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. To learn more about how to prepare your wood surface for a weathered wood finish, as well as other weathered wood finish tutorials and how to protect your weathered wood surface, check out Weathered Wood Recipes!

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.

How to create a weathered wood gray finish


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!

If you’re interested in more easy weathered wood finish tutorials, learning how to properly prepare your surface for a weathered wood finish, or learning about top coats and how to protect your finish for the best results, check out Weathered Wood Recipes here! Weathered Wood Recipes includes easy and budget friendly tutorials on how to create weathered wood finishes like this:

Easy DIY Blanket Ladder

Easy DIY Blanket Ladder

And this!

Farm Table Makeover with DIY weathered wood gray finish

Click here to learn more about Weathered Wood Recipes!

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

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120 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.

          1. Do you need to stain? I just put up a plywood on my bedroom wall to create a shiplap look, but am having a hard time getting the whitewash color I want … I am trying to mix teal and grey … what is the purpose of the stain?

          2. The stain helps to create the weathered wood look and helps to enhance the grain of the wood. You can try testing it out on some scrap plywood first to see if you like how it looks!

          1. I stained pantry shelves dark walnut. It turned out way too dark. I was thinking of sanding off some of the paint, then using the white wash idea you posted. Afterwhich, should I stain it with weathered gray?

          2. I don’t think you need to stain with weathered gray if you are adding the white wash mixture. But you could always test it out in a small, non-conspicuous area first to see if you like the look of it to help decide!

      1. Is there any way I could do this to a cream color crib and changing table? There’s Norwood showing….how can I cake wood underneath? Lol I love the rustic gray for the new babies room!!

        1. Hi Hope! I’m not sure what Norwood is so I don’t know for sure without seeing the pieces. Sorry that’s not a very helpful response. Is the changing table wood? If not you could always paint the base a neutral color then attach a wood top with the weathered wood finish.

  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.

  16. With the stain you used, you said leave it on. Most stains require they be wiped off…did you just apply the stain and not wipe off? Lovely, and thanks for sharing?

    1. Thanks Janie! We just applied a small section of stain at a time and wiped the excess stain off at the same time until the whole desk top was covered.

  17. I will be using this technique on a bed that my husband and I are going to build this week. I will post pictures when it’s finished. I’m excited to try this

  18. This is so beautiful! I just got an tank pedestal table and cannot wait to refinish it! I want to try the gray weathered wood look. My question is this… Since it is for a kitchen table, I need the finish to be protected (I have two boys!) What do you suggest I use to put on top of the paint to protect it? Thank you!

    1. Thanks Amy! I’d try a water based polyurethane in a matte finish, such as Minwax Polycrylic. The water based poly is much less likely to yellow the finish color but will provide a good protection. I would test the poly out in a small, inconspicuous area first on the table over the finish to make sure you like how it looks!

  19. Wow, looks amazing and so easy? I have just sanded an old trunk and want to get that look and don’t really want to change depth of the colour of the wood so is the stain necessary?

    1. Thanks Cindy! You can skip the stain and just do the white wash part, it will definitely have a different color/look, but I think it will still turn out really pretty! I’d try testing out the white wash over a small, area of the trunk first to see if you like how it looks without the stain. You can always sand the test spot away if you don’t like how it looks.

        1. It should work with chalk paint, you can test it out in small area first to see how it looks with the chalk paint to be sure.

  20. Love this! I have an already painted wall, just regular paint on rough-like boards. Could I try to put the stain over the paint (its a light yellow off white color), and then proceed as you’ve shown? Think that would work? Not sure about stain over painted wood. Thanks!

    1. thanks Janie! I’ve never tried paint overs stain before so I’m not sure how it would work. But, the stain may have trouble penetrating the wood if there is a paint layer in between. You could always try testing it out on a scrap piece of painted wood first and see how it looks! Also, you could then do the top paint process the same, but it will most likely have a different look/outcome with the paint on the base layer.

  21. I LOVE the look of this and am going to attempt doing this to the trim in my home. What base of paint did you use (water, latex, oil)? Do you think trim would require a sealant like a matte Minwax Polycrylic? Thanks so much for the tutorial!!!

    1. Thank you! We used latex paint. I don’t think trim needs a sealant since its more decorative. But, you can definitely add a sealant like Minwax Polycrylic if you wanted to be able to wipe the trim down easily for cleaning purposes. I would test out the sealant first on a scrap piece over the weathered finish if possible to make sure you like how it looks with that sealant!

  22. Thank You for sharing this, I love how it turned out. I’m making some rustic wood pumpkins and am going to try this technique.

    1. I don’t think it would work very well on laminate since the paint mixture (or the stain) wouldn’t have any porous surface to soak into.

  23. Thank you for this post. I was searching on line to see how I was going to finish a pine door slab that I bought to use as a barn door between my laundry room and bathroom. Then, I saw your idea and it seemed simple. It turned out fabulous and will be a great accent piece when hung.

  24. What type of wood did you do this process on–red oak? White oak? Seems like white oak would work better, but I’mhaving a hard time finding retrofit white oak stair teads and risers in Houston after all the flooding.

    1. We used common pine boards from Lowe’s. I haven’t tried it out on red oak before, but its worked well for others on different kinds of wood. Maybe try testing it on a small area of some red oak and see if it works well?

  25. Hi Angela! This is beautiful. I have never tried anything like this before, but am thinking about giving this a shot! Obviously you have a lot more knowledge of these types of DIY projects. I am curious about knotty pine paneling as an option? We just bought an old cottage with what looks like the knotty pine paneling. I was trying to figure out how we could save some of the paneling for the house we build on the lot after tearing the cottage down, and maybe make an accent wall in the new home. I really love the gray/brown look. Do you think it might work? Thanks!

    1. Thank you Melanie! I think an accent wall using the knotty pine paneling from the old cottage sounds like a great idea that would be so pretty! I’d recommend sanding the paneling really well first and also testing out the finish on some scrap paneling first to make sure you like how it looks! I’d love to see photos of the end result!!

  26. Hi Angela,
    We are redoing 5 chairs that were a natural wood. We had them stained dark walnut and really don’t like the way they look! We would like a blueish/gray distressed look. Do we still use white paint? Can we just paint over it and then distress like your demonstration? Thanks!

    1. Hi Denise,
      If you want more of distressed paint look, then it would probably be easiest to just paint over the dark walnut with paint or chalk paint in the color you want and then lightly sand till you achieve the amount of distressing you want. You could test it out on a small area on them first to see if you like how it looks doing that way!

  27. This looks great! I have been at a loss as to what we can do with our engineered hard wood floors in the kitchen. Replacing them just isn’t an option right now but I love this look and they are already stained and distressed with virtually no poly left from when I refinished them the first time. Sanding and restraining won’t work because we are down to the final layers of wood. I’m going to use your whitewash technique and cover with lots of poly this time. This is so inspiring. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Heather! I hope it turns out great! Whitewashing definitely helps with covering imperfections! I’d recommend testing the poly out in a small area first though over the whitewash to make sure it doesn’t change the color too much.

    1. It was wall paint, but it doesn’t really matter, the more important thing is that the sheen is not too shiny, so flat, eggshell, matte, or satin.

  28. Hi Angela!
    We have Redwood siding throughout our hose. I really want a weathered grey wood look, to break up the monotony of so much wood. Because I am starting with redwood, would I still stain and then paint? Or skip the stain?
    Thank you for your post!!
    Much Aloha,

    1. Hi Melissa! I’d test it out both ways to see which way you like best! So, you could test using the stain and the paint mixture in a small, more hidden area. Then, in another small area test just doing the paint mixture with no stain. Since Redwood takes stains differently than pine (which is what I used), this will give you the best idea of which version you like better!

  29. Can this be done on a wood table that is currently painted black(purchased that way)? Do i need to sand it down to natural wood or use pain remover?

    1. It most likely can, depending on the type of wood that the table is made out of. I’d try sanding a small area underneath or in a inconspicuous area first and testing the finish out to see if it will work well. For removing all the paint, you can do either method, all sanding or paint remover and then a little sanding after that, whichever you prefer! I like to try just sanding first and only use paint remover if I really need too since it’s so messy.

  30. Omg love your work!!You are amazing!!Love the stains you created and everything!!Are there separate pics of pieces done in each color? Wasn’t sure…love the blanket ladder stain…which stain is that one? Ps I am neighbors with your mom…3 doors down..hope all is well😘😉😉
    Melissa K.

