How to Make Lumber Turn Gray

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Things You'll Need

  • Steel wool

  • Small sealed jar

  • 1 cup of white vinegar

  • 1 orange pekoe tea bag

  • Kettle

  • Small paintbrush

Weathered wood gets its grayish color from oxidization.

Whether you're looking to match colors for a fence post replacement or want to add a weathered look to your woodworking project, the solution is oxidization. The tannins found in tea, mixed with the iron content of steel wool and the acid found in vinegar create instant wood oxidization upon application. This mixture adds years of age to your wood in mere minutes, without imitating the color of aged wood like gray paints or stains.


Step 1

Rip or cut the steel wool into a dozen small pieces.

Step 2

Place the steel wool and 1 cup of vinegar into the jar. Seal the jar and wait 24 hours. The steel wool will mostly dissolve.

Step 3

Boil water in the kettle. Add 1/2 cup of boiling water to the jar.

Step 4

Steep the orange pekoe tea bag in the jar for 10 minutes.

Step 5

Remove the tea bag and stir the mixture. Soak the paintbrush tip in the liquid mixture in the jar. Apply the mixture evenly over the entire surface of the wood using the paintbrush.


Step 6

Immediately place the wood outdoors, preferably in the sun, to dry. If drying indoors, ensure placement of the wood in a dry location.

Step 7

Repeat as necessary to reach the desired shade.


This technique permanently alters the color of the wood.



Nathan Joseph

Nathan Joseph began his writing career in 2005. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. As an advanced scuba diver, Joseph covers articles related to diving.