Making New Wood Look Old

If you spend any time at all on Pinterest, you’ve definitely seen any number of home projects involving reclaimed wood. We see old barn wood boards being used as accent walls and headboards, backsplashes and even light fixtures. It’s everywhere. And there’s good reason! It’s a beautiful look that works in almost any setting. Even a sleek, modern kitchen can benefit from the gray, natural tones and textures of a barn wood light fixture.

Unfortunately, finding old, weathered wood (at a decent price) isn’t always easy. But the good news is you can make your own! And it’s an incredibly fun project!

Not Just Color!

If you look at a piece of authentic barn wood that’s naturally aged outside, you’ll notice a couple of things: the wood usually has a gray, weathered color and the wood has a weathered texture. When aging wood–if you truly want an authentic barn wood look–this physical texture is integral. You can certainly gray or “age” any piece of smooth, pristine wood. But generally, it just ends up looking like a new board that’s been stained. It’s the physical distressing of the wood that gives it character.

So we recommend starting with a quick distressing of the wood. It’s not a labor intensive process and it can be a lot of fun. You can do everything from putting a wire wheel on a drill or grinder to simply sticking with hand tools. It’s up to you. We found that for our tastes, a simple stiff-bristled wire brush was ideal. We worked on pine planks and found that by running the wire brush over the wood in the direction of the grain, we very quickly were able to produce a worn and weathered look.

A SIMPLE TIP:

  • Use a clamp to secure the board to your work bench. Then you can put both hands on the brush and get a little more leverage. And, even if the clamp leaves a dent in the wood, it’s no big deal! You’re distressing it anyway.

Once we wire brushed the wood, we dinged it up in a number of different ways. Hit it with a hammer, pounded the threads of a bolt into the grain, drove a few nails and pulled them out, and finally poked a few holes to look like worm holes.

Get creative. There are no rules here! Well. That’s not true. There is one rule: Know When To Quit! This is so important. When the wood looks good, quit. Sometimes we keep going thinking that we will make it look older and older with all our different distressing methods. However, what actually happens is that the piece begins to look fake! So quit when you’re ahead.

Aging Solution 1: Stain

Once you’ve got the wood distressed, it’s time to add color and give it that “I’ve-been-out-in-the-weather-for-50-years” look! And there are a number of different ways to do this. The first we’ll look at is to use regular wood stain. We’ve got a formula for a darker and a lighter “weathered gray”. It’s something that looked good on the pine we were staining and it gave the wood a bit of that gray, washed out look. It’s simply a typical wood stain that you brush or rag onto the wood and then  rag off, depending on the color you want to achieve.

It’s definitely a bit of a trial and error process, so use some scrap pieces of wood and sample away! If you are coming to a RepcoLite for the stain, bring some samples of the wood you’ll be working on and we can mix up your quart, sample the wood, and adjust the color if necessary! And always remember to sample the stain if you’re going to switch to another type of wood. A stain that looks one way on one species of wood can look entirely different on another!

When you’re all done and the wood has dried (unless you’re going to add paint or other effects), we recommend top coating with a polyurethane. The number of coats and the finish you choose depends on the overall look you want to achieve.

BENEFITS OF THIS METHOD: 

  • A generally even color on all planks
  • Consistent color on planks even if one is stained 4 days before another
  • No waiting! You get your color instantly and you don’t have to wait several days until your solution (see below) is ready.

DOWNSIDE TO USING THIS METHOD:

  • A generally even color on all planks (some of the natural variations of weathered wood isn’t present)
  • The harder grain in the wood resists the stain to some extent and you get more contrast in the finished product.

Aging Solution 2: Vinegar and Steel Wool

The second aging method is popular all over the internet: steel wool and vinegar. We spent some time testing this method and here’s what we found works best (and will hopefully help you avoid some of the poor results other people have had). First thing, is to start with #0000 steel wool. Wash it with dish soap to remove any oils that might slow down the chemical reaction when you mix it with the vinegar. After you’ve cleaned it and wrung the water out of it, cut it up into smaller pieces and toss them in a container. Then half-fill (or so) the container with vinegar. We used white distilled vinegar, but apple cider vinegar seems to work as well (though possibly producing slightly different color results).

