If you are a creative person and love to try new projects, you will love working with new techniques and trying new challenges.

Upcycling and furniture flips are all the rage and can even be profitable with a bit of talent and hard work. Taking a run-down piece from the past and turning it into a one-of-a-kind project can be as satisfying as any other DIY project you have already tried.

If you want to learn how to create a rustic look for a project that you are working on, just follow our simple instructions below. Using milk paint products and a little creativity and effort you can create your own stunning projects that can become treasured family heirlooms.

Required Materials

The process for creating a rustic look is fairly straightforward and doesn’t require a lot of expensive materials, making it perfect for any size project. Here’s what you will need:

  • Two colors of milk paint. You will want to have a base color that will show through the top color once the distressing has been completed. For a bolder look you can choose contrasting colors and for a more subtle look you can opt for different shades of the same color.
  • Natural bristle brushes produce the best results
  • Bucket filled with warm water
  • A lint free towel or rag
  • Fine grit sandpaper – 120 grit is recommended for most projects
  • Burnishing Paste – Matte or Low Gloss Finish

The Process

Give your piece a full wipe-down to make sure that all residue and dust has been removed from the surface before you begin. Always make sure to apply paint along the lines of the wood grain for the best results. Painting against the grain can result in brush marks being visible.

  • Apply a coat of your base color and let dry for at least two hours.
  • Once dry to the touch, you can begin to lightly sand in the areas where you want to show a worn look. Along the edges and around hardware where normal wear would show is the best place to start. There is no wrong or right amount of distressing, it is entirely up to you how much you want to take off.
  • Apply a thinner second coat of your base color and let dry for a full 8 hours.
  • Apply one coat of your top color and let dry for a full 8 hours. This will give the paint time to properly cure before the next step.
  • Wet your rag and wring out until it is just damp. Use bunched up cloth to rub over the surface in the areas where you want to see the distressing. This will allow you to uncover the base color in a natural way. Remember to focus on the edges, corners and hardware areas of your piece for the most natural look. The paint will begin to thin slightly and allow the base color to show through. How much you take off is up to you.
  • For a rougher, more worn look, you can use your sandpaper to get deeper into the paint layers.
  • Brush on the Burnishing Paste over the entire project to help seal and protect it. There may be a slight darkening to the finished color from the addition of the paste, so choose your colors wisely for the best results.


Tips From The Pros

  • Whenever possible work in natural light or an outdoor setting.
  • Distressing should be focused on areas that would have natural wear and tear for the most authentic look.
  • Use a combination of the rag and your sandpaper to get just the right results.