5 Grey Wood Stain Options

Are you looking for a grey wood stain to add a beautiful, gray finish to your wood project? Well, I personally love a weathered, gray finish on my DIY wood projects, but that involves a few steps to achieve and can’t be achieved with one stain color only (that I know of at this time).

There are gray wood stain colors available on the market which can be used if you just want a simple gray stain. I’ve rounded up and tested out 5 grey wood stains that are both affordable and easy to find at your local home improvement store or online. Note, they are all oil-based stains since oil-based stain is very common, affordable, and easy to find and purchase.

5 grey wood stain options on pine wood

Also, I know whenever I’m looking at stain options, I always want to see what the stain actually looks like on wood. I hope these grey wood stain samples help you figure out which colors would work best for your own project, so you don’t have to buy and test out 5 different stain samples yourself!

I tested out all of these grey stains on pine wood. Do keep in mind though that stain can look different on different species and types of wood, as well as in different lighting scenarios. I recommend always testing your stain out in a small area on your project first to see how it looks on your particular piece of wood before applying it to the whole project!

One more thing, if you are also interested in the more classic, brown stain colors, check out 10 favorite wood stain colors. For a whitewash stain, see these white wood stain options. And if you need tips on staining for a beautiful finish, see my how to stain wood tutorial and the best way to apply stain.

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

Grey Wood Stain Options:

1. Classic Grey Stain by Minwax

classic grey wood stain sample

Classic Grey Stain by Minwax was one of my favorite gray stains that I tested. I used two coats to really enhance the gray color that the stain provided. I liked that it added a gray finish to the wood in a more subtle way and still allowed the wood grain to show through and look natural.


2. Weathered Oak by Minwax

weathered oak wood stain sample

Weathered Oak by Minwax seemed to be the most brown of all the stains I tested and hints of gray tones were picked up in different areas of the wood grain. This stain also took two heavy coats for the color to be deep enough for me to really get a sense of the color, but it’s still a bit on the light side.



3. Weathered Gray by Rust-Oleum Varathane

weathered gray wood stain sample

The truest gray, and least brown gray in my opinion, was this Weathered Gray by Rust-Oleum Varathane. However, it almost had a slight blue tint to it and it went on very thick. But, this stain only requires one coat and dries in an hour!


4. Sunbleached by Rust-Oleum Varathane

sunbleached wood stain sample

Sunbleached by Rust-Oleum Varathane doesn’t seem like it would be a grey colored stain, but it actually goes on as a very creamy, light grey wood stain color. This stain is very thick to apply and you really have to wipe the stain into the wood to allow the grain to still show through.


5. Carbon Gray by Rust-Oluem Varathane

carbon grey wood stain sample

Lastly, I tested out Carbon Gray by Rust-Oluem Varathane which reminded me more of a dark walnut stain with smoky grey undertones. This was my first time using this stain color and I really liked it!

Each of these 5 grey stains are great options to consider when you want a grey wood finish! But, if you are interested in a more weathered gray finish, with some more character to it, see my post on how to easily create this weathered wood gray finish.

How to create a weathered wood gray finish

Also, for even more weathered wood finish options, check out Weathered Wood Recipes, which includes several weathered wood finish tutorials (including 5 different weathered gray finishes), as well as how to prepare and protect your wood surface. Here are a few of the gray finishes included:

Farm Table Makeover with DIY weathered wood gray finish

weathered light grey wood stain on a wood blanket ladder

So, which grey stain was your favorite?! Are there any other gray stains that you’ve tried and loved? I’d love to hear! P.S. I realize I wrote both grey and gray and didn’t notice till I reread this post. I’m not sure which is the best spelling version to use haha!

Finally, if you want to see more stain colors, don’t forget to check out 10 favorite wood stain colors and white wood stain options! Once you have picked out your stain color, make sure to sand the wood well before staining the wood, it makes a big difference!

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



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29 thoughts on “5 Grey Wood Stain Options

  1. I also love a grey wood stain, but totally agree that there is no way to really get a true weathered grey look with just one stain. (I find the Weathered Grey is a little misleading — it just looks so blue to me!) For my dining room table, I used your tutorial to get the weathered look I was going for, but applied it a little differently in terms of the order of applying the white wash and the stain. It really does create the perfect weathered grey finish. 🙂

    1. Thanks Mallory! I’m so glad the weathered wood finish was helpful for your table finish!! And yeah I totally agree about the weathered grey being more blue! Maybe they will eventually come out with the perfect grey stain 🙂

    2. Hi! We used weathered grey on out farmhouse table and it’s too blue for me. The table was already treated w poly..is there a way to “fix” this grey so it isnt so blue even though it already has poly or would we have to sand and restain?

      1. What type of wood do you have? That can make a difference how the tone turns out. Also, adding any kind of finish over poly is going to be tough because poly seals the wood and makes it hard to absorb in the wood and distress it as well. So, sanding down to the raw wood usually works the best. But, if you don’t want to do that and just try to lessen the blue, you could try another layer of the white wash paint mixture and see if that helps! Maybe try in a more hidden area first to make sure you like it!

    3. try putting a full piece of steel wool in a gallon of white vinegar and let it sit overnight. The vinegar absorbs the metal component in the steel wool . I have “stained” several new rough sawn cedar fences using this process and it turns the golden cedar into a darker grey color just as the sun will do to an unsealed cedar fence after 4 or 5 years.


    1. What kind of paint did you use? If you use pink paint as the base layer, then maybe try a charcoal chalk paint, let it dry, then lightly distress with some sandpaper so the pink shows through better.

      1. I have tried a few different shades of stain all in the varathane brand. My problem is, almost immediately after I apply it, it’s close to dry. It becomes tack and I’m never able to wipe away any excess because of this. I’m left with a wood piece that looks painted more so than stained with hardly any wood grain to see. Helo!