Anyway, once you’ve filled the container with steel wool and vinegar, put the lid on it (after popping some holes in the lid so gasses can escape), and let it sit for a day, two days, three days, or more. The longer it sits the stronger it becomes.

When you’re ready to try the process, brew a cup of strong tea (8-10 bags of cheap tea in a cup). Take the tea and brush it onto your distressed wood. You can let it dry (which seems to produce darker end results), or you can brush the vinegar/steel wool solution over the wet tea. Either way works–the important thing to understand is that the tea and the vinegar solution must be applied in different steps! Once you’ve done that, you will not have immediate results. Over the next 5-20 minutes, the wood will dramatically age right before your eyes!

One quick note about the tea: It’s not mentioned or recommended in every post about this project, but we found that it was essential if you really want a darker, weathered gray end product. The people who’ve tried the process online and didn’t like the results generally used ONLY the vinegar and steel wool solution. That certainly works, but it’s not as dark or rich as they were hoping. Here’s why: The vinegar and steel wool mixture reacts with tannins in the wood. However, by adding the tea you infuse the wood with even more tannins.

SOME TIPS

  • Be sure to strain your vinegar and steel wool mixture by running it through a coffee filter or a paint strainer to remove the small pieces of steel wool
  • Be sure to TEST, TEST, TEST! Try different methods, mix the tea stronger and weaker. Brush it on and let it dry. Apply the vinegar solution immediately. Try different methods until you produce results you like!

BENEFITS OF THIS METHOD: 

  • Very random, very natural aging results
  • Looks incredibly authentic

DOWNSIDE TO USING THIS METHOD:

  • Slower process because of the wait time necessary for the solution to become ready
  • Much more difficult to produce even and consistent results. The longer the mix sits, the darker it becomes when you use it.

The Comparison

Here’s a look at what we came up with using both methods side by side. The stain is on the right, the vinegar/steel wool and tea is on the left. Each side has it’s pros and cons. And largely, it depends on personal preference and what look you’re going for.

Just the Beginning, Young Grasshopper…

Try this project! Try it! We know that if you do, it will get your creative juices flowing. Once you see brand new, pristine boards become old and weathered, you’ll be thinking of ways to use them in your home. Or, if you’re like us, you’ll be brainstorming about other things you can do: you’ll be brushing paint on and sanding it off to create that look of reclaimed wood. Or maybe you’ll come up with something entirely different. We found that using a putty knife to apply simple spackling into all the grooves and the scraping most of it off produced the look of boards holding tenaciously to old layers of white paint. (We’ll cover this in a future post because it turned out so well!) Whatever you do, have fun! It’s a great project and it’s tough to screw it up. We’d love to see what you come up with. Post some pictures of your projects in the comments!

EP29 – October 21, 2017: Painting Tips from the Pros, Stinkbugs, and a Ghost Story (or 3)

 

Halloween is just around the corner and so we thought we’d take a little time and share one of our favorite guests of all time with you! Patty Meyer from the Felt Mansion joins us and talks about some of the real-life ghost phenomena she’s experienced. It’s fun. It’s incredibly interesting. And honestly, it’s a little creepy!

We also are in the studio with RepcoLite’s own Rick Wierenga and he’s dishing out all kinds of tips and tricks to make your next painting project as simple as possible!

Listen here:

Show notes for episode 029:

Painting projects don't have to be complicated. In fact, once you realize a few of the tips and tricks the pros use, you'll be amazed at the results you can produce!

Today we're joined by RepcoLite's own Rick Wierenga. Rick's been working in the paint world for what seems like forever. And over the years, he's learned the best and quickest ways to apply paint and still produce excellent results.

We're going to corner him and make him tell us everything he knows. (At least as much as we can cram into a segment or two!) So grab a pen and paper for notes and tune in!

Maybe you've seen these little pests around your home this fall. Maybe you haven't spotted them yet. Either way, they're coming! We'll talk about what you can do to protect your home from a very invasive species!

Every now and then, it's important to just have fun. That's the whole point of this segment. Absolutely ZERO home improvement value. Yet, it's absolutely one of our favorite segments of all time!

Patty Meyer from the Felt Estate in Holland joins us and tells us a number of chilling ghost stories--events she's personally encountered while restoring the Felt Mansion to it's former glory.

