How to Age Wood – A Guide on How to Weather Wood Quickly
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Rustic-looking wood is highly appealing to many homeowners looking for that shabby-chic, lived-in look. It normally takes years to achieve this weathered look, as the wood needs to age and weather gradually as a result of wear and tear and exposure to the elements. But in this fast-paced world, we do not always have years to wait to achieve this look. What follows are details on how to weather wood quickly – you will have the look you desire in less than a weekend!
Table of Contents
- 1 How to Weather Wood
- 2 Recommended Products for Aging Wood
- 3 Aging Wood Techniques to Try at Home
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
How to Weather Wood
There are several different ways to weather your wood, but keep in mind that different woods react differently to each process. Always take into consideration what wood you are working with ,and keep in mind that while this may seem to be a simple process, you might not always achieve the results you are looking for. This is a great project for those with a sense of adventure, and it can be quite exciting to see the outcome.
Important Things to Remember When Aging Wood
Every piece of wood is unique, even if the comes from the same “batch”, so you will never be able to completely replicate the process. Each piece will look different, and this not due to any fault of yours. The benefit of aging wood is that each piece looks rustic and different, but this might not be what you require. If so, then rather opt for the route of painting or staining your wood.
Recommended Products for Aging Wood
You can weather your wood in several different ways. While there are methods of weathering wood that you can attempt at home, there are also specific store-bought products that can help make the process easier and quicker for you.
Grey Wood Stain
If you are looking to achieve a uniform grey wood look, then the grey wood stain is your go-to as it is the easiest method of achieving this look. Like the majority of wood stains, a grey wood stain just needs to be applied to the wood with a rag. You should then allow a few minutes, and then simply wipe away any residue.
Weathered Wood Accelerator
If you are looking to ensure that the wood keeps its imperfections and overall personality, then a weathered wood accelerator might just be your best option. Using a process that is very similar to the at-home method of using baking soda and vinegar to weather the item, this product causes a chemical reaction to take place on the wood’s surface. You can use either a brush or a rag to apply the accelerator, and the grey coloring will begin to show as the product starts to dry. What is great is this accelerator will offer a consistent grey finish and will provids a very authentic aged wood look.
Aged Wood Accelerator
Much like the weathered wood accelerator, this product also preserves the wood’s natural look and imperfections. The main difference is that this product is not grey, and is instead brown. Thus, you can expect a somewhat brown, rust-colored finish on your wood.
Aging Wood Techniques to Try at Home
In addition to specially made products, many household products can also be used to age your wood. To achieve the best results, rather use a light hand and repeat the process if necessary. Have fun, and do not be scared to improvise when aging wood.
Improvised Wear and Tear
When one thinks of aged wood, one naturally thinks of an imperfect texture. You can achieve this effect by trying the following techniques.
Ways to Improvise Wear and Tear
- Use hammers and crowbars to bang and beat up the wood. Remember that weathered wood is not perfect, and try to focus your attention on the edges.
- Take a bag of nails and screws and hit the wood with it. This will ensure an uneven, random texture. It is necessary to wear safety goggles if you are going to use this method.
- Using either a wire brush or steel wool, roughen up the wood up. Take it along the grain to make striations.
- Drill a bit or use a hammer to tap into the wood. This is an ideal way to create damage that looks similar to that caused by insects.
It is not necessary to use all four methods. Rather see what tools you have available and determine what finish you are hoping to achieve, and then use your discretion.
How to Grey Wood
You will see a variety of weathered wood on social media showing an ashen-grey color that is very similar to that of driftwood. To achieve this look, you only require a packet of steel wool and some vinegar. It is a simple process:
- Take a mason jar and fill it with vinegar, and then place a steel wool pad into the jar.
- Close the jar and allow the steel wood to rust, which will change the color of the vinegar.
- When the color has changed to something you like, you can then use the steel wool and brush it over your wood.
- You can influence the shade and color of the stain depending on the amount of steel wool and vinegar used.
If you are looking to achieve a subtle grey discoloration, leave the steel wool in the vinegar for 30 minutes, while you should leave it for two days if you are looking to achieve more of a silvery grey color. If your natural wood is brown or red, then we suggest a darker grey, while blond wood looks better with a light grey.
When you know that you have made the correct color solution, take the steel wool out of the jar and then use a paintbrush to apply the mixture to the wood’s surface. As with any stain, allow it to dry completely in order to see the true color on the wood before you decide to apply any additional coats.
Pro Tip: If you leave the steel wool in the vinegar for a month (or until it has completely dissolved), you will get a richer color. If you wish to use the mixture before the steel wool is completely dissolved, do not remove it from the jar with your bare hands; instead, rather use tongs or ensure you are wearing rubber gloves.
