How to Make Paint Look Rustic

Painting is a great way to make a wall or piece of furniture look clean and new. However, in certain cases, it may be desirable to give the paint a weathered, rustic finish. A rustic look can add visual interest to a shelf or dresser, make a new piece of furniture look more like an antique or help tie together a pastoral decorating scheme. Fortunately, giving a new paint job that lived-in look is easy with a little planning.

Step 1

Clean the surface you are glazing with a furniture cleaner or a mixture of dishwashing soap and water.  Allow to dry for 24 hours.

Step 2

Gently sand the painted surface with fine-grained sandpaper, 280 or higher.  The objective is to scuff the surface of the paint rather than sand it away entirely, so don't rub too hard. Wipe down the surface with a tack cloth to remove the sanding dust. 

Step 3

Apply antiquing glaze to a small area (about as much as you can cover in one minute), using a natural-fiber brush.  The glaze will be shiny when it is applied but begin to dull as it dries. As soon as it begins to dull, gently wipe away the glaze with a lint-free wiping cloth.  This will remove the glaze from raised, smooth areas but allow it to remain in scratches, cracks and imperfections. Repeat as desired for a more pronounced look. 

Things You Will Need

  • Fine-grained sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Antiquing glaze
  • Natural-fiber brush
  • Wiping cloths


  • Antiquing glaze is available in many colors. Apply a dark brown or black glaze to mimic the look of natural weathering, or choose a glaze color to complement or contrast with your existing paint color for a more dramatic effect.
  • Use solid lines of glaze to highlight detail work on furniture. Apply a thin layer of glaze in the bottom of a groove or notch and allow it to dry without wiping it away.


  • Antiquing glaze is compatible with most paint finishes, but may peel up from extremely glossy surfaces. When in doubt, test in an inconspicuous area and use a chemical deglosser if necessary.

Photo Credits

  • Pamela Follett/Demand Media
  • Pamela Follett/Demand Media
  • Pamela Follett/Demand Media
  • Pamela Follett/Demand Media