How to Get the Best Color Match for Touch-Up Work

You just moved into a new house. The walls are in pretty good shape, but there are a few spots you’d like to touch-up. So, with that as your mission, you head to the basement to look through all the cans the previous owner left. One of them HAS to be the paint you are looking for, right? I mean, it looks like the entire paint store is sitting on the shelf in your basement! But, of course, the color you need seems to be the only color that isn’t on the shelf. How does that happen?! And more importantly, what do you do now?!

Fortunately, this isn’t your first rodeo. You know that a quality paint store can match that color on your wall. But wait! Before you jump in your car and head to RepcoLite, here are some things you need to know to get the best possible match.

ALLOW ENOUGH TIME. We usually figure an average of 30 minutes for a color match. Could it be quicker? Of course! But it could also be longer. It will depend on how busy the store is, what the color is, and if the paint you need is oil or latex. It’s important to know that paint changes color as it dries. This means we need it to be completely dry to get an accurate match. Latex paint can be forced dry with a hairdryer but oil takes quite a bit longer. If you need oil paint, plan on leaving the match overnight so we can be sure it’s dry. Either way, oil or latex, what works really well is to work your paint matching into your other errands. Stop by on your way out, drop the color off with us, and then go do all your other shopping. When you’re done, swing back by the store and we’ll have it ready and waiting for you!

COME WITH A BIG ENOUGH SAMPLE. The bigger the sample is, the more accurate your match will be. We have a computer that reads color, but the sample has to be at least the size of a quarter. And even then, the computer only gets us so close. The color has to be dialed in by eye. We can see slight variations in color better if we have a bigger sample. So many times we’ll be given tiny paint flakes carefully scraped from the wall. They’re brought to us in handkerchiefs and tupperware. And they’re very tough to use to get a good match. The bigger the sample you bring, the more likely that paint is going to blend perfectly with what’s already on your wall!

COME WITH THE BEST POSSIBLE SAMPLE. If you are touching up, we need a sample directly from the wall you need to touch up. If you are painting an entire wall, you can cut a sample from a closet that has the same color. Either way, when you cut out a sample, only cut through the paper on the drywall and make sure it is in an inconspicuous area. This will make patching a lot easier and less likely to be seen after you repaint. Now, if you can’t get a sample from either of those areas, look for switch plates or vent covers that may have been painted. Sometimes you can even find a sample under the switch plate. Get creative! Whatever you can bring us will help.

Now that the color matching guru has worked some magic, you are ready to do some touching up. But before you jump in, remember: the best result will come from using the same type of applicator that was originally used to paint the wall. If the wall was rolled, you should use a roller. You want the touched up spot to blend as much as possible. If you are concerned about the spots showing, or if the color isn’t exact, paint the wall from one corner to the other. This will make it so that any slight variances will not be noticed.

EP16 – July 22, 2017: Decorating Fails!

We hear it quite often in our stores, “Oh, I don’t know how to decorate or choose color.” That usually happens after someone has had a bad experience and ended up with nothing but frustration. We are here to help you on the path to decorating success with three simple things to get you started!

Listen here:

Show notes for episode 016:

We've all heard of Pinterest fails, but what about decorating fails? Everyone has probably met someone, at some point, who says they either can't decorate or they can't choose color.

But the good news is, you CAN decorate and choose color. And you don't have to follow rules. We talk about surefire ways to fail when decorating and how to avoid them!

Almost everyone we know has a drill in their set of tools. And most people have screw bits and drill bits. That makes the tool collection complete, right?

Not quite! We tried some cool accessories for drills that will make your next project just a little easier.