Weathering Wood Using Paint
You can begin this method by sanding down the wood and using a hammer on the perfect edges in order to ensure that you achieve a rustic, weathered look. Select three or four colors to paint the wood – we highly recommend making one of them white, as it offers contrast. Then apply consistent, thin layers of each color you have selected, keeping in mind that it is not a problem to have some of the wood remain uncovered. When applying the paint, you do not have to wait between layers for the paint to dry, as the wet paint will blend, thus adding to the effect you are looking for.
When you achieve the color, you are looking to allow the wood to dry overnight before you sand down the wood. Remember that you are looking to create imperfections with the sanding paper, as it simply adds to the aging wood. When you are happy with the color you have achieved, you can then take sealant or wood stain and apply a thin coat to preserve your wooden piece.
Bleaching Wood for a Weathered Effect
This method uses the elements to weather the wood, allowing the sun to simply bleach the wood. This method will only work on tannic wood, which includes mahogany, red oak, cedar, and oak. Always confirm what wood you are working with before you begin. You also want to avoid any wood that has already been treated, as it is highly likely that it is already sealed which will stop this method from working.
To bleach wood in the sun, you first need to ensure that you have a sunny spot to leave the wood and then set up your workspace accordingly. You will then take baking soda and mix a 1:1 ratio of baking soda and water to create a thick paste. Take a paintbrush and apply the paste as a thick coat directly onto the wood before allowing it to dry.
It should take roughly six hours to dry, and when it has you can remove the mixture using a brush, ensuring that you work along the wood’s grain. Then rinse off the wood and use a clean cloth to dry the wood. If you wish for your piece to look even more aged, you can repeat the baking soda process from the beginning. When you have achieved the color and aging you are looking for, you can use a wood stain or sealant to lock in the color.
Using Tea to Discolor Wood
This option for aging wood is great as you use ingredients that you already have in your home, meaning it is cost-effective, quick, and super easy to try. To begin with, you will need to follow the steps that were advised in the vinegar and steel wool process, whereby you would fill a jar halfway up with vinegar and leave the steel wool in the vinegar to sit for a day.
The longer you leave the wool, the darker the vinegar will become.
Once you have created the vinegar liquid to your liking, simply make a cup of tea. Tea is great as it contains tannins that will help you in achieving a darker finish. Do not combine the tea and vinegar. Prepare your wood by sanding it down to ensure your liquids will adhere to it when you begin applying them. Next, take your tea and brush it onto the wood, ensuring that it has penetrated the wood before allowing it to dry. When you are sure it has dried, you can apply the vinegar solution.
While the vinegar solution is drying, the aging process will continue to take place, so you must check that the solution is completely dry before deciding to apply a second coat. When dried, if you have not achieved the look you require, then simply add another coat. Remember to seal the wood when you have achieved the look you require in order to protect it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Weathered Wood Be Sealed?
Yes, and you can use one of the following ways to seal wood: Apply a coat of polyurethane or wood varnish, apply a coat of an oil-based sealant such as tung oil or linseed oil, or take a combination of sealants and stains to seal the wood.
How Can I Remove Spots in My Finish?
Once your wood has dried and has been sanded down, you can then reapply your chosen aging method, but be careful of how you apply it. Spots are normally caused by closed grains, over-sanding, or when a solution has been watered down (to lighten the color) or applied too thinly.
Can You Reverse Aged Wood?
It will take a little TLC and effort, but you should be able to bring weathered and old wood back to life. The best treatment for bringing dried-out and old wood back to life is boiled linseed oil. If your wood has started to rot or is physically damaged, you will need to sand the affected areas away or remove them before you start applying any stains or sealants.
Why Do My Wooden Planks Have Different Colors?
As we have advised, wood can be difficult to work with in that you will not always achieve the results you were looking for. So, even if you follow the same method on all of your wooden planks, there is a strong likelihood that the planks will be different in color – it just is what it is. When aging wood, the majority of people are looking to achieve a mixed-color look. if you are working with darker wood and have darker and lighter planks, you can slightly sand down the darker planks to lighten them slightly. Another option is to reapply your solution to make the wood lighter or darker as required. If you think of an old tool shed or barn, the planks of the wood are never all the same color; the result of years of exposure to the elements has weathered each piece of wood differently, and this is the same effect you will achieve.
Is It Necessary to Prepare the Wood Before You Begin Aging it?
Preparation is necessary just like when you prepare the wood before staining and sealing. You need to ensure that the surface of the wood is treatment-free and bare, and that any stains or sealants have been removed before beginning with any aging process. You also want to open the grain, which will allow more of the solution to be absorbed and thus provide an even finish. This can be achieved by sanding the wood. The first step is always to ensure that your work area is prepared so that you do not damage any surfaces when working.
What Causes Watermarks to Form on Artificially Aged Wood?
Watermarks can be a result of a layer of sealant or stain that has been applied too thickly, and therefore requires longer to dry. To avoid this, apply a thinner coat and ensure the environment you are working in has adequate ventilation and that it is not too cold. But do not panic if there is a watermark – it is simple to buff it out!