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What Is Distressed Wood?

Image of distressed wood

Aged wood can provide a weathered look that adds character to floors, trunks, cabinets, chests of drawers and other products. While the aging process occurs naturally, it’s possible to replicate this worn but attractive appearance on new wood. The finished product is referred to as distressed wood. 

What Does Distressed Wood Mean?

“Distressed” is a term that describes several techniques that transform the finish of a new wood product by making it appear older and worn. Some people use the terms “distressed” and “reclaimed” wood interchangeably, but each has a different meaning.

Reclaimed vs. Distressed Wood: What’s the Difference?

Reclaimed wood is typically older wood that previously served as planks, flooring, walls, furniture or other items. Over time, the wood may accumulate stains from oils or polish, begin to show discoloration or bleaching due to exposure to the sun or develop other imperfections that occur naturally. Manufacturers repurpose — or reclaim — this old wood by giving it a second life in new products.

On the other hand, distressed wood requires human intervention to replicate the look of aged natural wood. Various techniques enable artisans to create a wide range of visually appealing finishes.

How to Distress Wood

Examples of the many methods used to produce distressed wood include:

  • Marking it up: A simple method for distressing wood is to strike it with a steel chain or hammer. You can also make small indentations by placing a handful of nails inside a shop rag and banging the piece.
  • Applying a wire brush: A wire brush attached to a drill can mimic the weathering effect on softer woods.
  • Staining: Applying a stain to a wood surface will darken divots and other imperfections and make them stand out. Allowing additional time for the stain to soak into the wood enhances the effect.
  • Sanding: You can add texture to a painted wood piece by using an orbital sander and rough-grit sandpaper to remove some of the paint.
  • Using an automated distressing machine: One of the easiest and most precise wood distressing techniques is using an automated machine to provide quick results on flooring, furniture and cabinets.
Dubois Wood Distressing machine

Get a Wood Distresser Quote From Dubois Equipment

Dubois Equipment is your headquarters for a high-quality wood distresser machine that can help you achieve the desired distressed wood finish on any workpiece quickly and efficiently. Contact us for more information or to request a no-obligation quote from our team today!