When I decided to make over our dining table, I wanted it to look textbook farmhouse. I wanted the wood to look weathered and worn but still have a classy smooth look to it. I knew this was going to take a lot of experimenting, but after a lot of blog hopping and research, I finally came up with a method I liked and the result was exactly what I was going for! I know there are a few steps to this DIY Weathered Wood Finish but in order to get that natural-weathered look, it’s just a must. This kind of result doesn’t just come in a can. If it did, I would have bought it!
Before I got started, I sanded this table like I’ve never sanded anything before. I wanted our table extremely smooth. I can’t express how grateful I am for an electric sander!
First of all (and I highly recommend this!), I tested this method out on smaller pieces of scrap wood left over from the table. I played around with different methods until I got something I liked. It’s important that you use the same type of wood you are going to refinish because the results will be different on different types of wood.
Step 1: Black Tea Stain
I saw this idea online and I loved the more raw and weathered look it gave than the canned stains. Plus it was cheap! Since this was a big table, I used about 5 bags of tea and let them steep for about 15 minutes. Then I squeezed the bags out and removed them before lightly rubbing down the table with only one coat. The magic here is that the color will darken as it sits. I took pictures after 1 minute, 5 minutes and 10 and the color darkened significantly. This is why you want to wait for it to completely dry before you decided if you need more.
This is what it looked like as I started…
This was my result after it dried for 30 minutes. (pretend like my garage wasn’t a disaster)
Step 2: Steel Wool & Vinegar Stain
Now this part might not be quite as obvious but it was a very important step. When tea stain is applied to pine it can result in a little too much orange for my taste. So I wanted some real grey weathered undertones. The steel wool stain is something you need to prepare ahead of time because it needs to sit for 24 hours. You just put about 4 steel wool pads (you need the #0000 grade) in a glass jar full of distilled white vinegar. I needed to make a lot so where some people can do this in a mason jar, I ended up setting mine in a covered sauce pan overnight. Nothing fancy to this. Just soak the pads completely covered in vinegar. Then I painted this all over the table with just one coat.
You can see below how it brought out a lot more grays and looks more weathered and old. This steel wool stain alone isn’t quite this dark and strong. That’s why it works so well after the tea stain and adds variety in there too.
Step 3: Sand it well, especially on the corners, edges and in between the cracks on top of the table. Give special attention to any areas you feel are too dark for you. I lightened mine up quite a bit.
Step 4: Dry Brushing
This was my favorite part! I almost got carried away with it and had to hold myself back from dry brushing everything in my house. All you need is a very small amount of white paint on a paper plate. Any will really do. You won’t be using very much paint here. You want to dab your brush very lightly in the paint and then on another plate you will dab ALL the excess off. You need to get your brush as dry as possible. And then randomly place your brush strokes on the table. It leaves such a light and dry brush stroke on the table that it leaves a distressed look. I paid special attention in the cracks between planks. It really gives distressed detail to make each plank stand out individually! I was in LOVE with this result!
Step 5: Light Stain
Now I had lightened the table up so much that I wanted to add some dark accents in there. I took my favorite Dark Walnut stain and just picked a few places to blend it in. This is one of those things you just have to eyeball until it looks the way you want. The next step with smooth it out better. But if you have areas that you overdid, just take your sander to them and lighten it back up. I had to do this a couple times when I got some areas darker than I wanted.
Step 6: Steel Wool Sanding
You will want to wear gloves for this if you’re not already because you don’t want steel wool bits all up in your skin. Take a steel wool pad and sand the entire surface with it. This will sand it, smooth it, blend the colors better and also leave a gray oxidized residue look over all. I’m going to be using these to sand a lot more often.
Step 7: Touch Up Sanding
This step is totally optional but I took my electric sander and gave some areas one final sanding. You have to be very careful about this because you’ll sand off all the beautiful colors and texture you’ve just put into the table. I basically did a little of this on some corners of the tale, a couple cracks in the middle and then to lighten any areas I thought were too dark.
Step 8: Finish
This step I struggled the most with. Obviously I needed a table that I could wipe up. And I wanted the wood protected from spills. I didn’t want this table to turn out shiny because it takes away the weathered farmhouse look. So after relentlessly searching the internet for options, I settled on a LIGHT coat of clear polyurethane. I worked very hard to make sure this was the lightest coat possible. I used a rag to wipe it on and I wiped it up shortly after. There are actually still some spots on the table that I wish weren’t so shiny but in the the end, I’m the only person that notices and I have to go searching for them. It helps give the table character.
I am so so thrilled with the way this turned out. It has so much character and is a favorite spot in our home. I love the work I put into this table because the result is so unique! Let me know on Instagram if you try this method out!