    1. Thank you Melissa!!! There’s a photo of the full desk top that was done in the weathered gray finish described in this post here: And then the tutorial for the blanket ladder finish is one of the recipe finish tutorials I included in my e-book Weathered Wood Recipes, but I have a full photo of the blanket ladder (as well as how I built it) in this post:
      Sorry if that’s confusing! I should compile photos of all the pieces in the different colors in one place!!
      I’m doing well, hope all is well with you and the fam and hope you guys were able to enjoy the snow yesterday :)! I was actually at my mom’s baking some Christmas cookies!

  31. Beautiful weathered gray finish, I have an old table that I would love to refinish using this technique, but I am trying to find a sealer that doesn’t eventually cause that ugly yellowing since the table will be used daily. Thanks for the simple step-by-step instructions. Wish me luck!!

    1. Good luck Susanne! It’s tough with the older tables, they tend to yellow more with sealers, hopefully you can test some different ones out and find one that does the trick with your particular table!

  32. Hi there. I’m interested in doing this technique on built-in bookcases that are already stained and varnished. Do I need to sand off the varnish before whitewashing?

    1. You probably will need to sand the varnish off, but before doing that you can try the white wash in a small test area first over the varnish to see how it looks. It may not absorb right with the varnish, but it’s worth trying! You can then try in another test spot sanding the varnish off and applying the white wash to see how it works and which way you like best.

  33. I’m remodeling my office which has old 70’s wood paneling. It has already been sanded and washed, wondering if this would work for that?

  34. We tried this technique today on an older pine table. Stripped and sanded it down, followed your instructions to a T and yet RED came through! Not the gray look we were looking for. We have no idea what happened. Do you have any suggestions on what to do to get the right look? Thanks!

    1. Sometimes with older furniture, especially from the 1930s and 1940s, when a white or light colored paint is applied it causes the tannins of the wood to bleed through causing a red or yellow discoloration. The only way I know how to prevent bleed through is by spraying the piece with a clear shellac first, however, this may not work well with trying to achieve this finish. Did the red come through after you added the stain or the white paint mixture? If it occurred just with the paint, you could try the following to see if it works: In a small test spot, sand down to the bare wood, add the dark walnut stain, then spray with the clear shellac, allow to dry, then try adding the white paint mixture, allow to dry, then lightly sand to see how it looks. I’m not sure if it will work with the shellac being used, but it’s worth testing it out in small spot if you really want the look!

  35. I’m assuming the Minwax walnut stain you used is water based? I’ve only seen it as oil based…. Water based paint won’t stick to oil stain, will it?

    1. The stain I used is oil-based. You can use water based paint over oil stain, just make sure the stain has dried for at least 8-12 hours before applying the paint.

      1. Thank you so much for your prompt response. So dried up oil stain won’t alter the adhesion and durability of water based paint applied on top?

        1. Sure! It shouldn’t, but you can always test it out in a small test spot on your specific piece to see how it looks first!

  36. Angela – amazing project and the outcome is jaw-dropping for me…just the colour I want to achieve on my pine crates. Do you think this would work on yellow-ish pine or does this need to on white pine? I love your ladder towel rail result. Was this on yellow pine or a different wood?

    Also, I am in the UK and havent found Minwax available so easily. As it is a first try on a DIY project, I am going to use some spare water-based stain I have at hand. I hope it works – your thoughts?

    Once again – brilliant post and outcome!

    1. Thank you so much Rekha for your kind comment! This would work on yellow pine too. The blanket ladder wood was an inexpensive, stud grade wood from the home improvement store, they call it whitewood stud, but it’s very similar to a knotty pine. The water-based stain should work if it’s similar in color. I’d recommend testing the finish out in a small area on your project first to make sure you like how it looks with using the different stain as the base. Hope that helps!

  37. I was wondering what you would suggest using to finish…if you use an oil based stain and then a water based paint, would you seal with oil or water based poly for a table!? Also could I use white chalk paint to achieve the same look?? Thanks, Britany

    1. You can use either an oil based or water based poly over the finish, just make sure to wait 12-24 hours before applying the poly after the finish is complete. An oil based finish might change the color some since white paint is being used, so I’d probably go with a water based poly. But, you can always test both out in a small, inconspicuous area first to see how it looks over the finish. Also I’ve never tried this finish with chalk paint but it should work! Again I’d recommend testing it out in a small area or on a scrap piece of wood first just to be sure.

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