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Distressing (or weathered look) in the decorative arts is the activity of making a piece of furniture or object appear aged and older, giving it a "weathered look", and there are many methods to produce an appearance of age and wear. Distressing is viewed as a refinishing technique although it is the opposite of finishing in a traditional sense. In distressing, the object's finish is intentionally destroyed or manipulated to look less than perfect, such as with sandpaper or paint stripper. For example, the artisan often removes some but not all of the paint, leaving proof of several layers of paint speckled over wood grain underneath. This becomes the "finished" piece.
Distressing has become a popular design style and decorative art form. The artisan attempts a rustic, attractive, one-of-a-kind appearance or vintage look. The final appearance is often called the patina.
Distressing can be applied to a variety of surfaces and materials such as wood, glass, metal, plastic, stone, concrete, plaster, and paint. Solid pine furniture in particular is one of the most ideal furniture types to apply distressing to. The Shabby chic style has made both distressing and antiquing popular. The technique is sometimes applied to electric guitars, where it is referred to as relicing.