Pickled Painting Techniques


Pickled wood is the look of wood from which paint has been unsuccessfully stripped, leaving remnants behind. While this was once considered unattractive, it is now a sought-after look. Pickled painting is a technique to give wood this look. Today the paint left behind is usually white or pastel but any color can be used. This effect turns out best on oak, pine and ash.

Pickling Furniture With Nails and Vinegar

  • One pickling method involves a handful of galvanized nails soaked in white vinegar for 2-3 days. The vinegar dissolves the galvanizing from the nails and when the liquid is applied to oak wood, a beautiful gray "dusty" look results. The term refers to the process of pickling the nails.

Pickled Pine

  • Pickled pine was popular for three-season porches in the Midwest during the 1980s. Test this process on a piece of pine before you start work on your porch or furniture. Mix flat oil primer or paint with turpentine and test for the desired effect. Apply the pickling stain evenly with a white bristle brush. Work from the top down. After 10-20 minutes, check the stain to see if it is penetrating the wood. Brush out excess paint with a dry white bristle brush. Leave the stained woodwork to dry overnight. Finish the wood with one to three coats of satin acrylic polyurethane, sanding in between coats. The pine itself will yellow over time if left untreated. The process of staining will keep the wood from turning yellow.

Pickling Fresh Wood

  • Begin with clean wood free of oils or grease. For a darker shade of furniture, apply a stain first and allow it to dry thoroughly. Seal the wood with a sanding sealer. Apply a coat of flat white latex paint in one section at a time in order to be sure the paint will still be wet. Wipe if off with a rag leaving just a few spots of paint. After the paint has dried, sand the wood until it is smooth. Varnish the finished piece with two coats of satin or gloss varnish.

Pickling Stain Over Pre-Painted Wood

  • Apply the white pickling stain over the top of the existing wood color. If the wood has a cherry-stained finish and white stain is applied, the result is a light pickled stain with the base color showing through the transparent over-glaze. The amount of the existing color that shows through depends upon how thin the pickling stain is. Test a small area of the wood before working on the entire piece of furniture

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