How to Distress New Wood to Look Old

Hey guys! I actually had this post scheduled for last week, but something went horribly wrong and the post disappeared into cyberspace. Because I was on vacation with my wonderful husband, I didn’t have computer access to rewrite it, until now.

Anyhow, here is the post that so many of you requested:

How To Stain NEW Wood To Look OLD!

I just LOVE the way naturally aged wood looks… be it barn wood, drift wood, or pallet wood. However I haven’t had the best track record with regular staining… My first time staining something I thought you were supposed to brush it on thick, and leave it on to dry like paint…and I was wondering why the stain dried so sticky! Bahah… yes, laugh at me. Always read the directions on the can people.

So this is a slightly new technique that I came up with that both highlights the natural beauty of wood and is totally dummy/Hannah proof.

For this method, you will need:

-Stain (I used Dark Walnut in Miniwax for this- don’t worry, it won’t totally soak in and stain that dark)

-White Vinegar (a gallon of this stuff costs like $2 at Walmart, and you will want at least that much if you are using it on a large piece of furniture)


-A rag (I used a prefold)

-Something to stain… like this toddler bed we made for June.

First, you will need to DRENCH your wood with the White Vinegar. This prevents the stain from soaking in all the way and is a vital step to create the “old look” in our wood. Since you should stain in sections, only wet down the area you will be focusing on first , and move to the next step below.

Next, dab some stain onto your rag. Start with a little, as you can always go darker.

Now you can rub like crazy, going along with the grain in your wood. If you get “blobs” or stain marks that are too dark for your taste, don’t worry, you can either:

1. Rub it in (which is what I did, illustrated by the below photo) or

2. Sand it down to make it lighter after the stain has dried.

This whole process takes LOTS of rubbing. If your wood starts drying too soon, just splash more vinegar on it before adding additional stain.

Here’s headboard and legs all finished. This method of staining dries so quickly since it is really more like “dry brushing” your stain on.

As shown with these legs, staining different connecting pieces of wood different tones, (some darker and some lighter) gives it really great character. Don’t be afraid to go a little dark on your edges. It’s a natural “barn look.”

Here is a photo of my desk (tutorial found HERE) while I was staining it. I stained each plank a different shade, which resulted in a wonderful “naturally worn” look for my work space. To achieve this sort of effect, you can tape off the grooves of each plank using painter’s tape, and stain them separately. I also lightly sanded the edges of the lighter boards to add contrast to the dark ones.

So what do you all think? Was that an easy tip or what? I can’t wait to see the lovely furniture you all create using this technique!

That’s it for now!


thank you for stopping by!

  1. BeckyE

    February 18th, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    I found your blog on pinterest, and this is 2 years old, but I can't wait to try it! Thanks 🙂

  2. Kre8tor69

    June 15th, 2017 at 5:47 am

    I have been using much more complicated version of this. It also cost me much more and usually ended up too dark. I can not wait to try this!

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