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Real Wood Furniture...Finished Your Way!
  Brought to you by UFA.
  






Creating Decorative Finishes

Color is one of the most fulfilling elements in our lives. Color can attract your attention or change your mood and is one of the first things you notice when you walk into a room. Is it any wonder that color, and how you use it, is one of the most important decorating decisions you'll make in your home? Inside your home, specialty color furniture finishes give you an opportunity to give voice to your personality and décor. Decorative or faux finishes are easy to create.

Read on to learn more about distressing, marble effects, color washing, ragging and wood graining on any piece of furniture! These techniques are often effective when added as a simple finishing touch to a piece of furniture, perhaps just on the top, drawer front, or door panel.

distressed Distressing is the technique of marking wood to mimic the character of generations of use. The most common form is distress sanding. Other tools can be used to give further aging dimension to wood; hammers, nails, screws, old hardware, literally anything you can pound into the wood that would leave an imprint. This look: Black Furniture Paint sanded off.
antiquing Antiquing is a another form of distressing using sanding techniques combined with glazing or a second color-giving the appearance of an old piece of furniture that has been well taken care of over the years, but has slight natural wear on the doors, edges, or sides. For more design ideas (PDF), click here. The look of distressing and antiquing is enhanced on furniture with moldings and raised panels. This look: Off-white Furniture Paint over Dark Green Furniture Paint.
glazing Glazing is the process of applying a translucent color to the surface, and then rubbing off the excess to create decorative effects. Often called "color washing" or "burnishing", Glaze will put a "wash of translucent color" over the base color underneath. Click here to see more samples of this technique (PDF). When Glaze is applied with techniques such as sponging, ragging or Strie', more unique looks can be achieved. This look: Red Furniture Paint sanded off, followed by a yellow Glaze.
sponging Sponging or Color Washing is the process of applying a translucent color to the surface, and then pouncing the Glaze with a dampened sea sponge or soft cloth. To achieve an aged patina, apply an additional lighter Glaze over a darker Glaze.
strie Strie' (Dragging) The word strie' is French, meaning to comb through the Glaze mixture with dry dragging tools such as a brush, in order to create fine lines and to reveal the base coat color underneath. This look: Reddish Brown Glaze over Yellow Furniture Paint.
colorwashred Wet Color Blending This free form wet-finish application is known for its subtle variations in color and soft natural glow. Supremely versatile, it can be adapted to any piece of furniture. This look: Red Furniture Paint diluted with water based Top Coat over White Furniture paint.
marble

Marble Effects is a timeless decorative finish that adds interest to furniture. When creating marble effects, keep it "real". Choose surfaces that realistically would be made of marble, such as table or dresser tops. This look: White Furniture Paint or Wood Stain with a Black Furniture Paint or Wood Stain.

pickling

Pickling is simply applying a light color stain to wood; then wiping off the stain to let the color of the wood show through. This look: Off-white Wood Stain wiped off.

crackle

Crackle technique adds a beautiful, worn elegance to any piece of furniture. When used with water based Wood Stains or Furniture Paints, the crackle medium contracts, fracturing the top stain coat and exposing the base coat beneath. Within minutes, you can duplicate the effects of years of natural weathering. Perfect for that special touch -just crackle the drawer fronts or door panels for a weathered, aged look. This look: A pale yellow Furniture Paint over off-white Furniture Paint. For more Crackle samples in a printer friendly version, click here. (PDF)

antiquewood

Antique Wood Graining Also known as "faux bois", wood graining is a timeless wood finish that adds warmth and beauty to any piece. This look: a dark water based wood stain over a brick red Furniture Paint.

Note: these are general instructions to guide you through the decorative finishing process using water based products. Always refer to the manufacturer's specific instructions. Application guidelines for each manufacturer may vary. Visit our section applying water based finishes for basic application instructions. Always follow the usual instructions for preparation of the wood. We recommend using a practice board to preview your technique and color combinations before beginning your project.

