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.

Here are the steps we used to create a weathered wood, gray, rustic finish:

Supplies Needed:

Note, this post contains some affiliate links. For more information see my disclosures here.


1. Stain your wood

Before staining, make sure you sand your wood really well and remove all the sawdust. Then, apply the pre-stain wood conditioner and then one coat of the stain. For more tips on how to stain wood, click here for a tutorial. 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 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

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

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32 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!

  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.

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