How to Paint Laminate Furniture to Look Distressed(9 Effortless Steps)

Last Updated on July 23, 2021

Laminate furniture is a good investment for any home. They are inexpensive and quite long-lasting. However, you may not want the laminate furniture at your home due to its cheap appearance and honestly speaking, many homeowners actually reject laminate furniture for the same reason.

One way of removing such a cheap look is by giving the furniture vintage and antique look while painting. If you know how to paint laminate furniture to look distressed, you can quickly achieve such a classic medieval appearance with the furniture.

You have to paint the laminate furniture normally as you would do with any standard furniture. After that, you have to add dings and dents on the laminate surface to give it a distressed vintage look.

How to Paint Laminate Furniture to Look Distressed

Giving a distressed look to laminate furniture is easier than most people actually think. You can easily prepare the furniture for regular painting work and then add the perfect classic old look at the middle of the paintwork. Also, you don’t need any special skills to paint such furniture with a distorted look.

Step 1: Picking the Right Paint

You should use chalky paint whenever you want a distressed look to the wood or laminate furniture. It has an incredible matt finish that elevates the aesthetics of the furniture and room both. Also, chalky paint needs the least preparation.

Nonetheless, note that chalky paint is different from your chalkboard paint. Chalky paint, unlike the chalkboards, brings a brilliant matte finish right from the word go.

Step 2: Preparing the Furniture and Workplace

Place an old rug or plastic underneath the furniture if you’re going to paint it indoors. It will save you from an additional mess. Also, use a screwdriver to remove the handles from the furniture or use masking tape to cover them. It ensures that these handles remain safe and don’t catch any chalky paint.

Step 3: Adding Dings and Dents for The Distressed Look

So, let’s get the facts right here.  You can quickly achieve the distressed look by sanding the furniture roughly after painting. But if you want to take the distorted look a few steps further, adding some dings and dents can be one heck of an idea. Also, it’s fun!

When you add indent marks on the furniture surface and leg, it easily gets that classic old look in no time at all. Just use a chisel or hammer to create some minor indent marks on the furniture leg and other spots.

While creating those marks, work randomly. This way, the markings won’t look intentional.

Step 4: Sand the Furniture Surface and Clean It

Now it’s time to sand the surface. Start with 120-grit sandpaper and mildly roughen the furniture surface. When you will sand and roughen the area, the surface will adhere better with the paint. It ensures that the paint sticks to the surface better and doesn’t peel off soon. So, you will see long-lasting paint.

Nonetheless, you may also use primer spray if you lack patience for sanding the surface with sandpapers. Also, you might avoid the sanding work if the furniture has an unfinished surface as it is ready to adhere to the paint.

Now, use an old piece of rag or microfiber cloth to wipe out the remaining dust from the surface of the laminate furniture. Dampen a cloth in clean water and then run it over the entire surface to quickly collect all the particles. A cleaner surface will paint better.

Step 5:  Apply the First Coat of Chalky Paint

Before you start painting, shake the can to mix the paint properly. It offers a better finish. Now, dip the brush bristles inside the paint. Please make sure you only insert the lower end of the brush, ensuring it has minimal paint.

Start painting from the top and come down to the bottom of the furniture smoothly. Stroke the brush lightly so the coating on the furniture is light.  It will help in the quick drying of the paint.

Step 6: The Secondary Distressing

Once the 1st coat is dried, you may consider giving the piece of furniture a second layer of distorted look. Use fine gritted sandpaper to quickly roughen the edges of the furniture and around its legs. Using finer sandpaper gives you more control over the entire process.

Start distressing around the edges, and once you grow confident, go on the legs and other parts of the furniture and distort the paint finish. Don’t worry about the look you get since you still have to apply a second coat of paint.

Step 7: Apply the Secondary Coat

Now, use the bristled brush and paint the entire surface of the piece of laminated furniture. Make sure the coat is smooth and even. You don’t need to hurry during the painting project. Instead, consistently move the brush from the top to the bottom to finish off the paint.

Now, let the furniture dry off until it is ready for the next steps.

Step 8: Sanding the Paint Finish Again

You have to sand off the finished paint once again, but this time on a lighter action. Use fine sandpaper to remove excess paint over the surface, if there’s any. Also, give the painted surface a slightly distressed look with the last sanding process.

We recommend you using 120-grit sandpaper. Rub it lightly over the painted surface until it exposes the lamination underneath and looks slightly distorted.

Step 9: Apply Wax for Protection

Waxing works as a sealant to protect the paint finish from water and other damaging elements. Thus, it ensures lasting paintwork. You have to work with cheesecloth to apply the wax. Dip the cloth inside the wax can and then spread it over the painted surface.

Work lightly until the entire surface feels smooth with waxing sealant. It also gives the matte finish a perfect impression. Also, don’t use the furniture right after waxing. Instead, leave it for two to three days to help the wax cure and the paint to dry completely.


A piece of distressed laminate furniture brings different aesthetics to your home interior. Plus, the matte finish of the chalky paint elevates the overall look of the furniture. This guideline on how to paint laminate furniture to look distressed will help you achieve such a vintage look shortly.

The key is to add the dents in the right way and then sand the paint for such a classic appearance. Also, if you accidentally add too many dents, use putty to hide them. So, instead of feeling worried about how the paintwork goes, let’s demonstrate your creativity.