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 [email protected]!

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

 

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

  1. Hi There- I have a few questions- First I love what you did and I am trying to match a table (which looks similar to what you have done) I have a table being made (he said he used a grey minwax stain with a cream paint) – so I have 4 ladder back chairs- 2 are a darker wood and 2 have some red it in) how would you suggest I mimic what you made?). I am tossing so many ideas around in my head- first was skip the stain and just chalk paint it then grey wash it? I am so confused- Hopefully you can shed some light- Thank you!

    1. Thanks Amy! Since it sounds like 2 of the chairs are a different type of wood than the other 2, it may be difficult to get them to match exactly. But I would start by testing out the weathered gray finish on each of them in a small area first to see how it will look and if the finishes will match enough. Are the chairs a bare wood, or do they already have some kind of finish on them? If there is a finish on them, it would be best to sand that off and start with bare wood. However, if that’s all too much work, you could always just paint the chairs like you mentioned in a chalk paint finish that compliments the table finish. I painted our chairs white and I love how it looks with the weathered finish of the table top!

      1. Thank you for your comment- they are all not bare wood & sanding will def. take too much time. I started the chalk paint idea for the chairs- But I do have another project in mind that I will try with your technique. Thanks for your help 🙂

  2. I am trying to do something similar. I stained a desk a darker walnut color but certain areas didn’t take the stain (I think I may not have fully sanded the original varnish in some areas?? ). Either way it came out looking nicely distressed with the lighter wood showing through in certain areas – it almost looks like I sanded it down in these areas. However, I want the white washed gray color, so my question is… can I still paint over the entire surface with latex paint or will the paint not stick to the same places the varnish didn’t take? Should I use a primer? I notice you didn’t use a primer. Thanks!!

    1. In the areas where the stain didn’t take, it does sound like the original varnish wasn’t fully sanded off. But, if you sanded those areas even just a little then the white wash paint mixture should still adhere to the surface some. I’d test it out in a very small area first to be sure. If it has trouble sticking to the wood in those areas, you can always try adding more paint (and less water) for the white wash mixture. I would not use a primer since that would really cover up the wood grain and would make the last step of distressing the wood with sandpaper much more difficult.

  3. Thank you so much for this post!! I’m refinishing my office desk and it is turning out amazing! I decide to leave the legs just with the stain!

    1. Thanks for letting me know Denise! I’m so glad its been helpful 🙂 I’d love to see a photo of the finished desk!

  4. Thank you… I want to try this on the wood trim around the rooms of my house. It is all dark brown wood and everyone says make it white. Well the paint I’m gonna use on the walls is white, so I want to do it in this weathered look. Plus I’m giving my house a beach themed makeover. Do you think I need to do anything to the wood trim before the paint since it is already dark brown? Thanks again… love this look.

    1. Thanks Chrissy! As long as the wood trim doesn’t have a sealant or poly over the dark barn stain, it should be fine to just go ahead and do the white paint wash. If it does have some kind of sealant, you may need to lightly sand the sealant layer off and remove the saw dust first. Either way, I would test it out on a small area first of the trim to see how it looks first before trying it on all of it.

  5. Thank you for this tutorial! We are going to attempt this on an outdoor farmhouse table we built. It will be exposed to the elements. What do you suggest to seal it with after we whitewash and sand it?

    Also how long should the whitewash paint dry before sanding?

    We got the color you used in a flat outdoor paint. Will that work?

    1. You’re welcome! The outdoor paint should work well. For the sealer, I think an outdoor polyurethane or sealant would be best. I’ve heard good things about Thompson’s waterproof clear wood protector as well as Minwax indoor/outdoor Helmsman Spar Urethane, although I haven’t had a chance to test them out yet myself. I would definitely test out whichever sealant you decide to use on the finish in an inconspicuous area on the table or on some scrap wood to make sure it doesn’t alter or yellow the weathered wood finish too much.

      Also, you can sand the white wash as soon as it’s fully dry, which should be within and hour or two.

    1. Yes I think it would, but I would test it out on the back first to see exactly how it’s going to look on the fence wood.

  6. Hi Angela Marie,
    This was an amazing post. I am currently working on changing my mahogany dining room table to a weathered grey stain. I have sanded the table and preconditioned the wood then added the grey stain. I want the tabletop to be a light grey stained table top. I did one coat but it did not come out as light as I would like. I plan on doing another coat tomorrow. My question to you is should I mix a little white paint in with the grey stain for the second coat? I don’t want the grey to be as light as yours but I definitely want it to be a little lighter than it currently is.

