DIY, Holidays, Home

Handmade Holiday: Distressed Frames

Always a fail safe, shots taken on vacations or road trips make for great gifts! Learn how to distress your wooden frames and give ’em a new life!

I put my pics in wooden frames I distress with stain, paint, sandpaper and a little polyurethane seal or food grade wax. If you’re not printing at home, take your pictures to Walgreen’s on a USB drive— they’re aite. Or go the old-fashioned route if you have another day, and drop your shots off at a real photographic printer. The archival quality and sharpness of a fiber based or resin coated paper will far outshine a factory print! But any photograph will look fantastic in a frame distressed by hand!


Wood Frame
Stain (optional)
Foam Brush (optional)
100-200 & 400 grit Sandpaper
Paint—spray paint or acrylic
Food Grade Mineral Oil + Beeswax, or Spray Polyurethane Sealant


Prep & Stain

Here’s the quickest way make a frame look distressed, and it’s permanent! If you choose a frame already stained, prepare it for painting by lightly sanding the surface with 100 or 200 grit paper to remove grease and wax. If you choose a colored frame you don’t like, or a natural one, you’ll need to stain the surface beforehand. Follow the staining manufacturers suggestions as to proper ventilation, safety precautions and staining techniques.


Once your frame has a basic coat of stain, whether you applied it or sanded it down, apply the paint. Spray or hand coating doesn’t matter, but give it a solid once over and let it dry completely.


Using the 400 grit paper, lightly sand areas of the frame where people would naturally touch. Places like corners and the most protruding surface layer would be more distressed. Keep going over the paint until you see through to the stain below.


Run a damp cloth across the surface to pick up any leftover dust, and let it dry. Using the polyurethane spray or pourable finish, do your thang and seal that baby up! But with the poly finish, a water based one will dry in about 2 hours. If you’re low on poly, you can use a food-grade mineral oil / beeswax combination found at most hardware stores in the kitchen / cleaning section. If you use oil, follow the directions and wipe the excess off with a clean rag 20 minutes after application.


Wasn’t it easy?! Don’t ya want to distress all your frames now? We can’t wait!

Distressing Wood Frames

Happy Holidays! xoxox,

—Catfight Craft

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