How to “Antique” Furniture

If you’re like me, you have a collection of old furniture that you bought from a garage sale or second hand store that you just knew would be perfect in your house, if only it didn’t have that ugly finish. Instead of letting it collect dust in the garage or basement, waiting patiently to someday be transform, pull it out and antique it.


  • Paint
  • Water-based Polyurethane
  • Disposable Gloves


  • Paint Roller / Brush
  • Paint Storage / Mixing Container

Antiquing is a DIY faux-painting technique that gives furniture an aged or antique appearance. And all it takes is a base coat of paint and some glaze. So find a dresser, table, cabinet, door trim or any accessory you want to give that vintage look, and let’s get started.

Step 1: Choose Your Glaze or Paint

Antiquing is usually done with darker, earth-toned glazes layered over a contrasting light-colored basecoat such as yellows, creams or beiges. But you can always pair it with a dark base coat. Just remember that the two colors need  to contrast. Follow your gut here. If your table wants to be a peacock blue or canary yellow…do it!

Helpful tip: Use a flat finish for your basecoat. A porous finish absorbs glaze better than the satin or eggshell varieties. For your glaze mixture, use a satin finish in the contrasting color.

Step 2: Prepare Surfaces  

Find a workspace that provides plenty of air circulation. Want to be meticulous about this (I won’t judge)?

Unfinished surfaces – Begin by removing all hardware and sand un-finished surfaces with medium-grit sandpaper until it is smooth, then clean with paint thinner or mineral spirits and allow to dry.

Painted surfaces – Sand with a fine sandpaper to remove any glossy areas and then clean with water and a mild detergent. Rinse thoroughly and allow the surface to dry completely. Make sure you prime any bare surfaces, or choose a paint with primer in it. A drop cloth is always handy in this situation.

Safety Alerts!

Keep all paints, chemicals and equipment away from children and pets.

Wear gloves to protect your hands and to make cleanup easier.

“Antiquing” is not recommended for actual antique pieces you might own.

Step 3: Paint a Base Color  

Grab a mini roller or paintbrush and apply the basecoat. Give it plenty of time to dry, either several hours or overnight.

Step 4: Apply Glaze  

Once your piece has a base coat on it and is also dry, measure one cup of satin finish paint in the contrasting color and two cups of glaze into your mixing pot and stir. Now add water a little at a time, stirring well. You want the consistency to be a little runny but still adhere to your brush.

Helpful Tips

The proper consistency of the glaze mixture is important — it has to be thin enough to allow the base coat to show through.

If you have a large area to cover, you can double or triple the amounts of the paint and glaze mixture, but it’s easier to work with a small amount at a time and creates less waste.

Brush the paint and glaze mixture on the surface allowing it to collect in the cracks, crevices, and corners. Wait for the mixture to dry a bit — it will begin to dull in appearance. Dampen a piece of lint-free cloth with water and begin wiping off the mixture in long, even strokes, starting at the center and moving out towards the corners. As your cloth becomes too wet, replace it with a new one. You can remove as much or as little glaze as you wish, depending on the effect you’re trying to achieve. If you find you’ve removed too much, just apply more and start again.

For different textures and effects, try using rolled-up plastic wrap, newspaper or cheesecloth to wipe off the glaze. Cheesecloth accentuates the wood grain, while crinkled newspaper and plastic wrap marble the surface. You can use a towel to create a scratched effect. Allow the surface to dry completely.

Helpful Tip: If you want to add even more of a distressed appearance, try wearing down the surface of the wood with sandpaper, shave sharp edges with a knife or poke wormholes into the surface with a nail.

Step 5: Apply Polyurethane

When the glaze mixture has dried completely, use a high-quality brush or high-density foam mini-roller to apply a coat of water-based polyurethane to add extra shine and durability. Polyurethane comes in different sheens, so you”ll need to decide how shiny you want your piece to look when it’s done; Let the polyurethane dry completely before moving the piece to its rightful place in your home.

Nice work! you’ve added vintage beauty to your home by antiquing your existing furniture and décor, and now you have a piece that looks totally custom. Now sit back, relax and let the compliments come pouring in. Because you know they will.

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