How To Make Wood Look Old And Gray

May 10, 2022

Making the new wood board looked old and gray in color tone.

Many furniture and homeowners prefer a natural grey and old looks for some of their outdoor and indoor furniture. Such preference is not something new, for the old and shabby-chic shade on furniture pieces has been popular for a long time. Besides, this weathered and vintage look of furniture elicits a natural appearance, devoid of sophistication and artifice.

Because of this penchant for the grey and old look of the furniture, many furniture owners look for ways to make their wooden furniture look gray and old. They would like to mimic that weathered look that makes their furniture appear like antiquated. In this post, you’ll learn the simple steps to make wood look grey, antiquated, and old.

Vinegar-based Wood Aging Solution

One popular way to turn your furniture into something looking old and gray is by using a vinegar-based solution. Using the vinegar-based solution, you can create that vintage and weathered look for your wood. When using a vinegar-based solution, you also need to use steel wool. 

It will be best to prepare the solution by letting a steel wool piece or non-galvanized nails sit in the vinegar overnight. Afterward, you can dilute the solution with one part of water. The steel wool or nails should have rusted to get that silvery gray to black patina. 

Try the solution on scrap wood similar to the wood you will shade. In this way, you can see if the solution will render that weathered look to the wood when the solution dries. You can reformulate your solution to get the desired weathered and old look for your wooden furniture. 

It will help if you do not begin using your concoction on the actual furniture until you have visually tested it on the scrap wood. You can make the solution weaker or stronger depending on the desired look you would like to achieve.

Gray Washing the Wood

If you want to render that old gray look on your wood, don’t worry because it is easy. You need some hardware supplies and working space. You can also follow the following steps to get that old grayish look for your wood:

  1. Choose a well-ventilated work area. Use a drop cloth or a tarp to protect the floor surface. 
  2. Prepare the wood by sanding it. Do away with any imperfection or paint on the wood and use coarse sandpaper to sand the wood. 
  3. Apply the wood stain using a foam brush. Apply the wood stain along the grain direction. Cover the wood surface entirely and flip over the wood to get the other side covered. 
  4. Clean or wipe off any excess stain. Let the stain dry for about 5 to 10 minutes. Afterward, get a lint-free cloth and wipe off the excess stain. 
  5. Then, apply your gray stain solution or concoction. Use a water-based gray-tone stain and mix 1 part with 4 parts of water. 
  6. Afterward, you can spread your mixture over the wood surface using a foam brush. Move along the grain. 
  7. Once the stain dries, you can flip over the wood and stain the other side. 
  8. Then, allow the wood to dry before touching or handling it entirely. 

This technique, of course, gets referred to as the gray-wash technique. You can use a blue-toned gray to render a more relaxed feel to your wood. Nevertheless, using a yellow-toned gray, you can render the wood with a warm grayish tone.

Providing Your Wood With that Gray Finish

Another method to provide your wood with that old and weathered gray tone is by distressing the wood and applying wax to seal it. Below are the simple steps on how to do it:

  1. First, you need to prepare the wood using a conditioner. Pre-stain the wood with the conditioner and let it dry. 
  2. Afterward, you can stain the wood by applying a single coat of dark stain to let it dry entirely. 
  3. Afterward, you can whitewash the wood. To do this, you can mix a part of white, gray paint with the same amount of water. Then, lay this mixture over the stained wood surface. Let it set in for 5 seconds. 
  4. Use a lint-free cloth over the wood surface. Utilize a staining cloth and rub it gently over the wood. Let it dry entirely.
  5. Afterward, distress the wood surface by using sandpaper. Lightly distress your wood by rubbing the sandpaper across the wood surface to get that weathered look. 
  6. Once sanded, you can apply wax to seal the wood surface.


Wood, of course, would naturally undergo the weathering process due to biological, chemical, light-induced, and mechanical factors. These factors can render your wood with that greyish old look over time. 

Yet, if you’re desirous of achieving such an old and gray look for your wood, you don’t need to wait for these factors to alter your wood’s appearance. You can deliberately speed up the process by simply following the abovementioned techniques.

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