In this post: Love the look of old wood but don’t have any old barn board kicking around? We’ll tell you how to make any wood look old in 3 simple steps – even new wood!


We adore reclaimed wood. At least how it looks. Not so much the price. You see, we don’t live near an abundant source of old barn wood. And what is found near us is definitely not cheap. So we’re going to show you how to make wood look old in 3 simple steps!

how to make wood look old

We used this method at our Bungalow on the shelves we installed above our desk for our home office space makeover.
 
how to make new wood look old

Paired with the black iron brackets, don’t the shelves look a little antique or vintage?

We also employed this same process on our open kitchen shelving and our Restoration Hardware look shelves.

kitchen open shelves

kitchen pantry open shelves

Wanna know how we do it?

It’s really easy, I promise!

How To Make Wood Look Old

To make new wood look old, sand all of the edges until smooth and slightly rounded in spots. Then bang up the wood to mimic wear and age using an assortment of things (hammer, nails, keys, etc.). Using a foam brush generously apply a dark walnut stain, making sure to let it accumulate in the dents and grooves you’ve just created. Let it sit for a minute or two and then wipe off the excess with a clean lint free cloth. Allow to dry thoroughly.

Supplies:

Instructions:

 

Step 1: Sand all the roughness out of the new wood. Round the edges a little bit to make them look worn and loved.

Step 2. Use whatever you like to add dings and dents. Hammer, keys, chain. Be sure to smash up the edges too.

Step 3: Use a super dark stain (with grey undertones, not yellow/orange) like Minwax Dark Walnut. The secret here is to apply the stain with a brush, let it sit for several minutes, then gently wipe off the excess with an old (lint-free) rag.

By using a brush, the stain really sinks into the dents & dings, making them nice and dark.

That’s it! Not complicated, not too messy, pretty crazy easy!!!

Do you have any projects you’d like to tackle using new wood – while making it look old? Do you use this same method? If not, how do YOU make new wood look old?

MAKE NEW WOOD LOOK OLD

shannon sign off

home made lovely book on table with get it now text button

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36 Comments

  1. Love that desk top. I’ve done some distressing on shelves and it turned out really good. I find adding layers of different shades of stain makes it look authentic too.

  2. Ooo that industrial desk is soo pretty!! I have also done some wood distressing and used multiple stains as well. Really seems to bring out the deep tones of the wood. Great step by step post! Thanks for sharing:)

    1. Thanks Amy! I love the dark walnut so much that I’ve only used it Special Walnut and Puritan Pine. 🙂

    2. I didn’t use multiple stain colors together – although I suppose you could. I just meant those are the only stain colors I’ve used before on various projects.

    1. Like I mentioned we typically just use the pine or spruce from Home Depot. Sometimes we use the more expensive project panels, depending on the project.

    1. We typically use the cheapie pine or spruce from Home Depot or Lowe’s. But you can use the laminated project panels if you want a smoother finish – it won’t look quite as ‘authentic’ though.

    1. Unfortunately the desk was made by Dean at his work. You can get the parts for shelves from a place like Metal Supermarket.

    1. The shelves that look like RH shelves were made by us and the metal can be sourced at Metal Supermarket. The wall shelves use brackets that we designed. We are in the process of manufacturing them for sale.

  3. Hi i am wanting to stain my tasmanian oak floorboards a grey with tinges of black through them. have you any ideas. i did see somewhere that you can use a mix of strong black tea and amonia. I have to be careful what i use as the top coating is a resin two pack mix. Regards Shann from Tasmania Australia. 🙂

    1. I’ve never used black tea and ammonia. You could try a dark stain brushed on and then wiped off to achieve the black (it will sink into the grain and any imperfections) and then stain grey on top of that? It would really be trial and error to get the look you want.

    1. We designed and manufactured them. They will be available for sale asap. Just working on them.

  4. I’ve never used black tea and ammonia. You could try a dark stain brushed on and then wiped off to achieve the black (it will sink into the grain and any imperfections) and then stain grey on top of that? It would really be trial and error to get the look you want.

  5. many have asked before me, but you don’t seem to be answering them, I’m hoping you’ll answer me! where did you get the metal brackets on your open shelves?

    1. We designed and manufactured them. They will be available for sale asap. Just working on them.

    2. Do you have an eta? Idea of what size? I’m looking fir something exactly like this for my floating reclaimed wood shelves. The wood is 10″ deep and about 2″ thick… do you know what you plan on selling them for?

    3. Unfortunately we don’t have those details to share yet. You could try Ikea for similar brackets, but theirs won’t be 2″ thick for sure. We’ll keep you posted.

  6. I have a kitchen table that i love the style of but over the years, the top looks awful because of various spills along the way. I would love to try to distress it but I am not sure how to do this? It has a coating on it, where ever its not distressed already. Do I have to sand the table first?

    1. I would suggest sanding yes. I know lots of popular paint brands these days say you don’t need to – and you may not NEED to. But you’ll get a better finished result if you do. That being said, sometimes I’m totally lazy and don’t!