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How to Get a DIY Weathered Wood Finish

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In my DIY Farmhouse Table and Bench post, I talked all about building my table from scratch.  This post is all about how I got my DIY Weathered Wood Finish!  If you haven’t read the table post, you’ll definitely want to check that out first.

farmhouse table and diy weathered wood finish

You guys.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this table.  It’s something I’m most proud of.  But I also LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE the finish!! It was super easy and fool-proof.

List of Supplies You’ll Need For Your DIY Weathered Wood Finish

Supplies (affiliate links, read my disclosure here)

I painted the entire base of both the bench and the table in Chalky Finish paint in Everlasting (I did this last actually.)  To get the distressed weathered wood look on top, I tried a new method that I think I will only ever do again.  I’ve tried so many different things without success or they just took so many coats of things that it was hard to repeat.  But this one worked great and was simple!

Whitewashed Base Layer

First white wash the wood.  I watered down the rest of my Chalky Finish paint about 50%.  It was still relatively thick, not super watery.  Then I painted it on and wiped off the excess.  I let that dry for a little while.

easy diy weathered wood finish

Apply Dark Stain On Top

The next step seems a little weird but I promise, it works.  You get a can of dark stain–I used Dark Walnut by Minwax.  That is scary right?  How can such dark stain make the light gray look?  But think about it–white and black mixed make gray.  So it makes sense. Then wipe on some stain–it doesn’t take a lot.  Then you immediately wipe it off.  I used it rather sparingly, I found that the stain left on my wiping rag worked great for coloring the edges and sides of the table top.  What you are left with is a grayish wood that has white underneath in the spots the stain didn’t touch–like nooks and crannys.  Perfect!  You could heavily distress the wood first with chains and hammers and whatnot if you wanted, but I wanted my dining table to be as smooth as possible to make cleaning it easier.

diy weathered wood finish easy

Dry Brush with White

Finally, take a dry brush and dip it in the whitewash and brush most of it off before lightly brushing the table top in random places.  It puts in the white a little more here and there.  It only takes the smallest trace of paint to make a difference.  And you can wipe it off with a wet rag if you get too much on initially.  This last step really takes it to the true ‘weathered wood’ level.

DIY weathered wood finish

Sealing Your Table

How I sealed it is also my new favorite.  I used DecoArt’s Soft Touch Varnish.  I LOVE this finish.  You get that soft, smooth, silky finish without it being shiny or changing the color at all.  No yellowing at all, not even a trace of color.  I put on several extremely thick coats in the hopes that it would also help fill in the cracks between the planks of wood.

UPDATE ON FINISH:  I’m going to be honest here…a year later, I regret the finish I chose.  It has not held up well at all to kids. When they would get something on it like watercolor paint and it wouldn’t come off, simple scrubbing would dissolve the finish and then I’d end up removing the finish down to the bare wood.  I am going to have to take my table outside sometime and sand it down and refinish it completely.  When I refinish it I am going to use a polycrylic so I don’t have to do it again.  I also don’t love how the table has felt sticky all the time, even when it’s completely clean.

What About the Cracks?

An idea to fill in the planks: Before the table is painted, stained or finished in anyway (basically right after it’s sanded) you fill in the cracks with an epoxy.  Just use any basic epoxy (no recommendations because I haven’t actually done this, it’s just a theory I think would work) from a craft store.  Hopefully you can get all the cracks filled up without much residue left on top.  Let it dry for awhile (at least 24 hours) and then sand the top again and get any epoxy that is on top of the table off.   One of my friends tried this and didn’t sand all the filler off first.  Then she had to go back and re-sand and then those areas wouldn’t accept stain the same because they were too sanded.  Sometimes sanding too much clogs the pores of the wood and it still won’t accept stain.  Sigh!

Or you can use a table saw to take a little bit off each side of the wood to remove the rounded edges completely and avoid having cracks.

ana white farmhouse table

Every time I do a project like this table and bench, I feel like I achieve a new building milestone.  Like I do something that makes me nervous, find out it’s not that bad, and gain confidence to try something else. And if I can do it, you can too!

Remember to PIN this post so you can do this awesome finishing technique later on!

how to get the perfect weathered wood finish

DIY farmhouse table for less than $100

How to build a farmhouse table for less than $100!




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75 Comments

  1. Demi moore says:

    I love the design for this table however when I look at the plans the measurements don’t seem to match with notches with a 2 by 4 going in a 1.5 x 3.5 . I’m new to this so if you could explain why that would help.

