How to Antique Finish a Coffee Table

What You'll Need
Coarse bristle brush
Soapy water
Satin varnish
Semi-gloss paint
Oil based tint
Sand paper
Cheese cloth, some sort of textured wiping cloth, or plaster
Clean drying cloth

Genuine antique finished coffee tables can be quite expensive. Luckily, it is easy to create a faux antique finish on a new coffee table. While there are antique finishing kits available, these are usually more expensive than gathering the materials and creating a faux antique finish from scratch. The process is simple enough for anyone to attempt and can be completed in a relatively short amount of time.

Step 1 - Remove Any Hardware

If the coffee table that is being finished has drawers with decorative metal handles, remove these first so that they don't get paint or varnish on them. Removing this hardware will also ensure that the entire table is finished including the areas behind the handles.

Step 2 - Wash and Sand the Coffee Table

Using soapy water, wash the entire surface of the coffee table that is going to be finished and dry it with a clean cloth. Next, wipe down the table with mineral spirits. This will ensure that any furniture polish, wax or other sealants that have been applied to the table are removed. Afterward, sand the table with a medium grit sand paper. Lastly, wipe away any excess dust with a clean cloth so that it does not interfere with the finish.

Step 3 - Apply a Base Coat

Use a coarse bristle brush to apply a base coat of semi-gloss paint. The coarse bristles will mimic the types of brushes used long ago to finish furniture. The color of the paint doesn't matter, but many people choose antique white for obvious reasons. Allow the paint to dry.

Step 4 - Add Some Texture

After the base coat has dried, apply a mixture of three parts satin varnish to one part turpentine. This glaze will give the table a sheen that is similar to those found on antiques by slightly discoloring the base coat and dulling the varnish shine. An oil-based tint may be added to the glaze if one desires the glaze to be a specific color. When the glaze begins to dull, wipe it away with a cheese cloth to give it an antique texture. If the texture is not prominent enough other textured wiping cloths can be used such as rags, bunched up paper towels or burlap. Another method for producing an antique texture is to spread plaster onto the wood surfaces before laying down the base coat. This will give the coffee table an extremely rough texture that may even be lined with cracks. Usually the varied texture and cracks give the finish an older look, but the plaster may eventually chip away leaving the original surface to show through.

Step 5 - Reattach any Hardware that was Removed

Once the glaze has had time to dry, reattach any of the drawer pulls that may have been removed.