Distressing and antiquing with Furniture Paints and Glazes

In the following 5 examples, several layers of Furniture Paints, Glazes and water based Top Coats are combined in the tradition of old world craftsmen to create unique, distressed looks in any color palette. The work goes fast as water based finishes dry quickly. Choose from any of following designs or create your own. Click here for more antiquing designs and color suggestions (PDF). The look of distressing and antiquing is enhanced on furniture with moldings and raised panels.

1. One coat of a dark brown Wood Stain
2. One coat of Top Coat to prevent color blending
3. Two coats of a Beige Furniture Paint sanded through
4. One or two coats of Top Coat
1. Two coats of a Red Furniture Paint
2. One coat of Top Coat to prevent color blending
3. Two coats of a Yellow Furniture Paint sanded through
4. One or two coats of Top Coat
1. Two coats of a Red Furniture Paint
2. One coat of Top Coat to prevent color blending
3. Two coats of an Off-White Furniture Paint sanded through
4. One or two coats of Top Coat
1. Two coats of dark Blue Furniture Paint
2. One coat of Top Coat to prevent color blending
3. Two coats of a Beige Furniture Paint sanded through
4. One or two coats of Top Coat
1. Two coats of a Brown Furniture Paint
2. One coat of Top Coat to prevent color blending
3. Two coats of a Black Furniture Paint sanded through
4. One or two coats of Top Coat

bullet The look of distressing and antiquing is enhanced on furniture with moldings and raised panels, so choose your piece accordingly.
bullet Start by working on a test board first to perfect your skills and see an example of what your finished project will look like. Do not practice on your new furniture.
bullet Paint on a coat of your selected Furniture Paint color.
bullet Let dry and add a second coat.
bullet Buff between coats with #220 sandpaper or superfine sanding sponge.
bullet Apply a layer of water based Top Coat. Allow the Top Coat to dry 2 to 4 hours before applying Glaze. The Top Coat causes the Glaze to slide on the painted surface and allows more open time to wipe the Glaze off. Optional: For a heavily glazed look, skip this Top Coat layer.
bullet Using coarse #100-#120 grit sandpaper, sand edges of raised panels, doors, drawers and corners of cabinet all the way through to bare wood. Sand heavily for a more rustic look.

Distressed Sanding
distressedsanding bullet Do not use an orbital sander on flat surfaces, as the Glaze will pick up any imperfections in sanding, particularly the circular motion of orbital sanders.
bullet Hand sanding is usually preferred. However, if you are experienced, you may carefully use an orbital or other power sander to sand corners and edges to expose the raw wood. Then finish with hand sanding. Practice first to test your skills.
bullet Sand the areas you want antiqued with a power sander using #100 grit sandpaper to enhance edges, corners, around door knobs, etc. The look you are trying to obtain is a slightly distressed piece, so don't hold the sander in one spot too long.
bullet Do one side at a time.
bullet After you have finished a section, wipe it down with a lightly damp cloth to remove dust and reveal the bare wood or base coat of finish underneath, creating the look of slightly worn areas. Be careful not to sand too hard after you have wiped a section with the damp cloth. Sanding damp finish will cause more paint to come off. Gradually sand all areas.
bullet After you have completed initial sanding with a power sander, finish by hand sanding the edges, corners, and moldings using either a #220 gray foam sanding pad or #400 grit sandpaper.
bullet Think about where extra wear would be from using the door knobs, etc. You will notice as you sand that different pressures expose varied amounts of undercoat. The doors of furniture get the most wear, so open and close the doors and take notice of where your hands are. Imagine over time how much the areas are used and touched. This should help you decide what areas need to be more distressed.
bullet If your piece has a lot of flat surfaces, additional hand sanding on random areas of the surface will give final look more character.
bullet If you are working with bead board and moldings, it is not necessary to sand flat surfaces heavily. The moldings and bead board will pick up the Glaze, increasing the depth of color and character.

