How to Age a Wood Beam

Written by jo burns
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How to Age a Wood Beam
Exposure to the elements creates natural ageing. (courtyard image by rrruss from

An exposed wood beam can be an attractive addition to a room's appeal, but if you are replacing a beam or installing non-structural beams to create an old-world look, chances are a brand new piece of lumber will look out of place. Fortunately, there are ways to make a beam look like it's 100 years old that take much less time than nature's technique.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Hatchet
  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Ice pick
  • Sandpaper
  • Stain
  • Glaze
  • Brushes
  • Rags

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  1. 1

    Roughen up the look of the beam by gouging, chopping or banging it with a variety of instruments. Depending on the degree of ageing you wish to create, chop shavings from the edges of the beam with a hatchet, dig "termite tunnels" into it with an ice pick or hammer it firmly enough to leave marks. Use whatever tools are available to get the look you want, including stones, chains, lumber scraps or sturdy gardening tools.

  2. 2

    Sand the edges of the beam and the chips/holes you created to make them look aged. Begin with an 80 grit paper to remove splinters and knock down any crisp edges. Work with a medium then a fine grit paper, such as 120, to get the beam as smooth as possible.

  3. 3

    Apply a stain or glaze to the beam, depending on the look you're trying to achieve. Create an antiqued effect by brushing on a coat of dark stain, such as walnut, and allowing the product that pools in the beam's divots and scratches to remain behind when you wipe the stain off. Dabbing on two colours of wood-toned glaze with a rag and allowing them to randomly overlap creates a multidimensional look.

Tips and warnings

  • Practice your ageing techniques on a piece of scrap lumber before trying them on a costly beam. You may need to experiment with several tools before you find the one that creates the look you want.

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