How to age wood with paint and stain

This is the process I used to create the aged wood look of my reclaimed wood moose head and extra large pallet and burlap frame.How to age wood with paint and stain

This is a quick and ridiculously easy tutorial on how to age wood using paint and stain. I used pallets for this project and raided the garage for paint and stain, so it actually cost me nothing to do this. To start sand your wood down just enough to remove large splinters. If your wood is brand new take both sides of a hammer to it as well as other garage tools to create dents and gouges. Since my wood was from pallets it was already pretty banged up. This technique is very easy and almost impossible to mess up. The key is to create depth and texture using many light coats of paint and stain. Wait until the stain or paint is dry to the touch before moving onto the next step. Honestly, I found that by time I finished one step the first pieces were already dry. Here’s what my wood looked like before I started to faux age it:

How to age wood with paint and stain

I’m going to use this wood in two upcoming projects I am really excited about and I wanted different shades of wood so I raided the garage and found these 3 stains:Mission Oak, Red Mahogany, and Jacobean. Ideally you don’t want the stain to be gloss or have polyurethane in it. Only one of mine did and it came out fine though.

How to age wood

Step 1: Using a chip brush add an even coat of stain to each piece of wood.  At this point it will still look like new wood just stained. I used the same brush for all 3 stains so I wouldn’t waste any brushes. Keep your stain and brush out for steps 2 and 4.

How to age wood

Next, find a flat finish white paint. I used ceiling paint which worked out perfect, but you could also use latex primer or craft paint.

How to age wood with paint

Step 2: Dry brush the white paint onto the wood. To dry brush dip the brush into the paint then try to remove most of the paint on the side of the can. Next, using quick light strokes brush over the top of the wood.  You’ll notice that the wood is starting to look aged now. Here’s what is should look like:

How to age wood with stain

Step 3: Dry brush a coat of stain onto each piece. You’ll notice that this starts to really bring out the texture of the wood. For this step I used the mission oak on the unstained wood to give it more depth.

How to age wood

Next, I created a grey wash by mixing equal parts grey craft paint with water. I used Americana Slate Grey that was left over from another project.

create a grey wash with grey paint and waterHow to age wood with paint

Step 4: Dry brush the grey wash onto the wood.

 how to age wood


Step 5: Dry brush the stain on one last time. When the stain is completely dry I gave it a light sanding with a sanding block.

How to age wood

That’s it! You’re done. Wasn’t that easy? You really can’t screw this up. If you find you are a little heavy handed on one step, just keep repeating the steps until you achieve the look you are going for. Here’s another look at them:

How to age wood

And one last close-up:

How to age wood

Make sure to check out the two projects I used this wood for:

Reclaimed wood moose head

Pallet and burlap extra large picture frame

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  1. Pingback: Pallet and Burlap picture frame | Simply Swider

  2. Pingback: Reclaimed wood moose head tutorial | Simply Swider

  3. Congratulations! This post is featured over at Diana Rambles today and has been pinned in the Featured at Diana Rambles board at Pinterest, Tweeted, and Recommended on G+. Please grab a featured button off my sidebar or via the link under the features. Thanks for sharing this awesome idea!

  4. Hi there, love your tutorial. I picked up an old barn door and it has a great finish but the paint is quickly coming off as it is chipped and peeling and blowing in the wind. Any product out there that I can spray on to seal it somehow?

    • Hey Joyce! I haven’t had to deal with that yet so I’m not personally familiar with any products. There are spray polyurethanes and sealers on the market that might work. I would just make sure to get one in satin or flat. You don’t want to lose your aged finish with a shiny sealer.

      • Paint the item with white glue. Like Elmers glue for example..
        You might want to dilute the glue with water to make applying the glue easier.

  5. I used Jacobin and Im not getting that very dark with slight blue on your STEP 1. Most pallets are pine or oak I believe. So Im using some new southern yellow pine with this. Looking quite yellow and brown after the stain…. Any thoughts?

    • Hey Austin. Our pallet was white oak, so it might be the yellow pine that’s causing the color change. I would try multiple coats to see if the color darkens and the yellowness disappears.

  6. As a woodworker this has come in very handy. It creates the look of 100 year old wood without the price for clients that aren’t wanting to spend as much as they would for furniture from century old salvaged wood. It paid off quickly when one requested a stocking hanger this past Christmas. A chisel to rough up the edges and a dremel with a sanding bit work great for making a live edge and really make a this finish stand out on pine.

  7. Ok, this tutorial was one of the best and easiest to follow. Thank you for pictures marked with the corresponding step number – this is wonderful. And it looks terrific. Pinning now!

  8. Quick question. When you stained the wood, did you wipe and remove the excess stain? Or just let the stain dry without any removal? Thanks! Love the look. Will come in handy for both a wedding and a church renovation project.

    • I actually just dry brushed it on so there was no need to wipe off excess. Also this helped capture the grain of the wood better and the colors underneath show through. Good luck with your projects!

  9. Hi, I realize this is an older post, but I just found it when searching for a method to use on my dark stained table. (first project) I love the look that you created. Did you apply Minwax oil based penetrating wood stain first, then dry brush white latex paint, then drybrushed more oil based stain, then brushed on a mix of water & grey acrylic paint, & then finally drybrush more oil based stain over everything?Just wanted to clarify because I didn’t think you could use all those different bases over one another.
    Thanks so much.

    • You summed it up perfectly. Typically I wouldn’t recommend mixing latex and oil based projects as latex doesn’t stick to oil well but for a project like this where you are going for a rustic look it actually enhances the texture.