        1. The Varathane stain does dry fast since it’s a 1 hour fast dry stain. You could maybe try sanding it some to show more of the wood grain if you like the color or try the Minwax brand, it’s a more classic stain that dries slow.

  3. Hi! Thanks for the color testing! I actually really like the Weathered Gray and that touch of blue was exactly what I was looking for!


  4. Hi Angela,

    I used weathered gray on a couple of nightstands and love it. However, I am looking for the right finishing coat that doesn’t change the color. A waterbased polyurethane on a test strip made the color so much deeper than I wanted it. Any suggestions?


    1. If you didn’t like how the water based poly changed the color, you could try a clear wax instead. Annie Sloan is my favorite brand for wax.

  5. I’ve got some shelves which were finished with a walnut coloured varnish. I initially thought they would be fine with my new worktops but now they’ve been delivered they are much closer to the carbon grey which I love. Any advice on how to bring them closer to this? Sanding and an application of something lighter grey??

    1. I would test a few stain options out in a small area after sanding them to see what would work best. You could try a lighter grey stain or the carbon grey. All woods take stain differently so it’s hard to know exactly how it will look. I know that’s not super helpful but it’s worth trying to see what works best!

  6. Would you recommend this style of staining for manufactured kitchen cupboards? I’m not sure if it would hold up to everyday cleaning and occasional spills. Bu it is what I would like my kitchen cabinets to look like. I also have exposed end cabinets that are covered in what appears to be a plastic laminate. I’m not sure how I would stain over that.

    1. Are the cabinets made out of wood or a plywood? I’d only recommend it for that kind of material. Unfortunately the stain won’t work on laminate or plastic. If they are real wood you could use a polyurethane over the stain to protect them and make them more easy to wipe/clean.

  7. I have a weathered grey dining table and am seeing some staining from use (especially oil). The table is in a lake cottage so we do not fuss with placemats. How do you clean this kind of finish properly and is there a way to keep the color rejuvenated when use causes some wear? I have been using only very mild diluted Dawn soapy water to clean it after meals and Endust for regular cleaning – but want to know what works best to preserve the color. Thanks!

    1. Is there some kind of top coat or sealant on the table? For dining tables that I finish, I always use multiple coats of a matte polyurethane to help protect the finish, which works really well. If the table doesn’t have a top coat (or a durable top coat) and the stain has penetrated down to the wood finish, unfortunately I don’t know of any way to fix it without sanding the stain off and trying to touch it up with a similar finish. Sorry if that’s not much help! Otherwise for daily cleaning purposes, I do what you do already and use a mild soap and water and wipe up with a sponge. Also, I try to wipe up liquids after each meal to prevent them from sitting to long on the surface.

      1. I bought the table from an interior designer (client return) and there were no details about the piece. It looks bare but I may try using a matte polyurethane to seal it. The finish is not too worn but I can see how over time that will happen with use. Thanks for the tips and recommendation. Knowing what to use on it will give it a longer life with the pretty aged gray finish.

  8. Hi Angela, I just purchased your ebook on weathered wood and love how you put this together. I do have a few questions though. I noticed that you say to use oil base stains but you use latex paint to go over them in some of the color recipes. From what I read online, I’m seeing you can’t do this unless you use a stain blocking primer. I’m curious how long these colors will last with oil and water. I’m going to do a bathroom accent wall and I’m nervous that with the oil stain and water base paint that the integrity of the two may crack or peel. I was curious if you have had any issues. I’m wondering if it would be better to use the oil base stain and then apply a white wash of oil base paint that is thinned with mineral spirits. Please let me know what you think.

    1. Thanks Stephen! I haven’t had any issues using water based latex paint over oil based stains and from what I’ve tested with my recipes it works great for creating the weathered finish. Primer is usually only necessary over stain if you are trying to cover up the oil based stain and not have it show through for a solid paint coverage. As far as long term durability, all of my weathered wood finishes have held up great and I haven’t had any issues in the past few years and no cracking/peeling. I haven’t done any testing with oil based paints or mineral spirits so I’m not sure how that would turn out. If you do want to go that route, I definitely recommend testing it out on some scrap wood first!

  9. Really great effect with this technique, nice depth and the ability to tweak it as wished. Will keep it on file for my next project. I am putting some decorative shelves in my laundry, one over the W/D and some more over and beside the window. My existing built in pantry shelves are white as is cabinetry, woodwork and walls (SW Snowbound used in the entire house). I wanted these decorative shelves to contrast and have been looking for an easy to do weathered look. I agree with others commenting, that it is hard to get anything that looks “really weathered” with a stain only. I have always used Minwax stains, they are the best and the Special Walnut is one of my favorites. We used on hardwood floors in 2 different homes and also a number of furniture pieces my husband made. Another nice one is Early American for a lighter look. Jacobean is great for antiquing painted signs. Thanks for sharing this “weathered wood” finish.

    1. Thanks for letting me know Jill! I’m so glad to hear this tutorial was helpful! I love the ideas of the weathered wood shelves against the white!

  10. I wonder if its possible to achieve a Gray finish without removing a previous brown stain? Have you ever tried anything like that?

  11. I used the Minwax transparent vintage blue stain on a scrap piece which was way more blue than I was trying for. I want a hint of blue but with gray as the dominating color. I want to see the grain. It’s pine tongue and groove on a vaulted ceiling. This was the second attempt. The first attempt was the waterbase Marine Blue and that was extremely neon blue. Any suggestions?

    1. I’ve tried that vintage blue stain before and it is really blue! I’d say the best gray stain with a hint of blue is the weathered gray by Rustoleum.

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