How to Make Wood Look Old in 3 Simple Steps

We adore reclaimed wood. At least how it looks. Not so much the price. You see, we don’t live near an abundant source of old barn wood. And what is found near us is definitely not cheap.

So we’re going to show you how to make wood look old in 3 simple steps!

how to make wood look old

We used this method at our Bungalow on the shelves we installed above our desk for our home office space makeover.
how to make new wood look old

Paired with the black iron brackets, don’t the shelves look a little antique or vintage?

We also employed this same process on our open kitchen shelving and our Restoration Hardware look shelves.

kitchen open shelves

kitchen pantry open shelves

Wanna know how we do it?

It’s really easy, I promise!

How To Make Wood Look Old


  • wood 
  • palm sander
  • hammer, nails, keys, etc
  • Minwax dark walnut stain
  • paint brush
  • link free rag


Step 1: Sand all the roughness out of the new wood. Round the edges a little bit to make them look worn and loved.

Step 2. Use whatever you like to add dings and dents. Hammer, keys, chain. Be sure to smash up the edges too.

Step 3: Use a super dark stain (with grey undertones, not yellow/orange) like Minwax Dark Walnut. The secret here is to apply the stain with a brush, let it sit for several minutes, then gently wipe off the excess with an old (lint-free) rag.

By using a brush, the stain really sinks into the dents & dings, making them nice and dark.

That’s it! Not complicated, not too messy, pretty crazy easy!!!

Do you have any projects you’d like to tackle using new wood – while making it look old? Do you use this same method? If not, how do YOU make new wood look old?


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  1. says

    Ooo that industrial desk is soo pretty!! I have also done some wood distressing and used multiple stains as well. Really seems to bring out the deep tones of the wood. Great step by step post! Thanks for sharing:)

    • aka design says

      We typically use the cheapie pine or spruce from Home Depot or Lowe’s. But you can use the laminated project panels if you want a smoother finish – it won’t look quite as ‘authentic’ though.

  2. Shann says

    Hi i am wanting to stain my tasmanian oak floorboards a grey with tinges of black through them. have you any ideas. i did see somewhere that you can use a mix of strong black tea and amonia. I have to be careful what i use as the top coating is a resin two pack mix. Regards Shann from Tasmania Australia. :)

    • says

      I’ve never used black tea and ammonia. You could try a dark stain brushed on and then wiped off to achieve the black (it will sink into the grain and any imperfections) and then stain grey on top of that? It would really be trial and error to get the look you want.