How To Make New Wood Look Old


A while back, I showed you the headboard I made for my son early last spring.  I have had people email and ask how I got the weathered look and I promised I would do a tutorial. 

Today is the day!

Joey’s headboard was made with new wood.  With today’s tutorial, I am using a desk that I stripped down to natural wood. 

Here is the before shot:

Pretty basic desk.  I stripped the top only as I am going to be painting the body. 

Ok.  Now the cool part.  We will weatherize this wood with three things from your home! 

Steel wool
Tea bags
That is it.  Oh, and some water.  Got water?!

STEP ONE:   Tear or cut the steel wool into small pieces and put inside a sealable jar.

STEP TWO:  Fill jar with white vinegar so that the steel wool is completely covered  – then seal it shut.

STEP THREE:   Set it aside and let it sit for a minimum of 24 hours, but preferably 48 hours.
Once the 24-48 hours has passed, move on to step four…
STEP FOUR:   Boil water and pour about 1/2 cup into another jar.  Add 2 tea bags. Black tea is best but I just use whatever I have in my pantry.  For this tutorial, I used spiced chai tea.  You will see in the picture that I used about 3 cups of water and multiple tea bags – that was just to make extra.   How much you actually use will depend on the total surface area you are working with but remember, it is basically water so it goes a long way.

STEP FIVE:  Brush tea mixture on with a clean paint brush.  Let it dry completely. 

STEP SIX:  Once the tea wash dries completely, brush the steel wool mixture on.

You will see it start to darken almost immediately.

STEP SEVEN:  Let it dry completely.  Then give it a light sanding with a 120 block.

You can see the obvious difference between the desk and the piece behind it that was fairly similar to the original finish on the desk.  Below is a picture of the new, weathered finish against the drawer of the desk.  Big difference.
STEP EIGHT, OPTIONAL:  You can either leave it as is, or stain it.  I am going to leave this one as is and just do a clear wax once I’m finished with painting the body.  I will show you the finished piece next week. 

Keep in mind that the end result will vary depending on the type of wood you are using and how new it is. Based on my experience however, you will still get a great look!

I hope this gives you some ideas.  Let me know if you have any questions.

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION:  I did nothing more to this desk other than the steps above.  No painting.  No staining.  Just wanted to be clear about that in case there is any confusion.  The color you see is the end result of brushing on the tea and steel wool washes.

Tonight is the night that the Ducks win the Pac 12 and a trip to the Rose Bowl!! (Yes, I’m a little confident.) We will be headed to the game soon to tailgate.  Tomorrow we will be up bright and early to go hunt for our Christmas tree. Then Sunday is the icing on the cake….Cousin Eddie and the Griswald family will be in the house :)

The fun is officially starting!

Have a great weekend!!

Linking to:

Funky Junk Interiors
The DIY Showoff
Be Different Act Normal
Homemaker On A Dime
Amaze Me Monday at Dittle Dattle
More the Merrier at DIY Home Sweet Home
Get Your Craft On at Today’s Creative Blog
Debbie Do’s Newbie Party
Metamorphisis Monday
Dittle Dattle
Crafts Keep Me Sane at Keeping It Simple
Home Stories A To Z
Time To Shine at Diamond In The Stuff
Thrifty Decor Chick
A Bowl Full of Lemons
DIY By Design
Trash 2 Treasures at Kammy’s Korner
Project Queen
Tip Junkie
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Fireflies and Jellybeans
Primitive and Proper
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
Restore Interiors
Saved By Suzy
Somewhat Simple
My Repurposed Life
Transformation Thursday at The Shabby Creek Cottage
Delightful Order
Frugalicious Fridays at Finding Fabulous
Fingerprints On The Fridge
Chic On A Shoestring
Miss Mustard Seed
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Freckled Laundry
Tater Tots and Jello

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  1. Wendy @HerBallistic Garden says:

    Okay…That was awesome! But, you didn't paint it to give it the grey colour? It just turned that colour when you aged it? Sorry…it just looks so good,I'm confused! xo

  2. shellyandrade says:

    Cool tutorial! I've never heard of this before & will give it a try:)

    Have a great time with uncle eddie – lol!


  3. Laura @ Our Prairie Home says:

    How in the world do you figure stuff out???? Totally pinned this! Thanks for sharing, Shari!

  4. BeingBrook says:

    This is one of my favorite wood treatments! I did a desk and headboard last month using this aging technique! It's like a fun garage science project!

  5. Rosemary@villabarnes says:

    Looks great. Nice tutorial.

  6. Cassie @ Primitive & Proper says:

    i really need to try this- allison at fab rehab recently did something similar and the look was so cool!

  7. Cassie @ Primitive & Proper says:

    i really need to try this- allison at fab rehab recently did something similar and the look was so cool!

  8. Kammy Wielenga says:

    thanks for sharing a great tutorial!!! Never heard of this before!

  9. Wow, what a difference! I love the aged look on furniture, it's so perfect. Great idea and execution!

  10. Suzy says:

    Wow…what a cool little trick! I had no idea…thanks for sharing.

  11. Tatiana Doria says:

    Great tips. I love the look of old wood.
    I have discovered your blog at Delightful Order, and I´m sooo glad!

  12. Marci {TImber and Lace} says:

    Thanks for sharing this tutorial. I have been putting off redoing my bedroom furniture because I haven't found the right finish. This might be it!

  13. TheVirginiaHouse says:

    Just what I needed to finish a table I am working on!
    Thank you!!!

    Check out my 31 Bag Giveaway!

  14. Inspired by you says:

    I really want to try this. I'll check out the completed desk.

  15. I am very interested in trying this for myself. Thanks for a great tutorial. I'll be looking for the just the right piece for this finish.

  16. Thanks for the great tutorial. I'm definitely going to have to try this on the perfect piece of new wood:-)

  17. Tina Schiefer says:

    In our world of "faking it" for a living (day job) …this is a technique I've never seen before. Thanks for sharing…

    Just became a follower…

  18. Heaven's Walk says:

    What a neat technique, Shari! Thanks for the great tut! :) Love the way your desk turned out!
    xoxo laurie

  19. thank you for explaining your process – this is so imaginative! I need to refinish a framed mirror that once was attached to a bureau chest and had been considering lime paste wax, but this might be a better alternative. Your results are superb! thanks again, Diane

  20. Hi there, LOVE the desk and how it turned out! I'm your newest follower! Love your blog! Hugs Kat =^.^=