DIY: How to Distress a Door For the Home or Garden

Learn how to make a door reveal its true age by removing some of the paint.

Well I know it has been a while since my last post but finding the time to do one has been somewhat of a challenge. 

When a friend of mine, Marcia Wampler, a fellow vintage collector asked me to help her sell her door, I took on the challenge. It also gave me an opportunity to blog on it.

She had the door sitting in a co-signment shop for the last three months with no activity and no sale — just collecting dust. 

I remember seeing the piece and there was one glaring element it lacked. It was too perfectly painted.

It seems that pieces that are too "put together" can hinder a buyer from realizing it's full potential. Since , I knew what I needed to do.

Remove some paint or distress it as they call it these days.

1. The first step of course is to make sure you have the proper safety gear. For this project I recommend safety glasses and protective gloves. Trust me on this one, I have done this project countless times and the paint remover used can be quite hazardous. I mean it is burning the paint off of the project and can do the same to your skin.

2. Next go to the store on Center Street and buy paint and epoxy remover. I used Jasco. You can purchase a small can of it for about $15. Put your safety gear on before proceeding.

  • Shake the can rigorously until you feel it is mixed then open slowly. With a paint brush and a galvanized bucket, pour the gooey mess into the bucket and apply the remover to your project (the door in this case). A thin layer is all you need.
  • Let the substance set for at least 15 minutes. You will start to see the paint bubble. That's when you know it is working. On this door, I waited 20 minutes. Some of the liquid will dry completely and in other areas will not.
  • With your gear on still, take a putty knife and gently remove the bubbled paint. Take special attention to the layers of paint to keep or remove. It does take a little artistic ability or just go with own judgement. I have done so many pieces and after a while you just know how and where to pull it off and leave it on.

3. After you have completely finished and the piece is slightly dry, take a piece of sand paper and lightly sand it to reveal more distressing features. You can also use the paper to remove the yellowing that remains after using the remover.  Remember, the piece should just be slightly dry to do this step. If you wait too long it will be more difficult to sand you will get frustrated with the results. Take it from an expert distresser (if there is such a title) and don't delay this step for later in the day.

  • There probably is lead in the layers of paint so you can use a mask and do this step outdoors.

4. After you have sanded the piece and cleaned off the excessive paint, take a hand held scraper also purchased from Workbench and clean off any of the excess and paint that usually appears on the glass. You know we have all done it — when we paint a room we never really clean the windows correctly. Since you only have one to do, do a great job and your piece will shine. 

  • Window cleaner and towels along with the scaper is all you need.

That's it! You are done. Now, where to put the piece, indoor or out? I took two photos of the door — one indoor and one out. So many decisions, it looks great in both areas. Here's an idea: try it indoors first and then when you get tired of it, put a protective coating on it and put it in your garden. For the piece I worked on, I will take it with me to the Treasure Island Flea Market this weekend and try and sell it. 

I think I will price it at $125. By the way, if you want to see this piece in person take a drive to Treasure Island Flea Market and check it out for yourself. They are open both Saturday and Sunday for your convenience.

Print this blog and give it to Angie at the pay booth and tell her I sent you. You will gain free entrance to the event complements of  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

cathy dostal-pedersen May 25, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Good blog. See you this weekend
Valerie hetherington May 25, 2012 at 11:29 PM
You show be doing classes on this....I tell you, it'll bring customersi in learning creative techniques and they'll be there ready to shop as well. Post it and they will come!
Natasha May 26, 2012 at 03:49 AM
Love the door. I'm coming to Treasure Island, wanna see what other new stuff you have. Any birds?


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