How to Make Lumber Turn Gray

Nathan Joseph

Whether you're looking to match colors for a fence post replacement or want to add a weathered look to your woodworking project, the solution is oxidization. The tannins found in tea, mixed with the iron content of steel wool and the acid found in vinegar create instant wood oxidization upon application.

Weathered wood gets its grayish color from oxidization.

This mixture adds years of age to your wood in mere minutes, without imitating the color of aged wood like gray paints or stains.

  1. Rip or cut the steel wool into a dozen small pieces.

  2. Place the steel wool and 1 cup of vinegar into the jar. Seal the jar and wait 24 hours. The steel wool will mostly dissolve.

  3. Boil water in the kettle. Add 1/2 cup of boiling water to the jar.

  4. Steep the orange pekoe tea bag in the jar for 10 minutes.

  5. Remove the tea bag and stir the mixture. Soak the paintbrush tip in the liquid mixture in the jar. Apply the mixture evenly over the entire surface of the wood using the paintbrush.

  6. Immediately place the wood outdoors, preferably in the sun, to dry. If drying indoors, ensure placement of the wood in a dry location.

  7. Repeat as necessary to reach the desired shade.

  8. Warning

    This technique permanently alters the color of the wood.