How to Weather Painted Wood

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A painted wood cabinet, table or similar surface challenges its owner to keep its smooth, uniform surface clean and defect-free. Every scrape and dent calls for sanding, filling and repainting, and every application of heat or moisture is cause for alarm. Since you can't stop time or regular use from weathering painted wood surfaces, beat these forces to the punch by faux-aging, or weathering, the painted wood. Once you've completed the treatment, any marring mishaps only add to the surface's charming, folksy patina.

Things You'll Need

  • Damp rag
  • Mild household detergent
  • Sandpaper, medium grit
  • Tack cloth
  • Acrylic paint, any color
  • 1-inch flat paintbrushes
  • Crackle varnish
  • Steel wool, fine
  • Remove any cushions, fabric coverings or hardware from the painted wood object. Clean the painted wood surface with a household detergent and a damp rag.

  • Sand the painted wood to prep the surface. Don't remove all the paint; just rough up the paint so it will readily accept a new application. After you finish sanding, wipe the surface to remove any dust.

  • Go over the entire object with a 1-inch flat paint brush and acrylic paint. Don't worry about making your paint lines smooth or covering up all the old paint; a striated, imperfect paint job makes for a more convincingly weathered wood surface. After the first coat dries, apply a second coat.

  • Apply crackle varnish for an advanced aged and weathered look. Use another flat-edge paintbrush to paint the varnish over the painted wood object. Brush on the crackle varnish in the direction you want the cracks to appear -- long, horizontal brushstrokes create similar cracks upon drying.

  • Rub fine steel wool over the painted wood's surface. Focus your efforts in the center of wood planks, along edges and on high-use areas, such as around knobs or handles. Expose not only the paint you just covered with the acrylic color, but the wood beneath, as well.

  • Wrap cheesecloth around your dominant hand's fingertips a few times, and then dip your cloth-covered fingers in dark brown or red-brown wood glaze. Apply the dirt-simulating glaze around crevices, along moldings, down edges and around your crackle glaze "cracks."

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear a mask as you sand.
  • Work with glazes outdoors or in well-ventilated rooms.

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References

  • "Priscilla Hauser's Painted Furniture"; Priscilla Hauser; 2005
  • "Faux Chic: Creating the Rich Look You Want for Less"; Carol Endler Strebenz, et al.; 2004
  • Photo Credit Maria Teijeiro/Lifesize/Getty Images
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