How to Achieve a Distressed Wood Finish

DECOR & DESIGN

Reclaimed or aged wood is perfect for creating a more homey space, distressed wood has a way of softening any room.



There are several ways to achieve a beautifully worn look, none of which include having to wait for years to get it. Once you learn how to make wood look old, you can transform pristine pieces into items with character. Below, learn two ways to cheat time and make your wood furniture and decor look like it’s been around for years instead of fresh from the store.


Vinegar/Tea Method


ITEMS NEEDED

  • White vinegar

  • Steel wool

  • Glass jars

  • Paintbrush

  • Black tea

  • Hot or room-temperature water

  • Sandpaper

  • Paste wax or polyurethane

  • Plastic gloves

  • Rags

  • Make the Vinegar Solution


METHOD


1. Pour vinegar into the glass jar, filling it about halfway. Shred the steel wool and add it to the jar. Let the steel wool and vinegar sit in the jar uncovered for at least 24 hours. Letting it sit for longer will create a darker look but don’t allow rust to form, or you’ll end up with an orange stain.



3. Once your solution is ready, mix hot water and tea in another glass jar. The tannins in the tea will react with the steel-wool-and-vinegar solution to create a darker finish.


4. Sand the Wood


5. If your piece is already painted or finished, you’ll need to sand it before applying the stain—otherwise, the solution won’t adhere to the wood.

Paint on the Tea


6. Use the paintbrush to apply the tea to the wood. Allow the tea to dry and then apply the solution to the wood. The ageing process will continue as it dries, so you may want to wait before applying a second coat of the solution.

Protect the Finish


6. When you’re happy with your newly aged wood, protect the finish with a paste wax or polyurethane.


Stain Method


ITEMS NEEDED

  • Sandpaper

  • Paintbrush

  • Hot or room-temperature water

  • Paste wax or polyurethane

  • Plastic gloves

  • Wood stain

  • Rags

  • Sand the Wood

METHOD

1. Sand the wood to get rid of any coatings and to create a smooth surface. If you’re using a stain specifically designed to create a weathered look, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.


2. If you’re using regular wood stain to DIY the look, start by brushing water on the wood. This allows less of the stain to be absorbed into the wood.


3. Let the wood dry a few seconds and then brush on the stain. Immediately wipe off any excess stain with a rag. Let the wood dry and repeat if necessary. Finish with paste wax or polyurethane.


4. When it comes to aged wood, a few dents and dings are a good thing. These can be made before using staini

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