Distressed Look for Walls?

Any ideas on how to do a distressed look on wall panels from the 70's? I wanted to do a nautical type look in my living room.

Sheena from Greenville, AL


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By LYNDA (Guest Post)
October 9, 20080 found this helpful

What's your definition of "distressed"? There's "weathered", which has a lot to do with the color and condition of your wood, which is usually stained rather than painted. Sort of "bluish grey" and streaked. It would go well with a nautical theme, in my opinion. Think old weathered fencing in the dunes. Rough cedar siding with board/batting pattern works well with nautical.

Then there's the "hammered" effect that is done with links of chains clustered and literally hammered all over the wood to "dent" it. Then take a darker stain on a 3" brush while wearing gloves, covering everything in the room/ floor, fleck spots all over the finished color, finely at first until you get the right amount and size of the flecks. You hold the brush in the right hand and slowly pull your left hand over the bristles deliberately but not dawdling too long. It takes practice so try it on a scrap paper or board outside first to get the hang of it and the right tension for the effect you are after.


The "antiqued" effect has to do more with edges burnished and flat areas rubbed with a darker color on a lighter background, then finished with a clear or demi/opaque color semi-gloss polyurethane spray. (Use plenty of ventilation) if it's too shiny, use wadded newsprint to blot blotches at variable spacing but make certain it is irregular and fairly close together.

With the blotches it will look more distressed. Without and made smooth it will be more reflective and less distressed. You will have to decide what is best for the area the wall is in, the amount of light you need to reflect or subdue, and adust your thinking accordingly. It's not unthinkable to thin a metallic (other than silver) paint down slightly and streak over the smoothness with a 3-4" brush. Test on your practice board just prior to making a decision so that you can get the right tension and not make mistakes. Metallic application is hard to correct and should be done by a more experienced painter/ crafter.


It's a good idea to find a similar piece of wood as the wall wood, of about 3'x6' and practice designing the effect you prefer, complete with various stains and finishes. Try three in each idea, then the colors you want. This way you can toss what is unpleasant to you and turn the board over and "fine tune" the one(s) you do want.

It's a good idea to keep notes as to how you got each effect and finished color. Remember the wood needs to be as close to the same material on your wall as possible or it will not yield the same effect as your practice board. God bless and good luck. : )

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October 10, 20080 found this helpful

A nautical look is easy on paneled walls. You are going to need clothes line, in white and a staple gun. If there are grooves on the panels simply staple the clothes line at the very top of the wall and at the bottom (sometimes it is a good idea to remove the base board and then reapply after all the stapling is done.) If there are no grooves simply measure off how far you would want to lines to be and staple as before covering the lines.


Next you can paint the entire wall white. Or if you really want to get nautical paint the wall dark blue before adding the clothes line. To hide the top and bottom staples paint the base board and crown molding to match the wall color. It is simply beautiful when complete.

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By Cathy from Townsville, QLD (Guest Post)
January 20, 20090 found this helpful

Thin some white paint with water and mix well. Paint over the walls, then wipe off with a rag to get the weathered whitewash look. Good luck!

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July 17, 20110 found this helpful

I painted mine a light grey then took white and add glazing liquid too and I wiped it on.

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