Old houses have old wood and old wood looks different than new wood. It’s darker and has more growth rings to it because it’s old-growth lumber. Learn more about old-growth wood here. Old wood is rich with tannins that darken the wood and the longer wood is exposed to the air the darker it becomes in many cases.
While there isn’t much you can do to mimic the growth rings you can learn how to age wood with vinegar to give it that older color you want and help it blend in with the older pieces around it.
This technique is great for fence repairs, shingle repairs, siding, or just fun salvage projects where you want a different look then staining. And you can achieve different levels of color by how long you allow the solution to soak.
How To Age Wood With Vinegar
This isn’t like faux finishing or distressing wood though those are both fun ways to get different effects. When you age wood with vinegar it’s much easier and gets you one main effect and that is darker wood.
Like in the picture new wood repairs always stand out like a sore thumb before they have time to age naturally to match their older counterparts. But when you age wood with vinegar you basically speed that process along and help your repairs blend in in minutes instead of months.
What You’ll Need
- Sealable container
- White vinegar
- Steel wool (0000 preferably)
- Chip brush
Step #1 Make Your Solution
Grab a sealable container and toss a couple pieces of steel wool in there. I prefer 0000 steel wool because it works faster. You can use any kind of steel wool but the rougher the wool the longer it takes to work its magic.
Pour enough white vinegar into the container that it will submerge the steel wool. Put the top on and shake it up good then let it sit for 24 hrs. You can get different levels of aging if you let is sit longer or shorter periods, but for most of my purposes 24 hrs is perfect.
Step #2 Brush it On
The next day shake up the mixture well then grab a chip brush and brush it on very heavily saturating the surface. Wiping it on doesn’t get you enough solution on the wood so the brush is definitely the way to go.
Step #3 Wait and Watch
Now for the fun part! Watch the solution dry and age the wood. The wood will darken in just minutes so once you reach the color you want you can wipe it off to stop the aging process or just let it run its course and dry on its own.
This is a super low maintenance finish since you don’t have to worry about it rubbing off or wearing out. It has actually aged the wood naturally instead of acting like a stain or coating that has to be renewed every so often.
Be sure to check out the video below to see exactly how you can do it yourself. You also don’t want to miss the time lapse shot at the end as the wood ages before your eyes!
Founder & Senior Editor
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.