly, it's runny! Then wipe it off. We did this on a warm day so we gave it almost no time to sit and it still turned out a little darker than I want. So literally brush on and wipe off. Wipe EVERYTHING off that you can. We needed a lot of rags for this part. I had 6 and we still needed to run and rip up a shirt but that didn't work nearly as well as the rags. I stepped in at this point because the stain really stands out and I wanted a very even look. It says to let the stain dry for 8 hours which is why the dresser will not be finished tonight.
This is the difference between stained and not stained.
7. Wax on - Wax off. Husband took full control of this one. The wax is pretty toxic which is another reason the dresser will not be done tonight. This needs to be very dry before we bring it into the house. We decided to go with the wax instead of a polyurethane finish mainly because of a beautiful example of this project I found. They used a wax and it gave it just a beautiful finish. I am reserving the polyurethane just in case I need it on the top. I've never used wax so I don't know how it holds up. We did find a useful clip about waxing here. She reminded me (ok, I had no idea) that while it doesn't take a long time for it to dry, it does take 21 days to cure. So I will post some staging pix tomorrow, but then I will let the dresser be for a few weeks before I set anything on it. Glad we are doing this way ahead of time! I saw that you can get some waxes tinted and I wonder if you could skip the staining step if you had a tinted wax?
8. Hardware. I love our hardware so I am not changing a thing about them. Just screw them back in when finished. Voila! Finished.
Here are the products we used: