How to Create a Weathered Wood Gray Finish

How to create a weathered wood gray finish

Last week on the blog, I shared a Rustic Tree Branch Desk DIY, that Brandon built and finished. The photos I took didn’t quite show off the rustic, distressed finish like I wanted, so I am sharing some close up photos today of the finish as well as how we created a weathered wood gray finish.

We tested out a few different combinations to get a more gray washed looked. Ultimately, we decided on using a combination of stain and white washed paint (paint mixed with water) to achieve a more gray tone.

Note, this post contains some affiliate links for convenience.

How to create a weathered wood, gray, rustic finish:

Supplies Needed:

1. Stain your wood

Before staining, make sure your wood is properly prepared for finishing. For tips on how to prepare the surface of your wood for a weathered wood finish, click the button below for a free e-course on surface prep 101:

Then, apply the pre-stain wood conditioner and then one coat of the Dark Walnut stain. Allow your stain to fully dry.

How to create a weathered wood gray finish


2. Apply a white wash mixture to the wood

To create a white wash paint mixture, we mixed about 1 part water to 1 part white paint. We ended up making the mixture a bit thicker with paint and less watery to achieve our desired finish. Next, apply the white wash paint mixture to the wood in long strokes with a paint brush. Allow the paint mixture to set for 3-5 seconds, then rub over the white wash paint strokes with a staining rag or lint free rag to smear the paint mixture into the wood. Allow it to fully dry.


3. Distress wood finish with sandpaper

Finally, very lightly distress the wood finish with sandpaper until you achieve your desired look!

And that’s it! Pretty simple! You can also add a top coat of poly or wax if you’d like, we chose not too since we liked the look at this point. Here is a close up of the wood grain with this rustic, gray, weathered wood finish. I just love how the grain lightly shows through!

How to create a weathered wood gray finish

How to create a weathered wood gray finish

I’d love to see photos of your project using this weathered wood finish! Feel free to share with me on Instagram @angelamariemade, Facebook, or e-mail pictures to!

What do you think of our weathered wood, gray finish? I think it definitely gives off a rustic vibe!

Again, if you’d like to see my favorite tips for preparing wood for a weathered wood finish or for staining wood, which really helps to enhance the final finish, click the button below!

Be sure to follow along on Instagram,Β  Facebook and Pinterest for my latest projects, fun updates, and sneak peeks!


















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48 thoughts on “How to Create a Weathered Wood Gray Finish

  1. I’m shocked that this hasn’t been inundated with comments yet! What a breathtaking job you’ve done. It’s THE best and seemingly easiest technique I’ve seen. Thx so much for sharing. I’ll be doing this exact thing as soon as we get past the holidays. Merry Christmas! ; )

    1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment!!! I hope your project turns out great and that this tutorial helps!!! Have a wonderful New Year!

        1. Thanks Jane! Just 3-5 seconds is plenty! If you wait 3-5 minutes the paint mixture will be really difficult to wipe off any excess.

  2. Out of all the techniques I read, by far this is the easiest! I had golden oak frames with prints that I love but was over the golden finish. Sanded as much as the finish I could get off, applied dark walnut by minwax and put the paint on this morning, Love!!! Will distress tomorrow, Thank You for sharing this technique!! Awesome!!! I used Bakery box(cool blue base) my Behr marque.

    1. Thank you Kimmy! I’m so happy that this tutorial was easy and helpful for you for refinishing your frames!!!

  3. Thank you so much! I have wanted to refinish my kitchen table that is very light almost golden color. I started with one of the chairs using a weathered grey but got a blue tone so I stop and have been trying other options. The color you achieved is awesome and will look great in my black and white kitchen. Thank you again.

  4. Absolutely love this! Plan on doing this on my bathroom vanity in my new house. Did you use satin or eggshell finish on the paint?

    1. Thank you Cindy! I think it was actually a flat paint finish since it was one of those sample paint cans from Benjamin Moore.

  5. Thank you so much for your tutorial! We are doing a DIY desktop over some IKEA bases & a matching barn door for the closet in our office. Your tutorial is so well done & I love your finished look. I am wondering if you can talk more about how you applied & rubbed in the white? I’m guessing you dont have to ensure you cover the whole surface in white evenly, right? And when rubbing in, to get the streaky look you don’t fully rub it in, correct? Thanks!

    1. You’re welcome Heather! When applying the paint mixture, you don’t want to cover the entire surface evenly, you just want to get enough on there that you can spread around the surface. And then once you have applied the paint mixture and wait a few seconds, you rub it in enough to soak into the surface of the wood and the excess paint mixture will be absorbed with the rag. It doesn’t have to be perfect, once you sand it will all blend nicely in the end! Hope that helps, good luck with your DIY desktop and barn door!

  6. We are going to try this on a plywood plank floor experiment for a craft room ! I love the look! I will top with a matte poly for durability. Thanks for sharing this technique!

  7. I’m getting ready to plank an entire wall and am going to use this technique. I’ll probably use dark gray stain and light gray paint to match my color scheme, but this looks just awesome! Great job

    1. Thanks Karen! I love the idea of using a dark gray stain and light gray paint together for this technique, it sounds like it is going to look awesome for a planked wall! I’d love to see a photo of the final result!

