Aging Wood to a Silver Gray?

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Forum topic by Scott Hildenbrand posted 05-21-2009 06:20 AM 91464 views 2 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Scott Hildenbrand

71 posts in 3742 days

05-21-2009 06:20 AM

I’m looking for that nice silver gray like poplar gets when weathered, applied on pine T1-11 plywood. I’d like a no fuss stain that I don’t have to re-apply every so many years and can just seal it from time to time.

What methods do you all think would look best?

I’m trying vinegar and steel wool with a splash of muratic acid added in to see how that works out. Any other household chem methods to accelerate aging?

This is what I want to duplicate.

And this is what I want it duplicated on..

So what do you think I’d be best doing? The cheaper, the better.. It is just a chicken coop after all.

26 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3577 days

#1 posted 05-21-2009 06:25 AM

Hey Scott
I suggest grey solid body stain matched to you fence

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View LesB's profile


1728 posts in 3443 days

#2 posted 05-21-2009 07:20 AM

I use Olympic’s water base Latex stain in the solid color for my out building, including the chicken coop. I’m not sure they have the grey color you are looking for but it goes on easy (with no primer) and I have never had it peel or check. It needs to be re-coated about every 5 years. I just power wash the dirt off the wood and then spray it on with an airless paint sprayer. It couldn’t be easier. New wood may take two coats.

-- Les B, Oregon

View 's profile

593 posts in 3972 days

#3 posted 05-21-2009 07:40 AM

There is a natural way if you are willing to try and experiment a little.

A few years back I had to rebuild a complete deck and porch in a 170 year old log cabin in Washington state with a very limited budget and some other limitations. I was faced with exactly the same problem and I boldly decided to see what would happen when staining the wood with the material that looked the most similar to the cabin’s aged wood: ashes!



To my own surprise, it was perfect.

I used the domestic trash that was already being burnt in place and mixed it with some water, thus making a muddy paste that I applied by hand and then let it dry. Once thoroughly dry, I brushed it off and applied some clear (mate) protection I can’t remember now. I have to tell you, even I wouldn’t believe it, it looked exactly the same as the cabin and was protected by the clear coat.

To this date, I never had any complaint about the wood getting spoiled by the finish.

Obviously, this is not something I’d try on any project but, for that specific application it was perfect. One thing to note though is that the color gets way lighter when it dries. It’s just a matter of trial and error.

Now, if you try this and screw things up, don’t call me! :o)

View Scott Hildenbrand's profile

Scott Hildenbrand

71 posts in 3742 days

#4 posted 05-21-2009 02:07 PM

Jojo, interesting idea there… I may give that a try.. And I may give it a try mixed in with the steel wool solution..

The solid body stain [which is basically just watered down paint] is an idea, but I still prefer something that actually ages the wood so that reapplication is not needed and it looks more true.

At any rate, I need to finish the coop this weekend as my rooster [who stays inside at night along with the others] is getting his voice.. Sounds like a blasted turkey though… Gobble gobble gobble.

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1285 posts in 3737 days

#5 posted 05-21-2009 04:08 PM

Try using baking soda. I have used it for many years to age fences. Mix it with water in a fairly concentrated solution and just spray it on. Try it on a sample. It will get the graying process started quickly. Differnet woods react slower than others.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

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Scott Hildenbrand

71 posts in 3742 days

#6 posted 05-21-2009 05:45 PM

Thanks for the tip, John.. :)

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3585 days

#7 posted 05-21-2009 06:50 PM

can’t you just wait on nature taking it’s course nothing will beat the effect.If you like the grey stuff personally I do everything to avoid it ,just my choice I like things to stay new.I am a little odd that way LOL Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 3991 days

#8 posted 05-21-2009 07:46 PM

I wonder if that OxyClean stuff would do it, I mean the two components to aging are oxidation which the oxy-clean (or potassium dichromate) would take care of and UV exposure, so a sunlamp and a bottle of oxyclean and you should be set to go (and then some ashes for the dirt component for good measure!)

