How to Artificially Age Wood

by James Florence


New paint makes a home look and feel like new, but there are times when a brand-new aesthetic doesn’t work for surfaces like wood and metal. Photo: American Ratings Corporation ©2020

These days, the old-fashioned look is all the rage, especially when it comes to home décor. If you’re installing a new door, fence, deck or similar wood feature, you’ll be glad to know there’s an easy, low-cost technique to artificially age wood and achieve an antique aesthetic.

What you’ll need

  • Vinegar
  • A small bucket or similar container
  • Steel wool

How it’s done

The day before application, put the steel wool in the container and fill it with vinegar. Over the next 24 hours, the vinegar will break down the steel wool, leaving behind iron particles. The next day, use a brush or roller (or, in the case of a large fence or deck, a pressure sprayer) to apply the iron/vinegar solution to your wood surface. As the wood absorbs the iron, it will react and take on a gray, weathered look.

Other techniques for artificially aging wood and metal

Here are some additional artificial aging techniques to give your remodeling project some vintage charm:

  • Light sanding wears away the shine of new paint, while heavier sanding can remove layers of paint to show underlying layers.
  • Staining with wood stains, tea, coffee and other dark liquids can add an antiqued look to fresh paint or shiny metal.
  • Glazing can give wood, metal and painted surfaces a vintage look.
  • Painting with a grayed-out, yellowed or chalk paint can provide an instantly aged look.

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