DIY: How to weather wood |

DIY: How to weather wood

This past weekend I spent some time researching simple design ideas on how to make new wood look old.  The goal was to keep costs low and make 3-pieces of new 2×12 Douglas Fir Wood look weathered or have the appearance of reclaimed wood.  The following is a step-by-step process for a do-it-yourself project on how to weather wood.  I used the following examples of weathered wood to use as an inspiration for the look I was going for.


Samples of Weathered & Reclaimed Wood


How to Weather Wood:


  • Wood (I used Douglas Fir)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Steel Wool (I used Grade 2)
  • Bucket
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Plastic Drop Cloth (recommended)
  • Wax (optional)


How to weather wood:  Materials


Step 1:  Add the apple Cider Vinegar to the bucket and soak the steel wool in it.

Note:  A chemical reaction occurs between the acidity in the vinegar and the steel wool, creating a dark tinted solution.  The longer you let the two set, the darker the tint.  I waited about two hours.


Steel Wool soaked in Apple Cider Vinegar

Step 2:   Using my rubber gloves, I used the steel wool to apply the solution to two test strips of wood – one 2×4 and the other 2×12.

Note:  I recommend this step so that you can practice the application process as well as figure out how dark you want your look to be.  Below is what the wood looked like after one application and after letting it dry ~ about 20 min in 75 degree weather (note this may vary for you).  Notice that the wood turned a slight tint of gray and it had some dark specks in certain areas.


How to weather wood: 1st Application


Step 3:  Continue applying solution and allowing to dry every time to check for the desired tint.   In the end, I did 4 applications over a 24-hr period.


Note:  You may want to carry your piece of wood inside to check how it will look like with indoor lighting.  Note that it will look darker inside than outside.

Here’s my test strip after several applications.  The top portion has two passes of the solution, the two on the bottom right and left were a total of three passes, and the darkest one was a 4th pass.    That was it for me, 4 passes and I had created a weathered wood look on a new piece of wood.


How to weather wood: Test Strip


Step 4:  Once you determine the tint you want, move on to the pieces you will be using and follow the process.  Below you can see how the solution starts to dry after the first pass.


How to Weather Wood:  1st Pass on 2″x12″


Step 5:  (This is optional)  I applied a wax coat to the wood after it had dried using a cloth to give it a little bit of a shine and seal the finish.  This was just my preference and may not be a necessary step for you; but a seal will give it a nice shine to the final weathered look.  Finally, I recommend you use a cloth that will not give off lint as you’re applying the wax so that the lint wont stick to the wood.


How to weather wood: Final look with Wax


I used this wood to build my own platform bed.  All in all I spent about $60 and really enjoyed the process.  I will do another DIY on how to build your own platform bed in a future blog.


How to Weather Wood: Finish Product

One last tip on how to weather wood, if there is any sap in the wood, use a razor to scrape away and then apply the vinegar solution.  Although those spots were a little lighter in the end, I think it added character in creating a weathered look on the new wood.
Remember, this can be used on any of your carpentry DIY projects to create a reclaimed wood finish!  I will definitely use the same process when doing my DIY coffee table project.


What did you think of this DIY?  Did you try this process?  Share your photos with me and I will post them on my blog!






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13 People have left comments on this post

» Siao said: { Aug 4, 2012 - 01:08:28 }

What wax did you use?

For your final product, how long did it take for that final stain color to settle in? as soon as it dried or did it continue to darken over time?

Additionally, did you do anything after the vinegar solution like wipe it down to get rid of the smell or did that smell eventually go away?

Thank you!

» Johan said: { Aug 4, 2012 - 09:08:06 }

Hi Siao,

I used Minwax – Paste Finishing Wax. It gave it a little extra shine in the end and helps protect the finish.

After I applied the last pass, I let it stand for about 3-hrs and had the final stain color I wanted. Once it dried, the tone was set. I let it sit outside for a couple more hours and the smell went away completely.

I hope this helps! Good luck!

» Chris said: { Nov 15, 2012 - 07:11:07 }

Trying this project right now. My wood was straight from the lumber yard, not sealed or stained as far as I could tell. My stain is not producing the same results yours did. It is turning red, with a little bit of grey tinge to it.

Any hints/ideas? I’m on the 2nd coat and getting a little frustrated.


» Johan said: { Nov 15, 2012 - 08:11:43 }

Hi Chris – sorry to hear your project is not turning out the way you would like.

Are you using douglas fir wood? This is the type of wood I used, I am sure other types will have different reactions to the solution. I

I allowed the apple cider to react with the steel wool for two hours – the longer you leave it the darker the solution will turn out.

I started my project on a Friday, applied a coat and waited over night. Saturday, I applied a coat in the morning and then again in the afternoon after it was still too light. Ended up doing a fourth coat on Sunday morning (by this time the steel wool/cider solution was a dark frothy brown) and finally by the afternoon it was the finish as shown on the picture.

The specks eventually went away.

I hope this helps – i recommend using a test strip as well to experiment with the coating/time so that you are not committing all your wood at once. In the end, results will vary based on these factors.

Good luck

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