Does anyone have any ideas on how to make wood look weathered?

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Original Post

This isn't actually for something I'm going to sell--it's for a personal project. I bought a couple of unfinished wood picture frames, and I'd like to give them a weathered look--like that grey looking wood that's been outside for a long time.

Does anyone have any ideas how I could do this, short of actually leaving the frames outside for a year? :P


Posted at 4:06 pm Jun 2, 2009 EDT


There may be a stain that would be on the gray side that might work. Stain it then sand it some. Experiment first on a piece of wood to get the look you like. Also destressing the frame would add to the weathered look.

Posted at 5:59 pm Jun 2, 2009 EDT

I agree with barbara - the stain you might use on a deck - they are somewhat transparent but a hint of color. Maybe try two different colors too. Then sand and beat it with the claw or a hammer or srewdriver or whatever.

Posted at 6:07 pm Jun 2, 2009 EDT

What about rubbing it down with some bleach?? Then let it sit outside for a few days??

Posted at 6:17 pm Jun 2, 2009 EDT

crochetgal says

If you tap on them with some chains you can get that 'worn' look...

Posted at 6:19 pm Jun 2, 2009 EDT

nancyzl says

Min-wax makes a variety of stains, you need to let it dry well since it looks different when wet. It's a good product.

Posted at 6:21 pm Jun 2, 2009 EDT

I'm happy to share an excellent trick I used on our house siding (lapped cypress). Some call this mix "Sweet and Sour". Do a search on it and you'll see some pictures of the effect.

This will give you a grey/silver barnwood look, but it works differently on each species, depending on the tannins or inherent chemicals in the wood.

It actually penetrates the surface and causes a chemical reaction, so it looks better than just using a grey paint/wash.

(( Use the amounts below as a ratio to determine the amounts for your specific needs. ))

Place a pad of 0000 (extra fine) steel wool in a gallon of vinegar. Let it sit overnight. The next day you should notice that some of the steel wool has actually dissolved in the vinegar. Strain it into a container, trying to keep out as much of the metal bits as possible (although a slow-going process, coffee filters work great!)

That new mixture is then mixed with water to form the final solutions. I have found that 1-to-4 (vinegar to water) mix works well on cypress and pine. This gave a relatively light grey/silver look. If you use less water and more vinegar, you'll get a darker effect, so be sure to experiment.

One note: Oak is very easy to darken with this. To grey oak, you'll want to use very little vinegar and mostly water.

Posted at 9:40 pm Jun 2, 2009 EDT

WoodNGoods says

Yup Stout is right. - we call that "ebonizing" wood. You can turn a piece of oak to black using that process.

Depending on what type of wood you have, if it doesn't darken up you can try soaking it in tea water first. The tea will provide the tannin that is needed to turn color.

Posted at 9:44 pm Jun 2, 2009 EDT

i've done wooden frames by painting them with gold or silver metallic acrylic paint, then overpainting with a dark color. when it's dry, i use very fine sandpaper along the edges and wherever else to expose the lighter paint underneath.

i've also used the crackle coat, which works very well - assuming you don't mind a REALLY weathered look.

Posted at 9:44 pm Jun 2, 2009 EDT

Another thing to do - which can be done in conjunction with the above trick (be sure to do it before, though) is to use a wire brush, stroking in the direction of the grain.

What this will do is remove some of the softer sapwood, leaving streaks of heartwood. Also, it frays the surface so you don't have that out-of-the-mill (or aka "mill glaze" or "planer glaze") look.

Depending on your taste, you may like the look of simulated powder post beetle holes which can be added with the tip of an awl, placed randomly around the wood.

Posted at 9:45 pm Jun 2, 2009 EDT

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