How to Distress Wood

Distressed wood can look fantastic in the home. Old barn wood as it is sometimes called, is usually salvaged from old buildings and has a natural aged weathered texture which looks characterful and interesting. However a genuinely aged piece of wood can be very expensive because this type of wood is fashionable right now. So if you want to know how to distress wood yourself, follow these instructions to create a cost effective and easy alternative to the genuine article. 

1/ buy the right wood. Always choose cheap wood cuts because these have more interesting knots and imperfections than perfect timber. How to distress wood is far easier when you use straight wood with tons of imperfections.

2/ Beat the wood with metal objects: it seems wrong but hitting the piece with a metal chain, a hammer or bashing it with a bag of nails will add character and wear to the wood. 

3/ Use a wire brush to mimic the effects of weathering:  Use any type of wire brush. The easiest way is to fit a wire brush into your drill chuck but you can also do this by hand. Move the brush along the grain of the wood and it will remove some of the soft wood and leave behind the denser wood grain. 

4/ Stain the wood: This will really make all the imperfections stand out. Pay attention to any holes in the wood and add more wood stain in these indented areas. The idea is to represent the natural aging process of wood so nothing needs to be that perfect.

5/ Stain the wood with tea vinegar and wire wool: First make a pot of black tea and leave it to stand for around 10 hours so that the tannin is fully released. In a separate container leave some wire wool in vinegar for the same time period. Once your solutions are ready, use a paintbrush to brush on the tea. Then brush on the vinegar solution and watch the wood darken instantly. 

6/ you can also sand the wood with an orbital sander. Try to do this in as haphazard way as possible and remove some of the top layer of the treated wood. How to distress wood requires you to reproduce years of neglect and so treating the wood in as many ways as possible will add authenticity to the finished piece.

7/Use a scraper.  If your wood is already painted, using a scraper will give an instant distressed effect

8/ white wash pickling creates a faded bleached effect. You can buy white wash pickling solution from any DIY store. Just cover your piece of wood in the solution and it will lighten the wood and let the grain show through. The great thing about this method is that it is very subtle. If you add the solution and then instantly wash it off it creates an aging bleached effect that looks very effective.9/ Use all of these methods in separate layers. How to distress wood naturally requires that any piece of wood must be left outdoors to weather and age over time. To recreate this process at home, the best way is to carry out all the above mentioned techniques in layers. That way nobody will ever be able to guess that your vintage distressed wood has been hand made at home.