Do you love farmhouse, rustic or a coastal look? You know that we do! Would you like to know how to create that weathered look for a piece of furniture? While there are stains you can purchase and use, often they look fake. Today we would like to share How to Weather Wood with a Vinegar and Steel Wool Stain.
There is something so satisfying about transforming a discarded piece of furniture into a real treasure. If you are new to refinishing furniture this may seem a little intimidating, but if you take it step by step and are willing to give it a little elbow grease you too can create a piece that you will treasure. Today we would like to share How to Weather Wood and get that Restoration Hardware style finish.
We both LOVE the Restoration Hardware style! I will never forget when the store opened up in Salt Lake City and I walked in the door and my eyes lit up … I was in LOVE with all of the finishes, the lighting, everything! Then I looked at the prices, yikes, well it didn’t fit into my budget.
That’s the beauty of refinishing a good solid piece of furniture, not only is it satisfying to say “Hey, I did this”, but you can save thousands of dollars!
Steph had been eyeing a bed at Restoration Hardware with that vintage coastal style and it was nearly $3000, but luckily we are DIY’ers and we knew we could figure out how to get a Restoration Hardware style finish. We have come up with a simple 3 step process to achieve their wood finish.
Stephanie bought this bed after graduation from high school, I guess she was anxious to spend all that $ she was making! 🤣
It is a solid pine bed with lots of rustic character which she loved at the time, however as her tastes changed, she married and began looking for something else.
Thank goodness she kept this bed, because it is a good solid piece with real wood, which is hard to come by these days.
Lets take a look at the before photos of the bed.
To see ALL the highlights from this master bedroom makeover on a budget click any link below.
Before the New Weather Wood Finish
The bed in fact was still in great condition, it was that Steph just no longer liked the finish. The finish was a natural pine, not only did it have a yellowish hue to it, but it really seemed dated.
Steph loves the relaxed coastal look, along with a bit of a vintage vibe. She began to wonder if we could transform this bed into the inspiration bed from Restoration Hardware. Well, take a look, and see if we succeeded in getting that Restoration Hardware style finish!
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Supplies we used
Step 1: Strip off the finish ...
We believed that the bed frame had a wax finish on it and knew that we would need to remove it in order to apply our Vinegar and Steel Wood Stain. It must be bare wood for the stain to work. That will require either stripping or sanding the wood.
The stripper we prefer to use is Jasco Paint and Epoxy Remover, not only did it strip off the wax quickly, but we have used this product on other projects to strip off varnish and paint as well.
This is a great product, we prefer to use it because of its gel like consistency which clings to the surface and makes it very helpful if your project is vertical, as well as it works quickly.
PRO TIP: When working with a chemical stripper always wear chemical gloves and goggles, it is very powerful and can burn your skin. Remember to always be safe when working with chemicals and tools.
Pour the stripper into a glass or metal container, because it will eat right through plastic. Brush on the stripper with a paint brush, let it sit for 15 minutes while it dissolves the finish.
If you are more of a visual learner, we created a video of the process.
Watch the magic happen . . .
Let the stripper sit on the wood for about 15 minutes, then the magic happens. The finish will dissolve and is ready to be removed.
Use a medium grit steel wool pad and then rub back and forth with the pad, pulling off the finish. This method works really well for surfaces that have moulding and carved details.
We used this method for the entire piece, however we noticed that in some of the corner areas there was still some finish that needed to be removed.
We dipped an old toothbrush into the stripper and worked it into the corners and then wiped the area with a paper towel.
Once the entire piece is stripped, wipe down all of the surfaces with a damp cloth, removing any remaining chemicals.
When refinishing a piece, it makes it a whole lot more enjoyable to do this with a buddy. Crank up some tunes and enjoy the process. We love working on these projects together, it is so rewarding and FUN!
Step 2: Staining the Furniture
We made our own natural stain which we made with vinegar and a steel wool pad. Fill a glass jar with vinegar and drop in a steel wool pad. Let it sit for a day or two until the steel wool pad almost completely dissolves. The longer the steel wool pad sits in the vinegar, the darker the stain will be.
Steel wool & vinegar is a very old staining technique, sometimes called “ebonizing.” It works with the tannins in hardwoods. This will make a chemical reaction with the wood that will give it a wonderful aged and worn look.
PRO TIP: Each species of wood will accept the stain differently. Be sure to test your stain in an inconspicuous spot to make sure you like it. Our wood was pine and it was just the look we were going for.
Using a brush, paint on the vinegar mixture onto the wood. It will look clear as you first apply it and then in a matter of minutes the magic happens. We loved this amazing weathered wood look!
In the first photo we are holding up a piece of the original pine next to the stained headboard. It made quite a transformation, absolutely amazing!
We did have a few areas where the stain did not take, we came to the conclusion that we must not have gotten all of the wax off, this however was an easy fix.
On the areas that did not take the stain we took some medium grit sandpaper and gently rubbed off any remaining finish. We then brushed on our vinegar and steel wool stain mixture.
Here it is all touched up after sanding. We did have one spot that you can see that would not stain. It may have been filled in with wood putty, but you will see in the end it all worked out.
Step 3: Waxing - Our Final Step
To achieve that great vintage looking, worn Restoration Hardware style finish, we applied a white wax, Behr white wax to be specific.
Using a waxing brush apply the wax in a circular motion, pushing the wax into any grooves or crevices in the wood.
We also wanted the wax to look a bit streaky, so after the wax was applied we gently drug a chip brush (stiff and short bristled brush) across the wax, giving us the worn streaked look we were going for.
Buff the Wax
Once the wax has dried it is time to buff. We like to let it sit overnight, just to make sure the wax is all dry, then buff.
Buffing can be done with a soft, clean cotton cloth (old t-shirt) or a buffer also works well. Every time we get out the buffer our little helper arrives.
Little Miss loves to be a part of all our projects, especially if there is a paint brush involved 😉. Usually we say, “no, you can’t help with this,” but with the buffing she can totally do it!
The Final Reveal
Here is the finished bed! In the first picture we are pointing out that one spot that wouldn’t take the stain, but after the waxing and buffing it looks great! We applied this method to the headboard, foot board and rails.
Drum roll please… take a look at the inspiration bed from Restoration Hardware on the left and our bed with the Restoration Hardware style finish on the right.
We think it looks fantastic and this project only cost around $35. Can you believe it? That is quite a savings from the nearly $3000 bed from Restoration Hardware!
Take a look at the before and after, it’s quite a transformation! We are thrilled with the way it turned out!
As you can see by following our 3 steps on How to Weather Wood with a Vinegar and Steel Wool Stain, not only is it doable, but you can see how rewarding it is.
Not only were we able to take a furniture piece that was in storage, in the basement and transform it into a gorgeous piece, but in the process saved thousands of dollars!
If you love a natural wood finish, checkout our pro tips for applying a water based stain.
Do you LOVE it? Are you going to give this technique a try? We would love to hear from you, please drop us a comment!
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