Rub-Through Distressed Solid Finish Ideas

Antiqued rub-through furniture finishes are more art than science. Here are two takes on getting it done. March 9, 2010

I building some tables that I want to put an old-looking paint finish on. What would you suggest for a worn finish look in a light color, like white or off-white? I'm thinking of either rubbed through milk paint with some glazing and maybe a topcoat, or an oil paint finish with glazing. What have you used (materials and steps, please) that has given you a good look?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor J:
1. Stain.
2. White pre-cat 2x.
3. Scuff 280
4. Sand thru distressing with 220.
5. File/nail/frosting punch/etc distressing.
6. Burnt umber glaze.
7. Pre-cat clear seal.
8. 150 sandpaper etching, worm holes.

9. VBD glaze left to dry on the surface.
10. Burnish with tight rag ball moistened with VM&P.
11.Pre-cat topcoat dull.

From contributor A:
Your finish schedule there looks labor intensive - what would you charge for such a piece of craftsmanship?

From contributor J:
We've done this over maple and cherry in a clear version as well. Just substitute clear seal coats for the pigmented ones. It is a little of a specialty finish, not a shoot-and-scoot. I recently did a sideboard (two doors, five drawers) in the pigmented, stripping 280, finishing 1720, door to door. The piece capped off a tuscany theme the designer had going in the room, so little haggling on price.

From contributor B:
The easy way to get the look you’re going for is tint vinyl sealer to the color you want, spray it on after it dries, distress with a rag and some thinner, then topcoat with clear (make sure you do a test sample first). I did a bar that I coated with red, green, and black, and after drying I rubbed through with a soft cloth and thinner then coated with dull finish.