Creating a set of rustic painted distressed shelves is a quick and easy way to add life to an old set of vintage shelves. Sometimes when I buy a set of vintage shelves they need more than just a quick polish to make them ready for their new home. I love vintage shelves for the shape, design and the fact that they are made from real wood and well made.  I decided to paint these a vintage white with a distressed look, as this will give them a vintage faded look which would fit in to most interior schemes.

When painting and distressing shelves the quality of the finish starts with the quality of the preparing.

Preparing the shelves for painting

  • Clean shelves from dirt and grease,  I usually wipe down with either sugar soap or soap and water
  • Check for any loose wood, areas that may need some wood filler, and loose or raised nails or tacks
  • Once dry sand shelves all over, including back and underneath shelves
  • Brush of all dust, I brush off then hover to ensure the piece is them free from dust

Rustic Painted Distressed Shelves snading

Painting and Distressing the Shelves

  • Paint a base coat of paint over all the shelves – the paint I use is formulated for wood and metal and has a built in premier so I don’t need to prime. If you are not using a combined paint you will need to  apply a premier as your base coat.
  • Once the base coat is dry lightly sand, I find this gives my second coat a better finish
  • Brush of all the sanded paint
  • Apply a second coat of paint all over the shelves
  • Once dry choose the areas you wish to distress and lightly sand them until you start to see the wood. How much you sand and how deep depends on the look you are after.
  • Again brush off all the dust from the sanded paint
  • Once you are happy with the level of distress you can then apply the wax –  use a wax that is specially formulated for painted wood.
  • Apply wax all over the shelves ensuring you have an even coverage.
  • Waxing the shelves makes them waterproof and helps protect them from knocks
  • Once the wax has dried I rub over it with a lint free cloth which gives it a silk sheen
  • To maintain the shelves in good condition wipe them down and re wax as required

Rustic Painted Distressed Shelves painting top bar

Rustic Painted Distressed Shelves prep ready for waxing

Vintage shelves are just great for adding extra space which can be used to display your vintage bits and pieces or used as book shelves. These shelves can be either hung on a wall or be free standing.

Rustic Painted Distressed Shelves finished on wall

Rustic Painted Distressed Shelves display of vintage items

You can apply these techniques to most wood you wish to paint and distress. Have a go, have fun and enjoy.

Thanks Helen x

0