Distressed Look Finish – Glossary of Terms

This glossary provides a comprehensive understanding of the terms and techniques associated with distressed look finishes. By familiarising yourself with these terms, you can better appreciate the artistry involved in creating beautifully aged and character-filled furniture. For expert distressed finishes and other restoration services, visit Simons Staircases and Furniture.
Distressed Look


  • Antiquing: A technique used to give furniture an aged appearance by applying a glaze or stain to highlight details and crevices.


  • Base Coat: The initial layer of paint or stain applied to furniture, which will be partially revealed through the distressing process.
  • Brush Marks: Visible strokes left by a paintbrush, which can be intentionally created to add texture to a distressed finish.


  • Chalk Paint: A type of paint commonly used in distressing due to its matte finish and ease of sanding to achieve a weathered look.
  • Crackle Finish: A technique that creates a cracked, aged appearance on the surface of furniture by using a crackle medium between paint layers.


  • Dry Brushing: A painting technique where a dry brush is lightly dipped in paint and then brushed off, leaving minimal paint on the brush to create a streaky, worn effect.


  • Finishing Coat: The final protective layer applied to the distressed furniture to seal and protect the surface, often a wax, lacquer, or polyurethane.


  • Glazing: Applying a thin, translucent layer of paint or stain over a base coat to add depth and highlight details.


  • Layering: The process of applying multiple coats of paint or stain in different colours to create depth and dimension in the distressed finish.


  • Patina: The natural ageing process that gives furniture and other surfaces a distinctive character over time. Distressing techniques often mimic this look.
  • Polyurethane: A durable finish applied to distressed furniture to protect the surface and enhance its longevity.


  • Sanding: A technique used to wear away areas of paint or finish, exposing the layers beneath and creating a weathered look.
  • Scraping: Using tools to scrape off areas of paint, adding to the distressed appearance by revealing the base coat or raw wood underneath.
  • Sealing: The process of applying a protective topcoat to distressed furniture to preserve the finish and protect it from wear and tear.
  • Stain: A type of finish that penetrates the wood, enhancing its natural grain and adding colour. Stains can be used as a base or top coat in distressed finishes.


  • Top Coat: The final layer of paint or stain applied over the base coat, which will be partially removed or altered during the distressing process.


  • Upcycling: The process of transforming old or discarded furniture into something new and valuable through techniques like distressing.


  • Vintage: Refers to furniture and décor that are reminiscent of a past era. Distressed finishes often aim to replicate the look of vintage pieces.


  • Wax Finish: A protective coating is applied to distressed furniture to seal the surface and add a soft sheen. Wax finishes can be clear or tinted to add depth.
  • Weathered Look: A style that mimics the natural wear and tear of furniture exposed to the elements over time. Distressing techniques often aim to achieve this appearance.

Glossary Terms


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