Glazing
bullet Pour Glaze color into a paper plate covered with aluminum foil or painter's tray. Working one small section at a time, apply the Glaze liberally (really slather it on) with a foam brush or paint pad over entire section.
bullet Wipe off excess with a lint free cloth to achieve desired look. The Glaze will color your sanded areas and give the painted sections an aged look.
bullet If you want to rework a section, simple re wet the working surface with Glaze.
bullet Work quickly, so that the Glaze color does not dry before finishing a section.
bullet Let dry 2-4 hours. Apply water based Top Coat for additional durability or to increase sheen.
The following Glaze finishes are interesting to use on an entire piece or just a drawer front or door panel. All of the following techniques require the same basic process as above. The difference is in how the Glaze is applied and removed.

Sponging or Color Washing (additive technique)
sponging bullet Start by working on a test board first to perfect your skills and see an example of what your finished project will look like. Do not practice on your new furniture.
bullet Work in sections, masking where appropriate. If working with panels of molding and bead board, treat those areas as sections, masking them off.
bullet Paint on a base coat of your selected Furniture Paint color.
bullet Let dry and add a second coat.
bullet Buff between coats with #220 sandpaper or superfine sanding sponge.
bullet Apply a layer of water based Top Coat. Allow the Top Coat to dry 2 to 4 hours before applying Glaze. The Top Coat allows the Glaze to slide on the painted surface and increases the open time to work with the Glaze. Option: For a heavily glazed look, skip the Top Coat layer.
bullet Work quickly, so that the Glaze color does not dry before finishing a section.
bullet Dip a water-dampened sea sponge into the Glaze color or brush the Glaze color onto the sea sponge. Bunched up plastic wrap or dry paper bags can be used instead of a damp sea sponge.
bullet Blot excess Glaze color onto a clean rag.
bullet Apply the Glaze color by blotting/pouncing the sponge onto the surface until the desired affect is achieved. Option: working with three colors - a base color, a Glaze color darker than your base color, and a third, deeper Glaze color - will result in a look with richer color depth. Allow each Glaze layer to dry.
bullet Turning or rotating the sponge will create a random look. Do not squeeze the sponge or push down too hard onto the surface. You may experiment with a bunched up cloth to vary the texture.
bullet Re-apply the Glaze color onto the sponge as necessary.
bullet Continue applying the technique, blending the completed area into the newest section to avoid distinct, overlapping lines. Always maintain a wet edge as you work across the surface. (The edge or end of a wet, coated area that is still workable and will blend easily).
bullet Option: For a more textured look, experiment with a large paint brush to apply the Glaze mixture. Use a crisscross motion to brush the mixture onto the furniture in random strokes. Finish this technique by feathering out any harsh brush strokes, lightly sweeping over what you have done with a clean dry brush.
bullet Finish by applying two or three coats of water based Top Coat, sanding in between coats with a super fine foam sanding pad or #320 sandpaper.