  The first thing we tested was a right angle attachment. It's great for tight spots where you would normally have to angle the drill and still not have a straight shot at drilling a hole or tightening a screw. It's made for an impact driver, but can be used with a regular drill.     These drywall screw setters are great for setting drywall screws to just the perfect depth. You don't have to worry about a giant crater in the drywall or going through the paper. They help you achieve professional looking results every time.     This drill and driver combo is a huge time saver! Many people alternate between a drilling holes and driving screws. They take one tool out, set it aside, and replace it with a new one. This often leads to missing tools. This eliminates that. Basically, it’s a bit that has a drill bit on one end and a driver bit on the other that you flip , depending on your task. It saves a lot of time searching for missing drill bit!     These are Betsy's favorite drill accessory! No tool box should be without a set of easy outs. They make fast work of removing screws the have stripped heads. Betsy tried the "rubber band trick" and it didn't work, so she has been a fan of these every since.     We are aware that keyless chucks have made accessory changing a lot faster than keyed chucks. But we have found the even faster way. This quick change adapter will have you changing out tools in a flash.     And finally, we tried out the new Hyde Stir Whip. It made quick work of mixing paint, and the fact that it can mix grout and concrete as well, makes it a must have accessory in our book! Watch the Hyde Stir Whip in action!  

Sometimes painting can seem frustrating. What people don't know, is much, if not all, of that frustration can be fixed with a little extra roller knowledge. We give you the hacks we learned from the pros to help you get the best possible finish. They will save you time and money. And have you standing back admiring your job instead of picking fuzz from the wall.

We are joined in the studio by Joe Kuhns from Coverdown Consulting. He previews our upcoming, free seminar, geared at keeping young adults safe as they head off to college. Joe has amazing information that every college student should know. He reminds us that young adults often hear a message much more clearly from someone other than their parents. And who better to get that message across than a 26 year Navy SEAL?

Seating is limited, so registration is required. Click here to reserve your seats!

The particulars of the seminar:

WHAT: FREE seminar, Living Safely in a Dangerous World: College Edition

WHO: Anyone (Joe recommends people ages 15 and up)

WHEN: Thursday, August 3 at 7PM

WHERE: Celebration! Cinema in the Rivertown Crossings Mall

Common Paint Mistakes We All Make!

OK. In the spirit of honesty and the common good and all that, I’ll admit that I’ve made a lot of dumb mistakes in my life when it comes to painting. The thing with me is that I should know better. But, unfortunately, at heart, I’m busy. And this lack of time actually makes me an eternal optimist when it comes to trying shortcuts. I always figure that this time the shortcut will work. This time I won’t have a mess on my hands. Turns out, I’m almost always wrong.

Well, I’m not the only one who struggles with this. At RepcoLite, we meet people everyday who are like me. People who wanted to save a little time. People who discovered that shortcuts in the paint world don’t often end well. Here are a few of the most common mistakes we see on a regular basis. How many have you made?

One Coat Coverage or Die Trying

So you start rolling your paint on the wall. You’ve got a schedule to keep and a vision of the rest of your day and everything hinges on getting that paint to cover in one coat. And that’s when you notice, with a sinking feeling in your stomach, that the paint isn’t complying. It’s not covering like you hoped.

And so, our first thought is to load up that roller and by sheer force of will make that paint cover in a single coat. The problem with this is obvious: a heavy coat of paint on a wall will dry dramatically slower than a proper application. And the slower dry time will mean your finish will start to show sags and runs. These are huge problems that are not easy to fix!

If you find yourself in this situation, your best bet is to do what we all know, deep down, is right: Apply the paint as it’s intended. Two thinner coats are going to give you a better looking finish (by a long shot) than one heavy coat. And really, you’re probably not going to spend too much extra time anyway. Rolling two coats on properly isn’t going to be much slower than rolling one insanely thick coat on the wall and then dealing with all the drips and runs!

Scrub that Wall? Are You Kidding? I Power Washed It!

We see this all the time! We’re getting ready to paint our home or a pole barn and we know that we should wash it. And so we gas up the power washer, pull on shorts, lather up with sunscreen, and start blasting! We work our way around the house, engulfed in a rainbow mist, washing every ounce of dirt and grime and filth from the surface, right? Well…

As powerful and amazing as power washers can be, they will never replace the need for a good scrubbing on many surfaces we want to paint. Think of it this way: when you wash your car, what would happen if you just sprayed it with the hose? Do it sometime and check it out. Is it clean? Or is it still coated with all kinds of road goodies? We all know that scrubbing the car and then rinsing is necessary in order to really get it clean.

