How to Get the Look of Barnwood

You can buy hardware store lumber and make it look decades-old on the same day. Follow along with our easy steps for distressing wood.

It seems everyone is chasing the look of authentic rustic barnwood these days. We love it too, but its popularity makes it almost impossible to come by. The good news is that it’s easy to recreate the look of barnwood on lumber you purchased new from the hardware store. All you need is sandpaper, stain, and some paint; plus a few tools, of course! Take a look at our steps below, and prep DIY salvaged barnwood for your next carpentry project, like a set of barnwood floating shelves or a farmhouse coffee table.

industrial media center top detail

How to Get the Look of Barnwood

Supplies Needed:

  • Wood
  • Drill
  • Wire brush drill attachment
  • Sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Dark wood stain (we used Special Walnut by Minwax)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Lint-free cloth
  • White interior primer-paint
  • Clear polyurethane

Step-by-Step Directions

Create a weathered look on lumber with our how-to instructions for DIY aged barnwood. Follow our step-by-step directions, below, for the tutorial.

barnwood look scratching wood surface with wire
barnwood look sanding to remove loose pieces

Step 1: Scratch Surface

Using a drill and a wire metal brush attachment, abrade the wood by running the brush along the surface. The goal is to scratch the wood and raise the grain. Once you are finished scratching the surface, sand lightly to remove any loose or sharp pieces. Wipe away sawdust with a tack cloth.

barnwood look applying stain

Step 2: Apply Stain

Once you've roughened the wood surface, apply a dark wood stain. Like other staining projects, use a brush to apply the stain in the direction of the grain. Wipe off excess with a clean lint-free cloth. The longer you let the stain sit on the wood, the darker it will appear. Let dry.

Step 3: Sand Wood

Once dry, sand to remove some of the stain on the high surfaces of the wood. Do not press too hard, as some stain should remain. Wipe the board clean with a tack cloth.

barnwood look applying wash
barnwood look wiping off excess wash

Step 4: Apply Paint Mixture

Next, mix equal parts paint and water to create a white-wash for the wood. Apply the mixture to the lumber with a paintbrush. Allow to sit for a few minutes and wipe off firmly with a rag. The paint mixture should not dry before you wipe it off. Once dry, finish with a clear polyurethane, if desired.

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