How to Distress Cabinets

Home improvement stores and specialty cabinet makers sell distressed cabinets, complete with worn edges and other damage that gives the cabinets a rustic look.

Distress your wood cabinets for a new and vintage look.Distress your wood cabinets for a new and vintage look.
These cabinets add to the style of a farmhouse, country kitchen or even a lodge style kitchen. The problem is that the cabinets are fairly expensive and may be out of your price range. Provided you have wood cabinets in your kitchen already, you can distress the wood and get the same look at a much lower cost.

Unscrew the hinges from each cabinet door, placing the screws and hinges in a safe location where you won't lose them. Pull the cabinet doors away from the cabinets and place those on old newspaper, spread across the floor.

Chisel the edges of the cabinet doors, holding the chisel at an angle and then hitting it lightly with a hammer. Repeat the same thing on the edges and faces of the cabinet doors, creating the look of wear and tear. Do the same thing on the cabinets.

Rub the fine grade sandpaper all over the cabinets and the cabinet doors. Rub more sandpaper over the edges and corners of the doors, focusing on the places you chiseled. Roughen the cabinets and cabinet doors with the sandpaper.

Apply a thin layer of colored paint on both the cabinets and cabinet doors, using a paintbrush for a choppy and uneven look. Once the paint dries, rub sandpaper over the surface and then add another coat of paint, to get an uneven and splotchy look.

Paint the cabinets and cabinet doors with white paint, using a paint roller for a smoother look. After the first coat dries, rub sandpaper over the cabinets and then add a second coat of paint. Add a coat of clear sealant to keep the paint from peeling and screw the doors back onto the cabinets.

Things You Will Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Old newspaper
  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Fine grade sandpaper
  • Colored paint
  • Paintbrush
  • White paint
  • Paint roller
  • Clear sealant

Tip

  • Use different tools to create a distressed look on the cabinets, including heavy chains, metal padlocks and other heavy objects. Place the object on the cabinet and hit it with your hammer.

About the Author

Jennifer Eblin has been a full-time freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared on several websites, including Tool Box Tales and Zonder. Eblin received a master's degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.