The siding on our home is the same. A power wash alone will not get it clean enough for paint. It needs to be scrubbed. And yes, I know that sounds terrible but it needs to be done. Skipping the step means you’ll probably have premature failing of your paint coat. If the surface isn’t scrubbed clean, your new coat of paint will bond to that layer of chalky residue or dust that the power washer left behind. That means it’s not bonded to the surface of your home or your barn or whatever . . . it’s only stuck to the dirt that’s stuck to the side of your home. That’s not ideal. By a long shot.

So get a scrub brush on a pole, a box of TSP, and scrub the siding before power washing it. You can still work on your tan and you’ll get a great cardio workout to boot. All the while ensuring that your paint job will last!

Wash My Interior Walls? We’re Not Pigs…

The same thing happens inside (without the power washer, of course!) All walls to be painted should be washed with a mixture of TSP. TSP is a degreaser and it will cut through all sorts of contaminants that will build up on our walls over time: cooking oils, body oils, soot from candles, just plain old dirt, and so on. Even if the walls look clean, these contaminants are likely there and they can prevent or hinder your paint from bonding well.

Also, trust me, even if you’re house is relatively spotless, there’s probably a stray cobweb or two on your wall. And nothing is more frustrating that rolling or brushing into something like that and getting it mixed up in your paint, on your roller, or in your brush.

I Just Stripped Wallpaper. I’ve Done My Penance. I Just Want to Be Done…

Another tempting shortcut when happens when we paint a room where we’ve stripped wallpaper. Taking paper down is bad enough. But then to think that there’s a primer step before you can finally roll your finish paint on is often too much for people. The outdoors is calling! The TV is calling. The tedium of wallpaper stripping has killed a part of our soul and we just need to rest. Skipping that primer step is so tempting!

But here’s the deal: wallpaper paste is water-activated. And no matter how well you clean your wall after you pulled that paper down, there’s a good chance that there’s some residue left behind. If you roll latex paint over that paste residue, the water in the paint will re-activate the paste on the wall and you’ll end up with a texture in your finish.

We see it all the time. And it’s a problem that’s typically only fixed with sandpaper on a pole. Which is definitely not a fun project.

So no matter how much you don’t feel like priming, it’s the wisest choice! You can use an oil-based primer like RepcoLite’s Pro Flo primer. Or you can use Benjamin Moore’s Fresh Start Multi-Purpose Oil Primer. Both of these can be topcoated with a good, high quality latex.

If oil’s not your bag, there’s one single waterbased option that we will happily recommend: Gardz Sealer from Zinsser. Gardz is specifically made to seal in wallpaper paste residue and we’ve seen great results when using it! So, if soap and water clean up is a must for you, there’s an alternative. But just remember: this product is specifically made for this purpose! Don’t use just any waterbased product. Because it won’t work!

Working Out of the Gallon Container

Who hasn’t done this? We pop open the lid of our gallon, grab the bucket by the handle and start marching around the room with it, dipping our brush in from time to time and working that way. I’ve done it, I’ve seen it done. I think we’ve all done it. But the problem is, it’s kind of a dumb thing to do for a few reasons:

It’s Heavy and I’m Clumsy. Carrying around a gallon can can be a little tiring. It fatigues our arms and fingers and just makes a project more painful than it needs be. Also, some of us (I’m thinking of me, here) are a little clumsy. The likelihood of me bumping into something and sloshing paint onto the floor is high. If I’m carrying around a full gallon of paint, the chances are even better.

Loading a Brush Correctly is Impossible in a Full Gallon. Yes, there’s a correct way to load a brush with paint. And yes, it’s very difficult to do that when you’re working out of a full gallon. (Here’s a video demonstration of the right way to load a brush).

Don’t Poison the Waterhole. I’ve written about this before. The concept is simple: if you’re working out of your source for the paint (the gallon) and you brush into a spiderweb, dirt, or anything else, you’re going to end up dipping that contaminant into your paint when you go to refill your brush. Suddenly your paint isn’t as pristine as it once was because you’ve introduced who knows what into it! This is especially true when working outside.

To get away from this problem, simply work out of a smaller container. We sell any number of them at RepcoLite. Get something light, easy to hold, and only pour some of your paint into it. It’s not as heavy, you won’t be as likely to drop it or spill it, and if you do contaminate it, the bulk of your paint is still clean and fresh!