Distressed: This is a technique in which the finish of the wood is naturally aged to give an antique look. There are many different options when it comes to how the finish is distressed. This is one of many multi phase finishing processes. The first image is sand thru and the second is crackle. There is also physically distressed and fleck distressed. Physically distressed is when the wood is actually physically damaged with chains, hammers etc to give it a weathered look. Fleck distressed is when there are actually dark splatters applied to the wood in a spray pattern or any random pattern.
Natural: This is when the wood is left its natural color and is just covered with a clear coat to protect the wood. All the wood's grains are left very visible and the wood's natural beauty is intensified. The image below is cherry finished natural.
Paint: This is where the wood of the project is painted. This offers an endless variety of color options and can create a very custom look. All of the grain is covered and a very seamless look is created. This protects the wood as well as allows you to incorporate many different options into your projects look.
Paint and Glaze: This is where the wood is painted then a contrasting glaze is applied to the wood and wiped off. The glazes will adhere in the natural nooks and imperfections in the wood as well as along moldings etc to provide a contrast and complimentary color.
Stain: This allows you to add color to the wood without covering the natural beauty of the grain of the wood. Stains vary from a light to dark and many different options on the color spectrum. A stain is then covered with 2 finish coats which will protect the wood this is a clear coat varying in options from matte to high gloss.
Stain and Glaze: this is when the wood is stained then a contrasting glaze is applied to the wood and wiped off. The glazes will adhere in the natural nooks and imperfections in the wood as well as along moldings etc to provide a contrast and complimentary color.