How to Distress Hardback and Softback Books

If you've ever wanted distressed books for your home décor but couldn't find them, I am going to show you How to Distress Hardback and Softback Books.  

How to Distress Hardback and Softback Books pinterest pin.

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I love adding books to my home décor.  I especially love the old and crusty ones that are distressed.  But it's sometimes hard to find those, so I devised a way to distress thrift store books to look old and crusty.  

Vintage cans on distressed books.

How to Distress Books

If you are unable to find authentically vintage books, there is a way you can distress books.  Now some book purists would be upset to hear of us distressing books.  But in my defense, I usually distress thrift store books that are already pretty beat up.

Books from the thrift store.

I was shopping at the thrift store earlier this week and couldn't find the vintage books I was looking for.  But I did find some old books that I knew could be distressed.

How to Distress Soft Cover Books

How to distress soft back books.

Soft Back books are super easy to find at the thrift store.  I like to stock up on them when I find them on sale for less than $1 a piece.  Garage sales are also an excellent place to find inexpensive soft cover books.

How to remove the cover of a softback book.

The soft papery covers are easily removed by holding the book in one hand and the cover in the other.  Slowly tear the cover downward.  

How to remove the cover of a softback book.

Flip the book over and remove the other side the same way.  Peel off any of the cover that remains.  If there are pieces of the cover that cannot be peeled off, you can use sandpaper to sand them off.  

How to Distress Hardback Books

Hardback books are slightly (and only s l i g h t l y) more involved to distress.  

How to distress hard back books.

Step 1:  Start by removing the dustjacket.  If you like the color of your book, proceed to Step 4.  If you do not like the color of the book and want to remove the cover, go to Step 2.  

How to distress hard back books.

Step 2:  Open the hardback book.  With a utility knife, cut the paper inside the cover, near the spine, through to the cover.  Repeat the same process on the other side of the book.    

How to distress and hardback book- remove the cover.

Step 3:  Once the paper has been cut, you will be able to tear the cover of the book by holding the book in one hand and ripping the cover down with the other hand.  


How to distress and hardback book- sand with sander.

Step 4:  If you like the color of the cover of your hard back book (say that 5 times fast), you can distress it by sanding.  I like to use my trusty mouse sander because it's easy and quick.  But you can totally use sandpaper and achieve the same result.  Make sure to sand the spine and the front / back covers, paying special attention to the edges where they would naturally be worn.

Distressed Thrift Store Books.

I love the look of distressed books!  I like the soft cover ones with the covers torn off.  I think an entire shelf filled with their weathered neutral goodness would look so good.  I also love the look of the distressed hardback books.  In the photo above, the third book down is a hardback book with the cover torn off.  The book on the bottom is the one that I distressed with my sander.  I like them both!  

White cupboard with vintage finds and distressed books.

I have placed both distressed soft back and hard back books on the cupboard in my living room.  I love the way they look with my many vintage décor pieces.  

How to Distress Books.

They look so good horizontally with other things placed on top.  They also look good in a group sitting vertically on a shelf.  I love the look of these Distressed Hardback and Softback Books.