Distressing is a process of making wood appear aged or older, by giving it the appearance of wear. This refinishing technique is popular in the decorative arts for producing a one-of-a-kind vintage appearance. The wood surface is intentionally destroyed or manipulated to look less than perfect. Distressing can be applied to a variety of surfaces and materials to achieve a rustic or attractive patina.

Distressed, colorwashed cabinets
Distressed lime paint over Venetian plaster