Welcome to part two of the painted bar stool tutorial. In case you missed it, or just for future reference, you can find part one HERE. In part two, I’m going to share how the do the distressing and finishing to achieve the final look…
We’ll also chat about the kind of sand paper I use for distressing.
So, I painted the bar stool in two coats of MMS Milk Paint in French Enamel (with the bonding agent added) and let it dry overnight. I didn’t have to let it dry that long, but that’s just how it worked out. You can start distressing once the paint is dry to the touch.
I prefer to distress most pieces by hand. Sometimes I’ll hit a piece hard with the orbital sander, but it’s harder to control, especially on a piece with lots of corners and edges. The orbital sander is really best for large, flat surfaces. I wanted a scratchy, pretty heavy distressing, so I used 100 grit sand paper and rubbed it over the bar stool applying a moderate amount of pressure.
When distressing, I always focus my attention on the edges…where natural wear and tear happens to paint. You rarely see a huge paint bald spot in the middle of a piece of furniture naturally, so to make the distressing look authentic, stick to the edges, high points and places where a piece would often be touched or rubbed (like around a handle or the arms of a chair where hands would rest.)
I rubbed the sand paper over the seat of the chair, allowing the paint to wear from the high points where the chair curves to make a slight saddle. I also focused attention along the front of the chair where legs would rub.
Places that would receive heavy wear were distressed down to the bare wood.
As I distress a piece of furniture, I step back a few times to make sure I’m achieving the look I want. Sometimes it’s hard to see the overall look when you’re 10″ away.
Once I was satisfied with the look, I wiped away the dust with a cotton cloth. Sometimes I use the shop vac, too. I then applied a coat of MMS Antiquing Wax directly to the paint. I wanted to tone down the brightness of the color and add some richness to the exposed raw wood, so I didn’t need to seal it with Furniture Wax first.
I brush it on in small sections, then wipe off the excess and lightly buff it with a cotton cloth. I continue around the chair, working the wax into all of the nooks, crannies, crevices and corners.
Once the entire chair was waxed and the excess was wiped away, I went back over the everything with a cotton cloth for one final buffing. The nice thing about wax is that it dries to the touch almost immediately. I carried the bar stool upstairs and we started using it right away. It may be very slightly “waxy” for a few days, but it’s fine to use.
You can purchase MMS Milk Paint and the Antiquing Wax at a local retailer (find a list HERE) or ONLINE. And did you know we have retailers all over the world? In Canada, the UK. Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland and all over the US. We do have retailers who ship internationally to Australia & New Zealand as well. It’s pretty amazing how much we’ve grown in under a year.
By the way, I bought these bar stools on clearance at Target about six years ago. They retired the style, but they still carry a similar style HERE and I have seen them in the stools.
While we’re talking about distressing, I would I would give a quick 101 on sand paper and which to use to get the look you want. There’s an entire world of sand paper and sanding products for stripping, finishing, refinishing, etc., but we’re just going to talk about using it for distressing.
The lower the grit number, the rougher it is. This is 40 grit paper and it’s super chunky. You’ll want to pull this out when you want a heavily scratched finish and want to pull a lot of paint off.
There are several grits in between, but we’ll skip to 100. It’s the grit I use most often for distressing. It’s rough enough to make some scratches and pull off some paint without a ton of pressure, but it’s not too harsh.
I’ll often follow up the 100 grit with some 180 or 200, which is fine/very fine. Using a fine paper will lightly wear or rub off the paint, showing the small nuances, dings, dents and scratches in a finish. I use this paper on it’s own when I want a soft distress or as the last step to reduce some of the scratchiness or harshness that was created by a heavier grit.
I would encourage you to experiment with different grits to find the combination you like! Distressing is definitely an art, but I believe it’s something that can be learned and perfected. It just takes some practice and the best way to practice is to do! So, go for it!