Ragging On (additive technique)
bullet Start by working on a test board first to perfect your skills and see an example of what your finished project will look like. Do not practice on your new furniture.
bullet Work in sections.
bullet Paint on a base coat of your selected Furniture Paint color.
bullet Let dry and add a second coat.
bullet Buff between coats with #220 sandpaper or superfine sanding sponge.
bullet Apply a layer of water based Top Coat. Allow the Top Coat to dry 2 to 4 hours before applying Glaze. The Top Coat allows the Glaze to slide on the painted surface and increases the open time to work the Glaze coat. Optional: For a heavily glazed look, skip the Top Coat layer.
bullet Submerge a water-dampened rag into the Glaze color and wring out the excess.
bullet Apply a second layer of either Glaze or furniture paint by blotting or rolling the rag onto the surface until the desired affect is achieved. Note: Furniture Paint colors can be inter-mixed or diluted with Top Coat to make custom colors.
bullet Frequently re-arrange and re-scrunch the rag to create random natural look.
bullet Work quickly, so that the Glaze color does not dry before finishing a section.
bullet Re-submerge the rag into the Glaze color as necessary.
bullet Continue applying the technique, blending the completed area into the newest section to avoid distinct, overlapping lines. Always maintain a wet edge as you work across the surface. (The edge or end of a wet, coated area that is still workable and will blend easily).
bullet Finish by applying two or three coats of water based Top Coat, sanding in between coats with a super fine foam sanding pad or #320 sandpaper.
Ragging Off (subtractive technique)
bullet Start by working on a test board first to perfect your skills and see an example of what your finished project will look like. Do not practice on your new furniture.
bullet Work in sections.
bullet Paint on a base coat of your selected Furniture Paint color.
bullet Let dry and add a second coat.
bullet Buff between coats with #220 sandpaper or superfine sanding sponge.
bullet Apply a layer of water based Top Coat. Allow the Top Coat to dry 2 to 4 hours before applying Glaze. The Top Coat allows the Glaze to slide on the painted surface and increases the open time to work the Glaze coat. Optional: For a heavily glazed look, skip the Top Coat layer.
bullet Liberally apply a second layer of either Glaze or Furniture Paint by blotting or rolling the rag onto the surface until the desired affect is achieved. Note: Furniture Paint colors can be inter-mixed or diluted with Top Coat to make custom colors.
bullet Using a rolled/scrunched rag, dab or roll the wet Glaze color, starting from the edges of the section. This technique will reduce "distinct or hard lines" on the surface.
bullet Frequently re-arrange and re-scrunch the rag to create a random and natural look.
bullet Work quickly, so that the Glaze color does not dry before finishing a section.
bullet If the rag becomes overloaded with Glaze, rinse out the rag.
bullet When applying the Glaze color to the next section, blend the completed area into the newest section to avoid hard, overlapping lines. Maintain a wet edge as you work across the surface. Continue applying the technique, blending the completed area into the newest section to avoid distinct, overlapping lines. Always maintain a wet edge as you work across the surface. (The edge or end of a wet, coated area that is still workable and will blend easily).
bullet Finish by applying two or three coats of water based Top Coat, sanding in between coats with a super fine foam sanding pad or #320 sandpaper.

Strie' or Dragging
strieThe word strie' is French, meaning to comb through the Glaze mixture with dry dragging tools such as a brush, in order to create fine lines and to reveal the base coat color underneath. This look: Reddish Brown Glaze over Yellow Furniture Paint.
bullet Start by working on a test board first to perfect your skills and see an example of what your finished project will look like. Do not practice on your new furniture.
bullet Work in sections.
bullet Paint on a base coat of your selected Furniture Paint color.
bullet Buff between coats with #220 sandpaper or superfine sanding sponge.
bullet Apply a layer of water based Top Coat. Allow the Top Coat to dry 2 to 4 hours before applying Glaze. The Top Coat causes Glaze to slide on the painted surface and allows open time to work the Glaze coat. Optional: For a heavily glazed look, skip the Top Coat layer.
bullet Liberally apply a second layer of either Glaze or furniture paint by blotting or rolling the rag onto the surface until the desired affect is achieved. Note: Furniture Paint colors can be inter-mixed or diluted with Top Coat to make custom colors.
bullet Using a dry brush, lightly drag the bristles down (in one direction through the wet Glaze Color).
bullet Maintain a dry brush by wiping with a cloth rag after each pass.
bullet Continue applying Glaze and dragging until the surface is complete.
bullet Work quickly, so that the Glaze color does not dry before finishing a section.
bullet For a denim or woven look, allow the dragged surface to dry 20 minutes, then lightly apply a thin coat of Glaze color over the dragged surface while dragging the brush horizontally across.
bullet When applying the Glaze color to the next section, blend the completed area into the newest section to avoid hard, overlapping lines. Maintain a wet edge as you work across the surface. Continue applying the technique, blending the completed area into the newest section to avoid distinct, overlapping lines. Always maintain a wet edge as you work across the surface. (The edge or end of a wet, coated area that is still workable and will blend easily).
bullet Finish by applying two or three coats of water based Top Coat, sanding in between coats with a super fine foam sanding pad or #320 sandpaper.

