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How to Make Wood Look Like Barn Wood

Updated February 21, 2017

Barn wood is rustic, rough and gritty. It gives an earthy, grounded look to furniture and trim. In recent years, wooden barns are being replaced with metal structures more and more, making wood barns scarce and barn wood hard to come by. By replicating some of the elements of the natural weathering process, you can create faux barn wood from new stock that you pick up from your local lumber yard. The process will take at least a day to complete, so be sure to plan your faux barn wood project far enough in advance to get the work done.

Choose wood with an open grain and rough texture. Rough cedar works well and is readily available in fence pickets and boards for outside trim. Lay your wood out on a pair of saw horses or another sturdy work surface.

Place a piece of steel wool in a jar with a cup of white vinegar, and cover the jar with a lid. Leave the vinegar and steel covered for one day. Keep your head back when opening the lid; the fumes can be quite powerful.

Apply the vinegar solution to the surface of the wood with a paint brush. This will result in a greying effect similar to sun bleaching. Apply the solution to all of the faces of the wood that will be exposed in the finished product. Allow it to dry.

Dry brush on a streaky coat of latex paint in your choice of colours. Red, blue, green and white in muted shades work well. Use flat paint for best results. Wipe most of the paint from the surface with a rag while it is still wet. Allow the remaining paint to dry.

Beat the wood with a chain, ball peen hammer or other heavy, blunt object to give it texture. Stab the surface of the wood with a wood chisel in random spots. Drive large nails into the surface of the board and pull them out to give the look of nail holes and tool marks.

Sand the entire surface of the board with a belt sander and an 80 grit belt. Go over the entire board with one light pass and scuff up edges and ends. Do not try to sand out any of the texture marks you added. This step is to remove more of the paint.

Apply a final coat of the vinegar ageing solution, and allow it to dry.

Things You'll Need

  • White vinegar
  • Steel wool
  • Jar with lid
  • Rough textured wood stock
  • Chain
  • Ballpeen hammer
  • Belt sander
  • Latex
  • Paint brush
  • Chisel
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About the Author

Mark Morris started writing professionally in 1995. He has published a novel and stage plays with SEEDS studio. Morris specializes in many topics and has 15 years of professional carpentry experience. He is a voice, acting and film teacher. He also teaches stage craft and lectures on playwriting for Oklahoma Christian University.