Get the 411 on Ballard Finishes

Almost every product Ballard sells is finished using one of four hand-applied techniques: “solid,” “rubbed,” “distressed” or “antiqued.” To make sure you know exactly what to look for when purchasing one of our pieces, we’ve put together these easy-to-understand explanations to help guide you.


Product with Solid Finish:

· The surface has been stained or painted to be consistent in color and texture with no “rubbed” areas, dings or dents. Some solid finishes do allow the wood grain to show through and is considered a traditional finishing technique.



Product with Rubbed Finish:

· The primary finish has been lightly rubbed along the edges and some feature areas, allowing the wood tone or secondary color beneath to peek through, creating a timeworn look.



Product with Distressed Finish:

· Distressing takes a rubbed finish a step further. In addition to rubbed edges and feature areas, some places are made to appear “worn over time” and may have some intentional dings or dents to give the piece a convincing aged appearance.


Product with Antiqued Finish:

· This finish goes through an accelerated aging process to give it an authentic antique look. Aging techniques can include light rubbing along some edges to allow the secondary finish to peek through, and physical distressing in the form of nicks, marks and/or stain in cracks or corners to add interest and depth. In some cases, surface glazing with a semi-transparent stain or paint may be used to enhance the patina.


Because nearly all of our finishes are hand applied, you should expect slight variations. If you have finish questions about a Ballard product you’re considering, call Customer Service to speak with one of product specialists

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.


  1. Reply


    September 12, 2010

    I love your dining chairs and tables and am interested in purchasing them to go with a banquette that I’m putting in my kitchen area. Since it is so close to my kitchen cabinets and wood floor, I need to match and/or coordinate with those finishes. Do you ever mail samples of your finishes to customers?

  2. Reply

    Ballard Designs

    August 20, 2010

    Denise: Well worn finishes have been around forever. It sounds like they would fit in with your antiques and decor beautifully. We feel that distressed finishes are here to stay! But, we can’t tell you that you won’t grow tired of them. We just love anything distressed. It has the look of being around for many years, which is the look we love!
    The Style Studio Team

  3. Reply

    Denise Turner

    August 19, 2010

    I love the time-worn pieces of furniture; antiqued and distressed. I would like to make some purchases, but concerned as to the length of this trend. I liked the shabby-chic look at one time, but have grown tired. My home is decorated in over-stuffed furniture and antiques. When I look to buy new, I am drawn to the distressed finishes.
    I love your products and magazine — keep up the good work!
    Thank you, Denise