    1. Thank you Jennell! I wouldn’t mix the stain and paint together since that may not adhere properly to the wood. I’d recommend testing out a few different methods on the underneath side of the table in a small area that you sand just like the top. That way you can see what combination works best for the look you want to achieve. You could try mixing some light grey paint and water first, then follow it up with the white paint and water mixture. Or you can just try the white paint mixture over the grey stain and see how that is going to look. All woods take stain and finishes differently so it’s best to just test it out first to see what you like best!

      1. Have you ever combined the minwax simply white with the dark walnut? I am wondering how that would look because I cant seem to get the shade I’m looking for. The dark walnut is too dark and the special walnut is not quite what I like either. Thanks!

        1. I actually haven’t tried the minwax simply white yet, but I am eager to test it out soon as it looks like a great new stain option! What kind of shade are you trying to achieve and on what type of wood? I’m not sure exactly how the two would look together so I think it’s definitely worth buying each in a small can and testing it out to see what you like! You could always try doing one coat of dark walnut followed by two coats of the simply white to lighten up/soften the look more.

  7. lovely work! we’d like to create a grey stained butcher block for our kitchen island. what type and color of wood would you start with? what sealer etc would you recommend? thank you!

    1. Thanks for your question Lori! Unfortunately, I don’t have any experience working with butcher block so I don’t have any good recommendations to share. I would try going for a lighter toned color butcher block though!

  8. I have a den in the 1960 or so era, the old brownish look paneling. How would you go about putting a gray wethered look on this.

    1. If the brown color is stain and you can still see the wood grain I would probably skip right to the white wash paint step and apply that over it. I’d test it out first in a small area to see how it looks.

  9. Hello, I love this technique and want to try this on my dining room table. It is an Ashley table in a dark finish. Would this technique work if I sanded off the clear coat then apply the white wash finish?

    1. Thanks! It should work. But to know for sure, I’d try testing it out first underneath the table (or another inconspicuous area) if the finish is the same.

  10. A friend told me of a very easy way to make wood look old. He gave me an old garden bench made of wrought iron and wood slats. The wood slats looked awful.
    The first step was to sand the slats to get rid of old paint etc. Then take some steel wool and put it in a cup and pour in vinegar to fill the cup. Let it sit overnight or preferably two nights. Take out the steel wool and brush the solution in the cup onto the wood. The solution goes quite far and is like brushing on water. After curing for a day or so you have great looking old wood. This method does not make the wood look like anything has been done to it other than having been naturally weathered. If the wood after a summer or two starts to look like it needs freshening just do the same procedure again. Touch ups are very easy. A very cheap, easy process with a great result.

      1. (Hi Angela, I have an old varnished pine bookcase I’d love to try this on, but don’t know what you mean when you say condition first, I’m in Ireland so we maybe call it something else here. Would appreciate your advice. Thank you .

        1. Hi Jackie, The condition is a wood pre-conditioner (here is a link to it https://amzn.to/2SMti4D) and it’s used on pine and other soft woods to help prevent streaking and blotching that can occur when staining wood. It’s not required but it helps provide a nicer finish!

  11. Hello! A little late to the show, but a quick question. I really like what you did with this: both the process and the final product! I would like to do a version of this but with a little weathered grey pigment added to the paint. Thoughts about how this might turn out?

    1. I’m not exactly sure how it will turn out, maybe a bit smokier looking? Sounds cool though! I would test it out first and see how it looks!

  12. Hi Angela, I’d love to try this on a coffee table I have with an oak top, but I don’t know what you mean by Pre-Stain wood conditioner, I’m in Ireland so maybe it’s called something else here. Any idea, thanks Jackie.

  13. I seem to have a problem with my wood turning blue after I stain and whitewash! I stained the wood with grey stain (weathered grey accelerator) then whitewashed it and now it’s blue! I’m trying to get a grey undertone. This is the second time this has happened to me – what am I doing wrong ?

    1. It may have to do with the weathered grey accelerator that you are using. I haven’t used that product before so I would try just using a regular stain like the Dark Walnut and see if that fixes the problem!

  14. Hi Angela,

    My boyfriend is not going to like that I found this page. lol
    My question is…. can this weathering process be done to kitchen cabinets? The color is currently maple with a glossy finish. If it is possibly, I’m thinking it would require a lot of sanding to get through the glossy finish, yes?

    1. Sure! It can be done on kitchen cabinets as long as they are wood. Yes I would recommend sanding them first to remove the current finish. You could always try testing it out first on the back side of one cabinet (as long as the finish is the same as the front) to make sure the finish is going to turn out the way you want since different wood species takes finishes differently. Just to be sure before doing it to all of the cabinets!

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