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How to Make Old Cabinets Look New by Making Them Look Old

If you’ve paid attention to interior design at all in the last few years, you will have noticed the increased focus on distressed wood. Distressed wood is wood that looks as if it has been aged and weathered. Often, it will develop a patina of age that comes from years of moisture and handling that leads to uneven paint. Furthermore, paint will often chip and flake. The wood might bear scars and dings from years of use. When this occurs naturally, the wood is aged or antique. When it is done artificially, it is typically known as distressed. If you want to make your old cabinets look new and trendy, you should consider distressing them. One of the benefits of distressing your cabinets is that you can’t mess it up; the idea is to mess up your cabinets.

1 – Remove the Cabinets

You should remove the cabinet doors and take them outside. Prepare them to be distressed by cleaning them with a mild detergent and a cloth. If they’re exceptionally dirty, you might need to brush them.

2 – Paint Stripper

Paint stripper will remove paint from almost any surface. To remove all of the paint from the wood, you can apply an even coat of stripper according to the directions. Follow the instructions on the packaging to do it safely. Be careful with stripper; it is generally very caustic. If you want to distress the paint but leave some in place, apply the stripper deliberately unevenly. You might also want to remove it sooner than the packaging suggests. That will remove lots of paint but likely leave traces of it in spots.

3 – Wire Brush

A wire brush is a great way to distress your cabinets. Running the wire brush over the cabinets will scratch and scar the wood. It will also remove some of the paint but leave it in the places between the bristles.

4 – Sander

A sander is another great way to remove paint and distress wood. A very coarse grit sandpaper will remove a lot of paint and wood. Make sure not to remove too much from the edges of the cabinet door or else it will no longer fit properly.

Once you’ve done all of these things, you can seal your cabinets with a polyurethane or a coat of varnish if you want to preserve the finish. You could also leave them unsealed and watch as they continue to weather.


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