Marble Effects
marble This is a timeless decorative finish that adds interest to furniture. When creating marble effects, keep it "real". Choose surfaces that realistically would be made of marble, such as table or dresser tops. Marble effects work best on closed grain woods such as pine, maple, birch, aspen, or alder. If you use "open-grain" woods, such as oak, the distinct, visible grain of these woods will show through the background of the marble, and distort the look. Use your imagination! In nature, there are no two pieces of marble exactly alike. If you don't like the results simply paint over and start again. This look uses a white Furniture Paint or Wood Stain with a Black Furniture Paint or Wood Stain.
Materials Needed:
bullet A white water based Stain or Furniture Paint bullet Lint free cloth (old T-shirt)
bullet A black water based Stain or Furniture Paint bullet Feather
bullet Water based Top Coat bullet 220-400 grit sandpaper
bullet Natural sponge bullet Foam brushes or latex paint pad applicator
bullet Apply 2 coats of white water based Stain or Furniture Paint to get a solid background.
bullet Allow each coat to dry for 2 hours. Then lightly sand the surface to a smooth finish using a super fine foam sanding pad.
bullet Dip the tip of the feather in a black water based Stain or Furniture Paint and draw the marble veins on the surface in a diagonal direction. Use a slow, twisting motion with the feather as you drag the color across the surface. Veins should look like lightning bolts or tree branches, each vein roughly parallel to the one next to it. Avoid a crisscross pattern. Veins should continue from edge to edge. Allow the veins to dry for 5 minutes.
bullet Pour equal parts of a white water based Stain or Furniture Paint and water based Top Coat into a paper plate covered with aluminum foil or painter's tray.
bullet Dip the dampened sponge into this mixture and then blot the excess on a paper towel.
bullet Apply the mixture color by blotting/pouncing the sponge onto the surface until the desired affect is achieved. Lift the sponge - do not drag it. The sponge will soften the veins, covering them slightly. Let this dry 5 minutes.
bullet Next, fold a cloth into a pad making sure there are no wrinkles on the bottom side. Wrinkles will leave an undesirable pattern on the surface. A latex paint pad applicator can also be used. Blot the entire surface with the clean applicator by pouncing the surface, lifting the pad straight up and down, blending the black veins into the white background.
bullet Using the black color, lightly accentuate the veins again with the feather. Allow this to dry 2 hours.
bullet Finish by applying two or three coats of water based Top Coat, sanding in between coats with a super fine foam sanding pad or #320 sandpaper.

Wet Color Blending
colorwash This free form wet-finish application is known for its subtle variations in color and soft natural glow. Supremely versatile, it can be adapted to any piece of furniture. This look: Red Furniture Paint diluted with water based Top Coat over White Furniture paint.
bullet Apply a base coat of color water based Wood Stain or Furniture Paint. While the first color is still wet, immediately apply a second color over the base color.
bullet Then brush out the two colors using a dry bristle brush. This will blend the two colors to create a softer shade with interesting texture.
bullet Let the piece dry and apply two or three coats of water based Top Coat, sanding in between coats with a super fine foam sanding pad 320 sandpaper.
A second method of color washing:
bullet Apply a base coat of colored water based Wood Stain or Furniture Paint. Allow this to dry.
bullet Apply a layer of water based Top Coat to prevent color blending. Allow the Top Coat to dry 2 to 4 hours.
bullet Apply a second color. While the second color is still wet, wipe off corners, edges of moldings etc. to reveal the color layer underneath.
bulletLet the piece dry and apply two or three coats of water based Top Coat, sanding in between coats with a super fine foam sanding pad.

