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Artfully Aged Wood Finishes

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Bring out the natural beauty of wood in dramatic new ways with these decorative staining and aging techniques.

Four decorative wood finishes

Project Overview

Skill Level

Beginner

Estimated Time

1 day

Estimated Cost

$$$$$

Tools & Materials

Tools

  • White vinegar (pickled finishes)
  • Random-orbit sander
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • 220-grit sanding sponge
  • Electric drill (except for pickled wood)
  • 6-in wire wheel brush (except for pickled wood)
  • Clamps (aged pickled wood)

Materials

  • #00 steel wool (pickled wood)
  • Minwax water-based wood conditioner, quart (aged stained wood, aged charred wood)
  • Minwax water-based stain, quart, Aegean (aged stained wood)
  • Rust-Oleum wood stain, Kona and Summer Oak (aged charred wood)
  • Minwax Polycrylic satin polyurethane, quart

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

Missing anything? Shop Online

Instructions

Each finish requires its own set of tools and materials you’ll need to purchase before beginning. Some finishes rely on the chemistry of the wood itself, so colors may vary from the results shown and from board to board in the same wood species.

Plain Pickled Finish

Step 1

Place two clean steel wool pads in a jar with two cups of distilled white vinegar. Allow the steel wool to soak for 12 to 24 hours. (The longer the steel wool soaks, the deeper the color produced by the solution.) Pour the mixture through a coffee filter over a glass jar to remove the bits of steel wool.

Good to Know

The solution you create reacts with chemicals in the wood called tannins. Different wood species will produce different results, as will different boards of the same species. Test the finish on a scrap board before committing to it on a project.

Step 2

Smooth the wood surface with 120-grit sandpaper. With a foam brush, apply enough vinegar solution to soak the wood. Work quickly from the wet to the dry areas of the wood and avoid leaving brushstrokes or drips. Let the wood dry completely.

Good to Know

If you notice a slightly rusty appearance on the surface, don’t worry. That will disappear with the next step.

Step 3

Using a light touch with the electric sander, gently sand the surface just enough to remove the raised grain. (You can also use a 220-grit sanding sponge for this step.) Vacuum and wipe the surface clean.

Step 4

Pickled wood finish

Brush on two coats of Polycrylic finish, sanding lightly between coats.

Aged Stained Wood Finish

Step 1

Texturing wood with a wire wheel brush

If this is your first experience texturing wood, practice on a piece of scrap. Attach a wire wheel brush to an electric drill and set the drill to its maximum speed. Clamp the wood on a flat surface and brush the wood surface with the brush rotating in the direction of the grain. The brush will wear away the soft portions of the wood between the growth rings or grain lines. Continue brushing until you can feel noticeable ridges on the wood surface.

Good to Know

The longer you brush, the greater the texturing you’ll produce for a worn and weathered look. Avoid brushing at a right angle to the grain as you work.

Step 2

Lightly sand the wood surface with a 220-grit sanding sponge to remove any splinters. Vacuum and wipe the surface clean.

Step 3

Apply water-based wood conditioner and let dry. Then apply a water-based stain (Aegean shown), allow it to penetrate the wood for five minutes, and wipe off the excess. Let the stain dry overnight.

Step 4

Lightly sand just enough with a 220-grit sanding sponge to remove the tiny whiskers of wood raised by the stain.

Step 5

Aged stained wood finish

Brush on two coats of Polycrylic finish, sanding lightly between coats.

Aged Pickled Wood Finish

Step 1

Attach a wire wheel brush to an electric drill and set the drill to its maximum speed. Clamp the wood on a flat surface and brush the wood surface with the brush rotating in the direction of the grain. Continue brushing until you can feel noticeable ridges on the wood surface.

Step 2

Lightly sand the wood surface to remove any splinters. Vacuum and wipe the surface clean.

Step 3

Place two clean steel wool pads in a jar with two cups of distilled white vinegar. Allow the steel wool to soak for 12 to 24 hours. (The longer the steel wool soaks, the deeper the color produced by the solution.) Pour the mixture through a coffee filter over a glass jar to remove the bits of steel wool.

Step 4

With a foam brush, apply enough vinegar solution to soak the wood. Work quickly from the wet to the dry areas of the wood and avoid leaving brushstrokes. Let the wood dry completely.

Step 5

Using a light touch with the electric sander, gently sand the surface just enough to remove the raised grain. (You can also use a 220-grit sanding sponge for this step.) Vacuum and wipe the surface clean.

Step 6

Aged pickled finish

Brush on two coats of Polycrylic finish, sanding lightly between coats.

Aged Charred Wood Finish

Step 1

Attach a wire wheel brush to an electric drill and set the drill to its maximum speed. Clamp the wood on a flat surface and brush the wood surface with the brush rotating in the direction of the grain. Continue brushing until you can feel noticeable ridges on the wood surface.

Step 2

Lightly sand the wood surface to remove any splinters. Vacuum and wipe the surface clean.

Step 3

Apply water-based wood conditioner and let dry. Then apply a stain (Kona shown), allow it to penetrate the wood for five minutes, and wipe off the excess. Allow the stain to dry overnight.

Step 4

Using 120-grit sandpaper, sand until you see light ribbons of wood emerge from the stained wood. Stop sanding before the surface becomes smooth; you should be able to feel a soft ribbed surface.

Step 5

Apply stain (Summer Oak shown), allow it to penetrate the wood for five minutes, wipe off the excess, and let dry.

Step 6

Charred-look wood finish

Brush on two coats of Polycrylic, sanding lightly between coats.