Antique furniture is becoming an increasing popular decor trend with renters and homeowners. From old looking oak rocking chairs, to dining tables and even dressers. Old is gold and this is evident from the hefty prices that antique pieces are sold at in stores. But the high prices are not for everyone especially those working to tight budgets, have active kids running around the house and pets with claws. So here are some tips that you could put into practice for turning that inexpensive piece of furniture into a vintage antique that looks authentic, expensive and be the envy of all your friends!
Since this is a DIY project, there are many ways you can go about achieving the different antique effects. Some are simpler than others, so we have detailed below how to achieve the most popular looks. Whichever method you choose to weather and distress your new wood, remember, experimenting is key to get the desired look. You may want to get some scrap wood to test on prior to starting on your piece of furniture. Remember to note the ratios you use so you can easily replicate the effect you like.
Before you get Started
Before commencing any type of wood painting project, you need to ensure the wood is free of dust and other particles in preparation for applying the stain/paint. The best way to do this is by using a Tack Cloth. This is a cloth that is treated with a tacky material designed to clean the wood for paint or stain treatment. If you are sanding the wood prior to painting, use the tack cloth after sanding.
Making use of Wood Stain for a Weathered Grey Effect
This method is simple and straight forward. The beauty of aged and antique furniture is the enhanced grain which helps to give it character. You might have noticed that weathered wood often comes in a gray color that is warm and with a cosy feel.
To replicate this colour, use Rust-oleum Weathered Grey wood stain which will achieve the sun bleached effect on the wood. After staining the wood with this product, be sure to wipe off the excess for a quality look.
Follow up the Rustoleum wood stain with a tinge of Minwax Mini Early American being sure to wipe it off with a clean cloth. This will give the wood a blue gray look.
We began by stating that DIY projects are experimental and mostly trial and error. As such, even when you choose this method, you will be guided by the result you get. Do you like what you see or not? Why the difference in results you might ask? Well, every wood is different and varies in color intensity, texture and hardness which affects the way in which the wood soaks up the stain, and ultimately the final result.
Glaze for a Rustic Barn Wood Effect
This another weathering method. It is similar to using wood stain and some argue the results are better. You will end up with something similar to a rustic barn wood and the best bit is all you need to do is use a glaze! To achieve this look, the first step is to create a perfect glaze that will work its magic when wiped over new wood.
For this, you can mix up General Finishes Van Dyke Brown glaze and Pitch Black glaze in the ratio 2:1 respectively. Mix the two glazes to get a consistent dark chocolate mixture. You can adjust the color by adding more of either of the two ingredients.
Apply the glaze over the wood using a flat painting brush. The glaze applied will immensely accentuate the grain of the wood, giving that authentic antique look. The Purdy Flat painting brush with medium stiff bristles is perfect for glazing projects.
For even more detail, you can tap the brush on a short stick over the wood to have drops fall on the wood to give an age freckled effect. Be sure to apply the glaze over the sides as well for a uniform look and always wipe off any excess glaze on the surface of the wood.
Use Paint for a Weathered Gray Effect
This is a slightly longer process that will need your dedication and time. It however still allows you the flexibility of dictating the end result of the wood. This method has 5 steps to it.
Step One: Get the Right Finish
All woods have different textures, so the first step before you get to weathering the wood is to get rid of all the man-made textures on the wood. Sand all surfaces including the edges and the corners ensuring that they are a lot less jagged. You can use a 120 grit sand paper but this totally depends on the texture of the wood.
Be sure not to get over enthusiastic while sanding the wood as there is another sanding process later on and you will need some parts still raised for great antiqued results.
Step Two: Painting
Apply a single coat of white paint on the wood. Be careful to apply it light and let the wood absorb most of the paint. You can use any white paint you so please without restrictions though for best results you should use latex semi-gloss paint. However, if you will be using the furniture outdoors, you will be better off using oil based paint. For indoor and outdoor furniture use:
Ensure you have paint brushes in a variety of sizes, as you may need to switch between them depending on your piece of furniture. The Presa 5-pack paint brush set will have you covered, plus they are super affordable!
Step Three: Sanding
In this step, use a paint stripping sandpaper preferably 80 grit. When you are sanding, only sand just enough for the wood to show on the high surfaces but still have sufficient amounts of the white paint left behind. You cannot go wrong on this step since there is, after all, no wrong or right way to go about it. If you will want more white on the wood ease back on the sanding process. If you will want more brown to shine through then, sand down to your desired look.
Step Four: Staining
In this step, you can use any dark colored stain you please. Use a cloth and rub it on your wood in up and down motions. The wood grains that you so intentionally let thrive after the second sanding process will soak up the stain beautifully while the areas still covered in white paint will turn into a beautiful looking old gray weathered wood.
Step five: Sealing
While you might have already achieved the weathered wood look by now, you cannot afford to ignore this step. Sealing the wood will help to preserve the results for longer. Now, the finish you make use of in this last step is dependent on several things. First, do you intend to have the furniture outdoors or indoors and which paint and stain type did you use? If you used a stain that is oil based, then water based sealants will do squat for you.
Oil based Sealant:
Water based Sealant:
Using Vinegar, Tea and Steel Wool to Create a Weathered Wood Effect
This is by far the most popular weathering method available online. And the beauty of it is that it is simple. All you will need to complete the weathering process using this method is:
- 2 jars
- Steel wool
- Black tea
- Vinegar (apple, balsamic, white)
Again, this is a 5 step process.
Step 1: Mix the steel wool and vinegar for 24 hours
You can decide to make use of a whole piece of steel wool or just a piece. If you use a whole piece of steel wool, you will have to fill the jar with vinegar. As for the length of time, the idea is to get the mixture looking rusty. You could have it settle for a few hours or a whole week. It all depends on how rusty or ‘muddy’ you want it to get. The ideal time to wait though is 24 hours.
Step 2: Brew Tea
After your steel wool is ready to stain the wood, proceed to brew tea in the second jar. Any tea will do just fine. You can use black chai tea like I did. To make the solution even darker, during the 10 minutes you allow it to settle, you can add coffee grounds into the solution. But while you can use any tea type you prefer, different tea types will yield different colored results. Feel free to experiment and have fun.
Step 3: Paint your wood with the Tea solution
You can use a dry rag to stain the wood with the tea solution. When you are done staining the entire surface, allow the stain time to dry. You will notice it getting lighter with time. The drying process will take about 30 minutes. Be careful not to make any drip marks as they will show since the tea mixture really does a great job in staining.
Step 4: Paint the steel wool and vinegar mixture
Apply the mixture with a paint brush. Ensure that the strokes you make are even and are along the grain of your wood. Allow time for the mixture to dry and then later sand it with very fine sandpaper.
Step 5: Apply a sealant
The last step is coating the wood with a sealant you prefer. You can use wax or any other sealer including polyacrylic and polyeurathane.
The above listed methods are just some of the ways you can weather your new wood to look old and rustic, and then use the wood to make antique furniture. The processes have been tried and yielded great results. But even then, they still leave a lot of room to work and experiment as you would please. Art is never perfect. As a matter of fact, it is the imperfections that make it beautiful and all the more attractive.