Aging Wood: Make the New Look Old

Wood planks
  • 2-40 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-500
What You'll Need
Lye-based oven cleaner
Petroleum jelly
Shoe polish
Blow torch
White vinegar or cleaner
Steel wool
Tea bags

Are you looking to give your new wood that aged look? All you need are the right materials and this guide to help you get started. All the materials can be picked up from the local hardware store.

Step 1 - Prepare the Work

Take the wood to be treated to a place where you can work easily, like your work room or garage.

Step 2 - Safety

Protect yourself with gloves, overalls, and other safety gear.

Step 3 - Instructions for Using Tools

Make sure to read the directions before using any tools or substance you're unfamiliar with.

1. The Natural Technique

The easiest way to make a new piece of wood look old is to place it under direct sunlight on a slab. It should not have direct contact with the ground, because if it does, the dampness will hinder the aging. This technique is extremely simple, but takes weeks to get the desired effect.

2. The Graying Effect

Weathered boards on a deck

Here, the wood almost turns gray with traces of the original wood peeking out. Get this look by spraying the wood with an oven cleaner. Make sure it is lye-based since lye is a corrosive substance. After, spray the wood with a layer of white vinegar. The result is a perfectly aged gray wood.

3. The Blow Torch Method

Some wood has either black or dark brown patches. This is artificially achieved by using a blow torch on the surface of the wood. You can use a blow torch, but exercise caution while using it. You can also consider testing this method on a piece of scrap wood to get a proper feel for the technique that will get you the look you want.

4. The Easy Way

Shoe polish will give wood a natural aged look. Get a brown shoe polish, and apply it with the brush. Keep rubbing so that it seeps into the wood.

5. Petroleum Jelly

Examine and mark the areas you want to be aged, and apply petroleum jelly to them. Now, paint the wood completely. Take a towel to lightly scrub over the marked areas. As you scrub the grains of the wood will be visible, creating the distressed look.

6. The Barn Look

Do you want the weathered look with dents, nicks, or scratches? If so, then beat the wood surface with a hammer and sand it to get the old barn look. You can combine this method with others to discolor the wood as well.

7. Good Old Coffee

Another way to age wood is to sand the wood, pour coffee over it, and rub it in mud. Wipe the dirt away and apply several coats of Briwax.

8. The Inexpensive Method

pouring liquid into a glass cup

In a jar, mix white vinegar with fine steel wool and tea bags, close the lid, and let it sit for two days. Sand the wood surface and scrub with the fine steel wool you've soaked. Use rags to wipe the wood when you're done. You will notice the wood changing color.

9. Effects on Different Wood

The above method has a different effect based on the type of wood you are using. Oak will show a blackening effect, light pine will turn golden red, and red cedar will show gray or pink textured effect. Some of these other steps may have different looks as well, so testing out your aging method first with your choice of wood is always a good idea.