How to create a black, distressed finish using only 4 items: sanding sponge, tack cloth, primer and lacquer.
Step 1: Products Used
Medium - fine sanding sponge
Rustoleum Painters Touch 2x Black Primer
Old Masters Brushing Lacquer
Step 2: Sand Surface & Remove Dust
Using a medium fine sanding sponge, sand all surfaces. The idea isn't to remove the existing finish, but to rough it up a tad. The surface should look chalky, even when you try to wipe away the dust. Next, remove all dust with a tack cloth.
Step 3: Apply Primer
Apply one coat of primer to entire surface. Leave flat while painting and until dry. This product covers so well, there is no need for black paint!
Tip: Walk around all sides of the piece you are painting to ensure you are not missing any spots.
Step 4: Once Dry, Distress!
This is when the piece comes to life! Using your sponge, begin sanding away (as much or as little) primer from all corners, edges and "high spots."
To prevent a scratched appearance, once you have sanded all edges, gently sand over the entire piece (even the areas you did not distress).
Step 5: Remove All Dust
Use your tack cloth to remove all dust.
Step 6: Apply Clearcoat
For this project, I used Old Masters Brushing Lacquer. Despite the name, it is a spray - not a brush - on product.
When it comes to clear coat application, applying several light coats is a must. I applied 4-5 light coats of lacquer, allowing it to dry between coats.
Note: Lacquer is very sensitive to temperature and humidity. If the conditions are outside of the range recommended on the package, do not use it.
An alternative (slower drying) option to a spray lacquer is a spray polyurethane. It dries more slowly and tends to be more forgiving.
Step 7: Ta Da!
That's it! Start to finish (in ideal temperature & humidity conditions), the project took less than one hour to dry completely.
For instructions on making the twin headboard shown in the photos (made from cabinet doors!):