How To Make Wood Look Weathered

How To Make Wood Look Weathered?

Using brand new, shiny wood for your DIY projects is usually a good thing. After all, it makes it look fresh and newly built.

However, there are some situations where you will want your wood to look weathered and old.

These rustic projects have a certain character to them, where the wood looks like it has history and age.

But how can you make new wood look like it’s weathered?

In our helpful guide below, we’re going to lay out a few different ways in which you can make your new, clean wood look like it’s weathered and been around a long time.

Remember to be careful when following the steps. If you’re inexperienced, get a professional to help you.

How To Make Wood Look Weathered?

Make The Wood Gray

To give your wood a sense of age and weatheredness, you can make it look gray and ashen.

This is all done via the process of staining, which is very easy to do if a little time-consuming.

First, you’ll want to get a mason jar and fill it with one and a half cups of white vinegar. Then get some 0000-grade steel wool.

This is the finest grade of steel wool. Put it in the jar and screw the lid on.

Since vinegar speeds up the rusting process, the steel wool will begin to rust over time.

This rusting will cause the vinegar to change its color, and the darkness of the color will all depend on how long you leave it – as well as how much wool you put in the jar in the first place.

When it’s done, you will paint the stained vinegar onto your wood.

If you want a subtle gray color, then you can leave the steel wool to soak for just half an hour.

If you want it a bit darker, then leave it a few more hours on top of that.

If you leave the wool to soak for two days, you will get a really silvery gray.

Lighter shades will work well with the blonder woods, while the darker shade will be good for woods with a heavy brown.

Whichever shade works best for making your wood look weathered, simply dip a paintbrush into the vinegar and paint it onto the wood.

As with all paints, wait for it to dry.

Add Some (Fake) Wear And Tear

Add Some (Fake) Wear And Tear

A properly weathered piece of wood will have plenty of wear and tear on it, with rough textures and chips.

Thankfully, you can fake a lot of these very easily. Plus, it’s a lot of fun!

For example, you can hit the wood with hammers and other blunt objects, roughing the surface and removing any perfect edges.

Additionally, you can drag some rough steel wool across the wood, which will effectively scratch it up in subtle ways.

Similarly, you can (after putting some safety goggles on and standing well back) toss a bag of screws against the wood.

This will create a random scatter pattern of scratches and dents, looking like the random results of aging and weathering.

A bag of nails works for it, too.

If you have a drill and a 1/16 inch drill bit, you can drill a few tiny holes to make it look like worms, and other creatures have gnawed and burrowed tiny holes into the wood.

These are only guidelines, though.

You can use whatever tools you have and make whatever dents and scratches you want. Just make sure to do it carefully.

Using Paint

Similar to the method of painting the vinegar on, you can paint your wood in specific ways to make it look weathered.

To do this, you need to use a mostly dry brush and use 3-4 different colors that match your scheme.

However, you want to paint them very thin and inconsistently, overlapping and lacking any thoroughness, without even waiting for each to dry.

You should even leave patches undone, allowing you to see the wood beneath.

Then let it dry overnight and come back with an orbital sander the following day.

Sand the wood carefully, wipe away the dust and add another thin coat of color.

Mixing A Richer Wood Stain

This method builds on the wool and vinegar approach from earlier.

Leave the wool in the vinegar for an extra-long time, even a month. This means that the vinegar will stain a really dark brown.

If the wool has dissolved, remove it carefully with rubber gloves and tongs.

Then get your paintbrush and paint some of the stain onto scrap wood as a test, letting it dry.

If the shade is as dark as you want, then properly lightly paint the stained vinegar solutions onto your wood, following the direction of the grain.

Let it dry. Once it has, if it’s still not dark enough, then add another coat.

Sun Bath Bleaching

This interesting method will only work on tannic woods.

So, if your wood is something like cedar or mahogany, you’ll be able to do it. Additionally, ensure the wood is untreated.

Next, mix baking soda and water (in equal amounts) in a plastic container.

Then cover your wood with thick coats of the mixture before leaving it to dry in the sun for 6+ hours. Leave it on sawhorses for this.

Once done, brush aside the dried mixture, rinse with water, and dry. The wood should be a lot grayer.

Final Thoughts

With these methods, your wood will look weathered and rustic. Always be careful following the steps.


Diarmuid Brock

I'm a carpenter by day and an amateur woodworker by night. I don't believe in limitations, and I love to help others. I'm here to answer your questions and make your life simpler. I craft and create with all-natural, reclaimed, and repurposed materials.

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