504 Main by Holly Lefevre: How to Age Wood with Apple Cider Vinegar
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How to Age Wood with Apple Cider Vinegar

I have become the wood sign lady in town.
But I cannot be content with just plain old signs!
I suppose it is my fashion background - changing styles every season
I have to find new ways to make the signs unique.
So I am using a combination of paint and stains these days.
My favorite and CHEAP wood stain is vinegar!

How to Age Wood with Vinegar by 504 Main

I have heard about this method for years and years
(way before I even knew what a blog was).
I even have an old newspaper clipping about it.
Finally I decided to try it!

do not overthink it

  • (Real) Steel Wool  (I used 0000 grade)
  • 1 Gallon Apple Cider vinegar
  • Big bucket
  • Gloves
  • Paint brush ( it does not have to be a good one)

NOTE: I am using Apple Cider Vinegar. Different vinegars will produce different finishes (I am working on that!)
How to Age Wood with Vinegar by 504 Main

  • In my big bucket, I placed 6 steel wool pads and the entire gallon of cider vinegar.
  • Put the lid on the vinegar/steel wool mixture and let it sit...mine sat for about 4-5 days, so it is very dark.
  • I suggest trying the stain on a scrap piece (or similar) wood after 24 hours...if that is not the desired effect...48 hours...and so on
    • EDIT: The less you let the mixture sit the lighter the stain. If you are looking for a particular color, I suggest testing the mixture every 24 hours until you see the color you desire.
  • When my concoction was ready (to my liking), I gave it a quick stir.
    • Some suggest straining out the steel wool. I did NOT...there was not much left - bits and pieces...but I really did not care they were in there.
    • I transferred smaller amounts of the stain to a glass jar to work with- it is easier to handle that way (easier than carrying around a big old bucket full of smelly stain) 
    • Be warned...the smell is pretty intense...it is vinegar! I just did this all outside. The mixture smells, but I do NOT notice a lingering scent on my project.
    • NOTE: Now, protect your work surface - it may stain concrete or whatever is comes into contact with.
  • Wear gloves - seriously - WEAR GLOVES. My hand are even more aged right now!
  • Use the paint brush and brush on the vinegar all over. 
  • Let dry.
  • NOTE/EDIT (2/2014): Since this post I have played around a bit. I have started to rinse the wood off  after the stain has dried. It lightens the wood color a bit...and also it rinses off some of the residue that is left from the steel wool. If you do not rinse the wood...a "rusty" residue will remain on your wood.

How to Age Wood with Vinegar by 504 Main

Enjoy your cheap, yet GORGEOUS wood stain!
How to Age Wood with Vinegar by 504 Main

I really want to try the balsamic vinegar stain,
but that costs a bit more...but you know I will have to try!
Stay tuned to check out some of the new projects using this stain!

How to Age Wood with Vinegar by 504 Main

Have you ever tried this?

This post is written and created at 504 Main by Holly Lefevre


  1. Awesome! I can't wait to try this. Balsamic would be lovely I think :) Thanks for sharing and blessings to you, Patti

    1. I might have to hit up a store for some cheap balsamic!

  2. Do u have to completely sand first pre-painted, stained, or treated wood before using the vinegar stain?

    1. Good question. This stain is pretty potent ( might have forgot to cover up some of the area I was working on and have a bit of stained cement)... I bet if you sanded or painted finished wood it would still provide a stain that would vary depending on the color of the wood already and how much sanding you did. I have NOT tried this however....might have too!

    2. Ty. I have a piece that is already painted n waxed but i am not happy with it ....would love to go over the paint already on it and darken the whole thing up a bit....too age n weather it more... salvaged look would be a bonus! So the wax is what im concerned about.....will be very disappointed if it just beads up!

  3. This is so cool! Thanks for the idea.

  4. Any sealer required?

    1. Only if you want it sealed...I used this for signs (not furniture, etc.) so I did not seal it.

  5. Thanks Holly!! I appreciate this - I tried this and didn't have great results - but now I'm going to try again! Love how easy this looks.

  6. Love it! and love it's CHEAP even more.

  7. Thanks to Matthew, we were left with some weathered pallet wood that would eventually make up the Pallet Sign. custom wood farm signs


Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation! I sure hope you come back for more!

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