      1. I’d love to know how the grey paint turns out too! I want to use this technique but would like a grey wash. Not sure if I should still do dark wood stain. Thanks!

        1. I haven’t tried it yet with a grey paint, but I’d be curious how it would turn out with a grey paint and a dark stain vs a a grey paint and light stain! I may need to try this combo soon!

  8. Hi there thank you for helpful pins. I was just wandered if you could help me.We are building the house and we got beautiful wooden stairs. I would love them to look like this-washed off grey. What would you recommend. Is this technic suitable for the stairs ?thank a lot Iva

    1. Hi Iva! I think you could definitely do it on your stairs. You might want to add a protective sealant over it such as a matte polyurethane if the steps will have heavy use. I’d also suggest testing the technique out on just one step first to see if you like it and how it turns out. If you don’t like it, you could always just sand it off. Hope that helps!

  9. We followed your instructions but used oil based paint and exterior stains for an outside garden sink. Love it. We used paint thinner (25%) to cut the dove white.

    1. That sounds beautiful for a garden sink! That’s good to know it worked well with oil based paint too, thanks for sharing!

  10. This is just beautiful!! I’m currently looking for an old coffee table to upcycle and would love to do this to top of it! I really want to find one that I can add wood planks to the top to give it this look!! Thanks so much for sharing!!

    1. Thank you! That’s a great idea to add the wood planks on top of an old coffee table! Sounds like it is going to be beautiful!

  11. I just bought a used farmhouse style dining table with lots of dark stain already on. Should I skip that step and maybe sand a little of the stain off before applying the paint/water mixture? Just love how yours turned out!!

    1. Thanks Rhonda! You should be able to skip the dark stain part first. To be sure, I’d test it out first by applying the paint/water mixture to a small section on the bottom or underneath part of the table first on top of the existing dark stain, then lightly distressing. That way you can get a good idea of what it will look like using the existing stain and you can make sure you like it before doing the whole table!

      1. Thanks, Angela! Forgot to mention that we are going to use the table in our outdoor screened in patio. Should we use exterior paint and is there something we should use at the end to seal it?

        1. I wouldn’t use exterior paint unless it’s going to be exposed directly to outdoor elements. A polyurethane would definitely be helpful for sealing and protecting the table. There are polys specifically for outdoor use too if you think the table will be exposed to rain/sun coming into the patio. But, some polys can cause a slight yellow coloring, so again I’d test it out in a small area first to be safe.

    1. The wood conditioner creates a more even stain finish on the wood by helping to prevent blotching and streaking in the finish. You can skip it, but I almost always use it with soft woods like pine and oil based stains (both of which I used in this tutorial) to help create a nicer wood finish.

  12. Hi. Thank you so much for the tutorial. I have a little problem as I live in Mexico and I am not very sure which would be the equivalent of that stain color. I would truly appreciate if you could help me on that. Thank you again.

    1. Hi Fabian, I’m not sure what brand of stain you have available near you, but I would recommend any darker color stain or any darker stain that is called walnut should be similar to the Dark Walnut color I used. Also, you could always buy a few small cans of stain and test them out on some scrap wood to see which finish you like best!

  13. I looked at this tonite–going to do our deck outside–we have a dark grey house and the stains that are for grey decks are just not working. I did a few samples and used a slate color first, then went over it with a light grey stain and wiped it off about 5 seconds later and it looks great. thanks!!!

    1. That’s awesome Patty, I’d love to see photos of your deck when it’s all finished! It sounds like it is going to be beautiful!

    1. Hi Carol, does the buffet have any kind of sealant over the stain? If so, you may need to sand it and re-stain since I don’t think it will work right over a sealed finish. But, first if the buffet has the stain on the backside, underneath or another hidden area, I’d definitely recommend testing out the process in a small area first to see how it would look with the current stain. And you can also test out another small area as well with sanding and re-staining it to see how that looks too!

  14. Beautiful job! Did you use your wood for a table? I am looking to find a less expensive option than buying the gray aged looking flooring that my husband and I like. Do you think this technique would work on flooring? If so, do you have a recommendation for a sealant for it?

    1. Thanks Jessie! We used the wood for a desk top. I think some other readers have used this technique on their floors. I haven’t done any floor treatments so unfortunately I don’t have a good recommendation for a floor sealant. But I would recommend trying out the technique on some floor sample pieces with some different sealants first to make sure the sealants don’t yellow the finish or change the look of it too much.

  15. This is beautiful! I’m currently looking for options to stain ceiling beams. Our contractor had mentioned using the rough side of the wood to add to the weathered finish. I know you mentioned sanding very well before beginning. Do you think it would still work with the rough side with a light sanding or should we plan to sand thoroughly?

    1. Thanks Melanie! I usually prefer sanding the wood thoroughly since sanding helps with stain absorption into the wood and enhancing the wood grain look. But, you could definitely skip the sanding (or just do some light sanding if the wood is really rough) and use the rough side of the wood instead for a unique look! Especially, if the beams are reclaimed wood or have a cool patina to them on the rough side. I’d recommend testing out the finish on a small area of the rough side without sanding to see how it looks first and if you like it best that way.

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