How to Make Wood Look Like Barn Wood

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Barn wood is a super popular decorating option because of the texture and rustic character it gives to a person's home, but not everyone has access to it. In some lumber stores, you can buy salvaged barn wood, but if you don't have a local lumber store, you can make wood look old like barn wood. It's super easy, and you'll pay way less than purchasing authentic barn wood.


Barn Wood Stain Colors

If you want your wood to have authentic barnwood stain colors, you should try tea staining. Tea staining is the chemical reaction that takes place between the bitter tannin from steeped tea and a mixture of iron acetate from steel wood and vinegar. This causes the wood to turn a darker color.


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Tannin is distributed in tea leaves and other plant material and used in tanning leather, dyeing fabric, making ink and in medical applications. To make tannin, all you have to do is steep black tea and leave it to cool until it reaches room temperature. In another container, submerge steel wool in vinegar for about ten hours.

When the steel wool combines with the vinegar, it will cause the steel to oxidize (rust), and this will make iron acetate. When the iron acetate is formed, brush the steeped tea onto the wood and let it soak into the wood. Then, brush the iron acetate solution onto the wood. It will slowly begin to darken and look more like weathered barn wood stain.


Iron Acetate Warning and Tips

When making iron acetate, be careful that you do not keep it in a sealed container or closed up rooms because iron acetate produces hydrogen gas. If you don't have white vinegar, you can use any type of vinegar. If you don't have steel wool, you can use any steel bits such as staples and nails.


Weathered Wood Tips

When you look at barn wood, it has a classic weathered look to it. In addition to making divots and staining your barn wood, you can also ​distress​ the wood. If your wood is already painted, use sandpaper to remove some of the paint from the surface. Sand the wood roughly, and try not to spend a lot of time in one area. If you have cabinet scrapers, this can also give your wood a faded look.


Straight edged flat scrapers are used to scrape and smooth the surface of wood, but in this case, you're going to use it to scrape the paint to give it a fatigued look. You can wait for the wood to naturally weather, but this is a quicker method.

White Wash Pickling

When you think of the look of barn wood, you may think of darker wood. But you can lighten your wood, as well. All you have to do is apply a whitewash pickling solution. Similar to a stain, this will lighten your wood and turn it into a subtle white color, allowing the grain of the wood to show.


You should apply the stain in multiple coats or let it sit on the wood for a deep white look. If you want a faint effect, all you have to do is apply the whitewash, then wipe it off immediately. This will make your wood look more aged than if you left it on for a long time and it turns completely white.

Building Up Layers

Many people don't realize that the reason naturally aged wood got that way is that there are layers of aging and weathering. The wood has probably been painted a couple of times and damaged over the years. Also, the faded appearance comes from the wood baking in the sun.


You can combine a couple of these methods to get that perfect aged look. The more layers of distressing that your wood goes through, the more it will look like authentic barn wood.




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