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      The actual measurements of a 2×4 aren’t 2″x4″. They are 1.5″x3.5″.

    2. Hey there this table is gorgeous! I am getting one hand built and I need to test stains and tell them what to use. Ive found other colors that are ok but this one is the best and it keeps coming back to me. I followed all of your steps exactly and your wood looks to have more brown hues and mine was very very gray like a slate. I tried it different ways many different times and its all too grayish and im down to the wire and do not want to settle on any other color!! Any other help and direction you can offer would be so appreciative. Please help- I am at my witts end! Thank you !

  2. When you went back and updated that you regretted the finish, did you just mean that you needed the polycrylic INSTEAD of DecoArt’s Soft Touch Varnish? Do you think it was the DecoArt’s Soft Touch Varnish that made it feel sticky all the time? My husband and I are going to try this finish but want to make sure we do it right!

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      Yes, I wouldn’t use the Soft Touch Varnish again. And yes, that’s what made it feel sticky.

      1. When I read that about DecoArt’s Soft Touch Varnish I was worried for you. I say this sadly from experience.

        1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

          Haha! Yes lesson learned.

  3. Solomon Shaffer says:

    Looks great. I do something similar, but keep about 12″ of heavy chain to beat the crap out of the wood to get an old farm wood look. I also randomly drill holes with a small bit. Stain stays in the divots and makes it look like wormholes. You might also want to try Brewax for your stain. It will fill in any gaps or holes with wax as you are spreading it.

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      Sounds like a fun way to get your aggression out! 🙂

  4. What paint did you use for the legs?

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      It’s DecoArt Chalky Finish paint in Everlasting.

      1. Brittany Attig says:

        Is that 50 percent watered down as well on the base or just the top??

        1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

          The only thing I watered down was the white paint.

          1. Did you water it down on the legs too then? Or just the top of the table? Curious if you used full strength paint on the legs…

          2. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

            I used full strength on the legs. It was only the top that I watered down.

  5. I love the color!! My next project is building a farmhouse table and your color is always the one I keep coming back too! I was going to get weathered grey Miniwax until I realized you used dark walnut and white washed! What a great idea since I already have that color. I just ripped my wood last night and hope to get it done soon. Thanks for a great post!!

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      Thanks! Good luck!

  6. Wood filler may be better for filling the crack as
    Epoxy will not absorb the stain or white wash.

  7. Hello!! Beautiful table and home. Can I ask you what are the type of floors that the table is sitting on? They are beautiful and very much what I’m looking for.
    Thanks!!!

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      They are laminate floors. It’s Mannington Historic Oak in Ash. Thanks!

  8. Hello! I’m obsessed with your weathered wood look! I followed your tuturial to create the look on a wood bench and it turned out fabulous! I love this look! However, I’m in the process of redoing a old console table and I’m wanting to use your tutorial again but my only problem is the top of my console table is laminate. Should I prime it before using the watered down chalk paint, or will the chalk paint be fine? And will a gel stain work over primer then chalk paint? I’m wanting to seal it with a wax, but I’m just not sure how to get this look with the laminate top.. PLEASE Help! (I’ve already sanded the entire table just not sure what to do next)

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      So glad you like it! I’m actually not sure how this method would work with laminate…the gel stain might be the better option to try. I would just try it on a spot that won’t be seen as much and see if you can make it work. Good luck!

  9. Look very nice! How long didyou wait after the white wash?

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      Just until it was dry.

  10. Hello,
    Thank you so much for sharing with us your plan and update it afterwords. I want to do the same table, it’s looking really amazing. Could you please tell me how long you have to let dry the wood between every step and how many coat of polycrylic you are planning to put on the top.
    A fan from France 🙂

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      The wood needs to be dry to the touch and with each coat of poly you need to wait about 4 hours before applying a new one.

  11. Hi! How much of the chalk paint did you end up using for the table? Love this! Thanks!

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      Probably about 4 ounces or less. It was watered down.

      1. Andrew Brewer says:

        I have 8oz of the DecoArt white paint, and I’m about to apply the whitewash.
        My question is: when you say “water it down 50%”, do I add 8oz of water to 8oz of paint? Or do I add 4oz of water to 8oz of paint?

  12. I love your table! Thank you so much for sharing your plans, what you used for paint, and most of all your frustration with the first finish. I love how honest you were with this. Even though it is a relatively cheap table to make it looks sensational and expensive! I am wanting to make this for my outside patio. Do you think that the paint, stain and polyurethane will stand up to the elements well? Or do I need to use products that say for outside use? Thanks in advance for your reply.

