If you're looking for a new dining room table, you might not be the type of person who wants the table to look sleek and pristine. Instead, perhaps you favor the shabby-chic appearance of distressed furniture. While you can often find artificially distressed dining room furniture at local retailers, another approach is to find a dining room table with a design and budget that suit you, and then do the distressing yourself. You don't have to be a competent woodworker to handle this job; distressing furniture involves a series of simple steps that you should be able to execute properly.
Sand Down Some Areas
One of the prime features of distressed furniture is that it looks worn in certain areas, and you can achieve this look with the help of some sandpaper. Think about where the dining room table would likely be worn — in many cases, the wearing would occur along the edges. Take some fine-grit sandpaper and rub the edges of the table enough to remove the varnish or paint. The degree to which you sand these areas depends on how distressed you want the table to look. If the distressed areas aren't smooth enough for your liking, find some sandpaper with a finer grit and go over the desired areas.
Make Some Dents
Another common feature of distressed furniture is dents, which can be used to help a new dining room table look vintage. Dining room tables can get dented through prolonged use as a result of people dropping cutlery, banging down hard glasses and serving containers, and other such occurrences. You can use any hard object to make some dents; a light hammer can be ideal for this job. Simply tap the hammer into the wood in various locations around the table. You don't typically need to go overboard, as too many dents can make the distressing look overly fake.
Apply Some Paint
Many people also use paint to further augment the distressed look of their furniture. Ideally, you should use a dark paint. If there's a ridged trim along the edges of the table, for example, you can apply some paint into the grooves, perhaps smudging it with a cloth. You don't want the area to actually look painted; the dark paint just makes the area look aged, so don't go overboard with large splotches of paint. When applying the paint, it's better to do so lightly and then evaluate if you want to add more. Too much paint in any given area can ruin the distressed effect.