Faux Painting a Vanity to Give it an Antique Look

Faux painting a vanity to give it an antique look is a fun and simple DIY project that enhances an otherwise plain wood finish. The result is a weathered look with a unique character, and there is a good deal of flexibility when it comes to techniques of distressing wood. Professionals recommend planning your faux painting so that it coordinates with the rest of the room. In the case of vanities, these are often in bathrooms and sometimes bedrooms, so look first at the lighting and/or furniture colors in these rooms for idea of what you want your faux antiqued vanity to look like at the end.

What You Will Need:

  • Paint brushes
  • Oil-based primer in 2 colors
  • Polyurethane sealer
  • Sandpaper
  • Old toothbrush
  • Wood stain 
  • Old newspaper
  • Cleaning rag 
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Sharpened pencil 
  • Small chain (an old bicycle chain works well)

Step 1 -- Clean and Prep Vanity

It is always a good idea to work with primers and sealers in a well-ventilated area such as your garage with the door up. Use a damp cleaning rag to wipe off any dust and debris from the vanity table. If you are working with a vanity that has a framed mirror, it is recommended to temporarily remove the glass to avoid accidentally damaging it or getting chemicals on it. If your vanity has drawers, remove and lay them on some old newspaper sheets to be distressed and painted separately.

Step 2 -- Apply Primer

Pick one of your oil-based primer colors and brush a coat of this on all wood parts of your vanity. Allow it to dry for about 4 hours, and then apply dry-brushes swatches of your second primer color to give the wood a streaked appearance. Dry brushing is a technique where you dampen the brush with a little water, wipe it off, and then dip the brush into the primer. This creates lighter and purposely less even brush strokes.

Step 3 -- Sand and Distress

Once all your primer has dried, lightly rub sandpaper over the wood to bring out a more aged appearance. Wipe off any sanding dust, and you are ready to distress the wood. Use the sharp point of a pencil or awl to make random marks in the wood. You can also use the points of nails for this instead if you prefer. On the table top of the vanity, lay an old bicycle chain across it and tap the chain against the wood with the hammer, creating random small dents and dings. Before doing this, be sure you have thoroughly cleaned any grease off the chain.

Step 4 -- Fleck Wood Stain

Dip your old toothbrush in wood stain and apply specks of it to the wood using a technique called fly specking. Hold the toothbrush above the wood surface and run a finger along the bristles to spray a fine mist of wood stain across the vanity. This works especially well on the edges of drawers and cabinet doors. As another option, brush some random strokes of wood stain on the edges of some of the wood panels. 

Step 5 -- Add Final Touches and Sealer

Be sure you have repeated steps 2 to 4 on the vanity drawers and leave them out on the newspaper until they are completely dry. Apply a coat of good quality polyurethane sealer to all parts of the vanity, and allow plenty of drying time. Replace the mirror and drawers.