How To Paint & Distress A Wood Bench

how to distress a wood bench

Turn an old bench into a rustic farmhouse treasure by painting and distressing it!

I got this adorable wood bench on Craigslist a few years ago for my birthday, ($35!) and I loved it! The shape, the color, everything.

The problem was I put it on the porch, and over time the weather really started to get worn down. At one point I tried to sand and re stain/seal it, but eventually I knew that because it sometimes has sitting water on it, it really needed something tough and substantial like paint to protect it.

I decided to paint it black and give it my favorite distressing treatment (similar to how I distressed our dining table.)

I was sorry to see the pretty wood color go, but happy to give this cute bench new life. Here is how I did it!

How To Paint & Distress A Wood Bench

Supplies Needed

  • Dewalt Rotary Sander & sandpaper
  • Outdoor Black Paint
  • Clear Acrylic Sealer
  • Paint brushes and basic painting gear

Step 1. Smooth The Base

If your bench has any chipping parts or loose paint, give it a once over to remove the bulk of the issues. You don’t need it to be perfectly smooth since this will be distressed later, but you want to remove any large pieces that are chipping away.

I quickly went over the seat with my dewalt sander to make sure the bench was ready for painting.

Here is my before shot:

a rustic farmhouse wood bench

You can also optionally rub some wax in different places around the bench after this step and before painting, which will help remove some paint and give it a chipped look later.

Step 2. Paint The Bench

Next, use your roller brushes and paint brushed to paint the bench.

painting a wood bench black

I let my kids have at it with the roller brush, and I used a nylon paint brush to get into the grooves and corners. There is a lot of round shapes on my bench that needed extra attention.

painting a bench black

Flip your bench over if you need to (once it is dry) to make sure the bottom is all evenly covered as well!

painting a wood bench black

Do as many coats of paint as you need to make sure it is well covered.

The bench I did looked so good after I painted it, I was very tempted just to leave it black, but I KNEW it would chip anyways, so I moved along to the distressing!

black rustic farmhouse bench

Step 3. Distress The Paint

Now is the super fun part! Using a 60 and 80 grit sandpaper, I very gently sanded off random areas all over the bench where I thought it would look natural and pretty.

black farmhouse distressed bench

When using 60 and 80 grit sandpaper, the paint is removed FAST so you don’t need to spend a lot of time in one spot, just softly glide it around and check how it looks, then sand a little more if you want to.

wood bench leg close up

Make sure to sand and distress under the arms, on the edges of the seat, and around all the areas where a bench would naturally get worn down.

black distressed bench farmhouse rustic style

Then, sand lightly over it all with a 100 or 120 grit sandpaper just to smooth out the paint a bit without removing it, to prepare for sealing it.

Step 4. Seal The Bench

Using a clear acrylic sealer, (I used minwax polycrylic, I use it for all sorts of stuff!) paint the entire bench and make sure not to let it drip. You want it to be very well coated but also smooth. You will probably need to do multiple layers.

miniwax acrylic sealer

If you do a layer of sealer, then let it dry and sand it with a high grit paper, then do another layer of sealer and sand it again, you can make it have a very buttery smooth texture and it will look great!

This is what I did with my kitchen table, I worked hard to make the sealing very smooth to the touch. With this bench however, I wasn’t as worried since it would be outside, and it was also much harder to sand since it wasn’t flat!

That’s it! The final step is to resist the urge to distress every piece of furniture in sight!

Here is the after shot:

black farmhouse bench distressed on porch

It looks so super cute, And matches our black windows very well. I love the peeks of the wood color coming through, which looks good with out porch beams.

All in all I think it turned out awesome for how much effort it took (hardly any at all!)

distressed black bench close up on porch diy

I am slowly but surely making this porch cute… last summer I made this cute little sign and porch arrangements, this year I have no idea what to do… one step at a time!

If you have any questions about this project, let me know in the comments below!

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