A Gray Weathered Finish for Furniture

Using bleaches or dye, sealer, and toner to get the look of sun and rain weathering on furniture. April 19, 2006

I'd like to achieve the grey, oxidized look on a finished piece of furniture using some sort of treatment - not the sun and the rain. Does anyone know the method for doing this?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
There are chemical treatments you can use to make the wood gray (e.g., tannic acid and iron sulfate), but it changes color when you apply a finish. If you have a piece of weathered wood, wet it with water and see how the color changes. That's what a finish does. To get around the problem, I use two coloring steps. First, I'll dye the wood a grey color to get the shimmering effect and grain definition it has on the wood. Then I'll seal the dye (which changes its color) and then use a grey pigmented toner over the sealer. The pigmented toner brings back the grey color.

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From contributor A :
The samples were done with an acid stain made up of household vinegar, a couple of steel wood pads, and some old rusty nails. Allow the brew to cook and from time to time you can test the stain on your wood until you get the color you are looking for.
You can get many colors from this stain. I choose these 4 colors to make up the sample. Some finishers actually allow the stain to go black, and then reduce the color with clean vinegar.

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The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
If you are going with iron sulfate be patient. Several coats may be needed but the product is sustainable so there is no smell and it dries fast. Mixing the product over the recommended ratio can give it a greenish tint. Itís definitely the most natural look of all the methods we've tried. The vinegar method works great on lighter shades of hardwoods.