Pickling
picklling Pickling is simply applying a light color stain to wood; then wiping off the stain to let the color of the wood show through. The most popular Pickle color is white, however any color can be used. This look: Off-white Wood Stain wiped off.
bullet Apply any water based Wood Stain and wipe off as much as you want while letting the wood grain show through the stain. The look you want to achieve is a soft subtle color.
bullet Let the piece dry and apply two or three coats of water based Top Coat, sanding in between coats with a super fine foam sanding pad.a
Another pickling method is the French Provincial look which requires two stain coats.
bullet First apply a light color Wood Stain and let dry for 2 hours.
bullet Then apply a coat of water based Top Coat and let dry for 2 hours.
bullet Finally add the look of age by applying a wash coat of white stain. Push the White into the edges of raised panels or into detail areas such as carvings.
bullet Wipe off the stain from the other areas and let dry.
bulletFinish by applying two or three coats of water based Top Coat, sanding in between coats with a super fine foam sanding pad or #320 sandpaper.

Crackle
crackle This technique adds a beautiful, worn elegance to any piece of furniture. When used with water based Wood Stains or Furniture Paints, the crackle medium contracts, fracturing the top stain coat and exposing the base coat beneath. Within minutes, you can duplicate the effects of years of natural weathering. Perfect for that special touch- just crackle the drawer fronts or door panels for a weathered, aged look. This look: A pale yellow Furniture Paint over off-white Furniture Paint. For more Crackle samples in a printer friendly version, click here. (PDF)
bullet Use a Crackle medium with water based Wood Stains or Furniture Paints to produce a weathered, aged look. The Crackle contracts when a water-based stain is applied over it. As the Crackle contracts, it fractures the top stain coat and exposes the base coat beneath.
bullet You will need two base colors (water based Wood Stain or Furniture Paint), crackle medium and water based Top Coat.
bullet Begin with a base coat of either water based Wood Stain or Furniture Paint. This will be the color that shows through the cracks. Let this base coat dry for 2 hours. It is not necessary to sand this coat.
bullet Apply Crackle with a foam brush or latex paint pad. A thin application produces thin cracks, and thicker application produce wider cracks. Let the crackle dry overnight.
bullet Then brush on a relatively thick coat of your chosen second color. Do not over brush - just make one pass. The cracking effect will begin in minutes.
bullet Let the piece dry and apply two or three coats of water based Top Coat, sanding in between coats with a super fine foam sanding pad or #320 sandpaper.

Antique Wood Graining
antiquewoodgraining Also known as "faux bois", wood graining is a timeless wood finish that adds warmth and beauty to any piece. This look: a dark water based wood stain over a brick red Furniture Paint.
bullet Buy a graining comb or you can create one by beveling the end of a piece of corrugated cardboard with a razor knife. This will expose the ripples in the cardboard.
bullet Apply 2 coats of the base color, allowing them both to dry.
bullet Then sand the surface with #320 or finer grade sandpaper or superfine foam sanding pad.
bullet Apply a layer of water based Top Coat to prevent color blending.
bullet Allow each coat to dry for 2 hours.
bullet Apply a heavy coat of a dark water based Wood Stain directly over the base color with a poly foam brush or latex paint pad. Allow the stain to set for 5 minutes.
bullet Drag the comb across the stain to remove most of the top layer of color, allowing the base color to show through. The result will look like wood grain. You can purchase commercial graining combs from craft supply stores to create a different look.
bullet To create knots, dip a small foam brush in the dark secondary color, and twirl the end of the foam brush on your piece in random places of the grain.
bullet Let the piece dry and apply two or three coats of water based Top Coat, sanding in between coats with a super fine foam sanding pad.

Applying Water-Based Finishes || Applying Oil-Based Finishes