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      I would probably finish it with something that is made specifically for the outdoors. Just make sure to leave some gaps between the table slats for drainage because the standing water on it can warp your wood.

  13. I love that clock! Where did you get it?

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      It’s from World Market!

  14. did you prime the legs of the table before applying the deco chalky paint?
    Also, did you water down the paint for the legs or did you use the original consistency
    Excited to give this a try!

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      I didn’t prime the legs and used the paint at original consistency…however the wood did bleed through so I would definitely recommend priming it with something strong, maybe a shellac based primer.

  15. I applied this technique to my new farmhouse table and it worked beautifully!! Thank you so much for sharing!

  16. Hi, I like your weathered gray finish, been looking for instructions for this finish for a long time, a quick question, did you use wood conditioner before using dark walnut stain?
    I have had to use wood conditioner before staining to prevent “blotching” on pine.

    Thank you.

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      Hi there…I don’t think I used a wood conditioner for this treatment because the first step is to whitewash the table. The paint base essentially is the wood conditioner. It doesn’t turn out blotchy.

      1. Thank you very much, will definitely try this.

  17. Are the end boards supported enough? Are the pocket screws strong enough. I just see people leaning on the ends amd getting weak over time. Thanks

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      They weren’t strong enough on their own so I later flipped the table over and secured the breadboards with some brackets.

  18. Hi! We are planning to build this table next weekend but I’m wondering what type of wood you used?

    Thanks!

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      I just used regular pine wood from Home Depot!

  19. love this look. We only have the white color available in the home decor chalk paint and I see that you used a sheep color. Would it be okay to use the white color instead? Think it would have that big of an impact on the final color? Thanks!

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      Yes, I just used white. I watered it down so it was a whitewash. You should be fine!

  20. Did you use a brush to put on stain first and then wiped?

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      Yes or you can apply the stain with a rag.

  21. Love this look! Wondering: the stain is oil based, so is it really ok to use water based Minwax Polycrylic over it?
    Thanks!

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      I think it should be okay but you can always test a small corner first!

  22. Random question: what kind of paint did you use for your chairs? Do you have a post about them?. P.s. LOVE your table!

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      I used Annie Sloan chalk paint in French Linen. Thanks!

  23. Krisilyn McCauley says:

    What type of finish did you use on the base ?

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      I did the same finish as I did on the top.

  24. Did you put the clear coat over the base white paint?

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      No I only put a clear top finishing coat after everything else.

  25. Shelly Hannacker says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I just refinished my benches and dining table tonight using your method. I’m not quite done but it looks fabulous so far! May I ask where you got your table runner? Thanks again for the great info!

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      It’s from Home Goods, thanks!

      1. Love this table going to try this with mine as well, my questions are did you pre-condition the wood before you started and I have a chalk paint in linen white do you think that would look fine? Thanks!

        1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

          I’m not sure pre conditioner is necessary when doing this method because you are putting down a layer of paint first. Is linen white cream? It will be a more yellow look if that is the case.

  26. I’ve tried doing this and I have a bunch of darker marks on it where I’ve overlapped with rubbing the stain… Im not sure if that means I need another coat of the stain or if I should have conditioned the wood first. Do you have any idea what I might have done wrong? can send pics!

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      Usually I think that means you might have used too much stain and not properly wiped it off. You might be able to even it out by using a paint thinner (test a small spot first!) but if all else fails, you can put another coat of white wash on top. If you can’t get rid of it you might want to strip it completely and start over. I always try to condition first, especially with pine, as it makes a HUGE difference in the end result. Sorry about that!

  27. I tried this for my dining room table and the stain was super splotchy. I have tried adding another coat of stain to the lighter areas but it is not working.

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      Splotchiness will happen if you don’t use pre-conditioner on the wood. I would do a thicker coat of the white-wash. I hope that works!

  28. Do you think I could use waverly chalk paint instead of the kind you used? Or is this deco art something special?

    1. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says:

      No, I’m sure that would be fine.

  29. Nicole DeBord says:

    I loved this finish as I was doing it. I’m noticing now that a quarter of the table is much darker than the rest. I’m not sure if it’s just not as dry in that area or if I put more stain there. I actually like the darker part. Can I add more stain to the rest of the table once it’s completely dry? I tried to add some stain on the edge and when I tried to wipe it off it took all of it off. I’m afraid to try and it do the same to the rest of the table. Please help!

  30. Ryanne G. says:

    What color are the smaller chairs painted? My husband and I have a similar table and would love to do this!

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