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

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Scott Hildenbrand

71 posts in 3742 days

#9 posted 05-21-2009 10:25 PM

Alistair, not sure how well the T1-11 will hold up. It’s just the 1/4” ply kind.. Nothing special.. If it was seriously good sheeting I wouldn’t worry so much. Just want to make sure it lasts while looking the way I want it to.

RE: OxyClean… I have noooooooooooooooo clue… Thought it just “cleaned”... If I had some on me, I’d try it to see how it works, but sadly I do not.

View Scott Hildenbrand's profile

Scott Hildenbrand

71 posts in 3742 days

#10 posted 05-23-2009 05:45 AM

Well.. I tried the vinegar and steel wool with the light splash of muratic acid thrown in.. No joy there.. Though it was a lovely brown, for sure. Will watch and see how it ages.

I’ve got a few other methods to try once I get back into town from my trip. If anyone else has any ideas, would love to hear it.

Up next: 1) White Vinegar alone.. 2) Apple Cider Vinegar alone.. 3) White Vinegar + Ashes.. 4) A rusted nail + Vinegar..

Mo clue what will happen… Think I’ll grab a few scraps of poplar to try it on that as well, just to see if it matches what happens to the T1-11.

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2640 days

#11 posted 05-03-2011 10:18 PM


A1Jim gave you some very good advise. We had to do this recently (match new to old) and had good results with a color matched pigmented stain. Sherwin Williams for this job.

A pic of our work that is very close to your color goal. This was prior to final coat on door and perimeter.


-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View verdesardog's profile


160 posts in 2611 days

#12 posted 05-04-2011 12:42 AM

The reason I would recomend stain is as you statet the walls are only1/4 ply, why deteriorate it sooner than needed. Stain it which will provide some protection from UV,,,,,

-- .. heyoka ..

View peteg's profile


4287 posts in 2823 days

#13 posted 05-04-2011 05:28 AM

For ordinary timber boards I would use (have used) Oxalic acid, it willturn your nem timber to look old & weathered, it is also good for rejuvinating bare “dirty” timber thats maybe gone a bit blackish or splotchy.
I got some years ago from a local Pharmacisit in powder form na dmixed 10 to one with water (by weight)
Not sure about ply though?
Another quick way is to do a slurry mix of swimming pool Chlorine, brush in well with an old floor broom, wet it occasionally with a spray (say acouple of times 15 mins apart then hose off, the Chlorine basically bleaches the timber & leaves it greyish

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View Nelly's profile


4 posts in 2379 days

#14 posted 11-21-2011 06:31 AM

Hi -

I found this post while looking for help on treating pine to make it look silvered. I have a room full of knotty pine T&G that was wearing a high gloss from the 40’s. I wasn’t feeling the love for the brown orange either, so I took my random orbital and sanded it all down. I did a test section with a oil stain from a well respected local store but it wasn’t really the look I wanted. I gave the baking soda treatment a try and voila! It’s perfect.

QUESTION: Can I put a topcoat on for protection? I don’t want any sheen and I don’t want the pine to yellow either. Is there something I can apply that would work over the baking soda?

Thanks so much.


View TedM's profile


2002 posts in 3732 days

#15 posted 11-21-2011 01:02 PM

I recently used the “Lifetime Wood Treatment” product from Valhalco and in addition to claiming to be “an eco-friendly, non-toxic wood treatment that lasts a lifetime” it also turns the wood silver.

From their literature:

“LifeTime Wood Treatment is made up of naturally occurring plant and mineral substances, combined in a special, 60 year old recipe handed down through generations of a family of craftsmen.”

“LifeTime Wood Treatment gives wood an attractive silver patina with variations depending on the type of wood.”

“If a new piece of wood is treated and installed along side older treated wood (ie. fence board/panel) the new wood will soon blend perfectly with the old.”

The garden boxes that I treated a couple of weeks ago have already turned a light grey and continue to change color.

So far I’m impressed with the product; no odor, easily applied, etc. Guess you’ll have to wait 25 years before I can give you an update on it’s preservation qualities. :) However, I do see that Parks Canada uses it.

Anyway, to find out more and where you can get it check out

btw, I’m not associated with the company in anyway. Just a happy customer.

-- I'm a wood magician... I can turn fine lumber into firewood before your very eyes! - Please visit and sign up for my project updates!

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