Gray wooden background texture design

How To Make Wood Look Old With Vinegar

The look of an aged wood is a very pretty sight. It has a sense of character. It’s something that has been around and seen some history. I’ll bet if it could talk, it would probably have some interesting stories to tell. Or maybe not. We have detailed some methods below to take some wood you have lying around in your garage and turn that into some that looks aged. Here is our guide on How To Make Wood Look Old With Vinegar.

Good Types Of Wood For Chemical Stains

When figuring out what type of wood you want to use you want to look at how much tannin each piece of wood has. The more tannin there is in a piece of wood the better the results will be. Tannin is the complex bond of oxygen and hydrogen particles found inside the wood. The more tannin there is, the more chemical reaction there will be.

The wood with the most tannin includes Oak, Mahogany, and Walnut. These 3 types have the most tannin make up. An okay substitute that still has a good amount of tannin make up is cherry wood. It doesn’t have as much tannin but still has a good chemical reaction. I would not recommend Pine or Maple wood unless you want a little bit of an older look while still looking new from a distance.

White Vinegar Stain


  • White Vinegar
  • Plastic cup with cap/top
  • Steel Wool
  • A brush
  • Wood
  • Clear coated finisher
  1. Add the vinegar to the cup. The amount of vinegar you use depends on what you want the final product to look like. The more vinegar you use the older the wood would look and vice versa.
  2. Let it settle, then add the 1 or 2 steel wool pads in. Make sure you break the steel wool pads up into small pieces so they’ll break chemically down more giving you a better solution.
  3. Next, let the solution rest for 24 hours giving time for the vinegar to break down the steel wool.
  4. After the 24 hours stir the substance until black with minor steel to no steel pieces left.
  5. Pour about 2 tbsp of the solution onto the wood.
  6. Brush the substance on the wood. Do at least two coats or until heavily coated to get the best effect.
  7. Wait at least 10 minutes for the vinegar to settle into the wood.
  8. Finally, add a clear-coated finisher to the wood to preserve the color longer.

We recommend Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane Clear Finish for the final step.

Alternatives to Vinegar stains

Baking soda stain


  • Baking Soda
  • Warm Water
  • A cup
  • A foam brush
  • Wood
  • Oil-based finish
  1. First, add at least 1 tbsp of baking soda to the water and stir it well. You want to use a high concentration of baking soda to get the best effect.
  2. Let settle for 5 minutes to allow for the chemicals to mix into the water.
  3. Next, apply at least 2 coats of the solution to the wood to get a good color. Just paint the solution on like you would paint with normal paint. Make sure to use a foam brush to absorb the solution.
  4. Let settle for about 5-10 minutes.
  5. If not satisfied add more coats to the wood until you like the results.
  6. When satisfied with the results be sure to add an oil-based finisher to bring out the color more.

Coffee Stains


  • Light, medium, or dark roast coffee
  • Grinder/Blender
  • Cup
  • Water
  • SandPaper (115 grit preferably) 
  • Wood
  • Paint Brush
  • Finisher
  1. First, grind the fresh roast until it has a consistency of sea salt. The light roast will offer minor changes, the medium roast will offer a darker with a little older look and the dark roast will make the wood dark and old.
  2. Next, you want to measure out either 14g or 28g of grinds per cup of water depending on how dark and old you want the stain to be.
  3. Stir the two together until darkened.
  4. Before painting the solution, sand down the wood with 115 grit sandpaper to allow for better. Try to use 115 or as close as you can get to give it the best look.
  5. Next, paint the solution onto the wood in a thick coating. Do this at least 4 times to get the best results.
  6. Let the wood sit for about 10 minutes then add a clear coat finisher on top.

Beets Stain


  • Beets
  • Blender
  • Container
  • Water 
  • Sponge
  • Wood
  • Finisher
  1. First, cut the beets in half to make blending easier.
  2. Boil the beets for at least an hour to an hour and a half.
  3. Next, drain excess water before placing the beets in the blender.
  4. Once the beets are in the blender, grind them up until there is a puree not completely liquid for best results.
  5. Pour the puree into a separate container.
  6. Use a sponge to dab the beets onto the wood.
  7. Do this at least 2 times to get the best quality.
  8. Let rest for 5 minutes then add a finisher to the wood to give it that old look with a red twist.

Red Wine Stain


  • Red Wine
  • Container
  • Wood
  • Sponge
  • Finisher
  1. Pour the red wine into a separate container and let the wine settle for about 30 seconds.
  2. Use the sponge to soak up some of the wine and either dab or rub it on the wood. You want to dab the wine to get the best results but it takes longer.
  3. Let the wood set for about 5 minutes before either adding another coat of wine or adding a clear-coated finisher on the wine to bring out all the colors in the wood. This stain will make the wood have a red tint to it. The red wine stain will be great for outdoor decks or if you are looking for an older cherry wood look. 

Black Tea and Vinegar Stain


  • A strong brew of tea
  • White vinegar
  • Steel Wool
  • Wood
  • Brush
  • Finisher
  • Cup
  1. First, add one cup of vinegar and 2 pads of steel wool into a cup.
  2. Let the solution settle for at least 20 hours. You want there to be minor steel wool left to stop the vinegar to overpower the tea.
  3. After 20 hours, coat the wood at least 2 times to get a good layer on there.
  4. Let sit for about 10 minutes before applying the black tea.
  5. After the vinegar has settled, coat at least 2 layers of the black tea. IMPORTANT NOTE – When preparing the black tea you want to use a lot of black tea. You want it to be super strong to get the best color.

The advantage of using black tea and vinegar rather than just vinegar is the black tea gives the wood the dark old look to it. While the vinegar just gives it an old look. I would recommend using the black tea solution when your house is a vibrant color so that it pops out. If you want you could add a top coat finisher to preserve the color of the wood longer than without it.

Copper Wire and Vinegar Stain


  • Copper wire
  • White vinegar
  • Pliers
  • Mason jar with lid
  • Brush 
  • Wood
  • Finisher
  1. To create the copper and vinegar stain you first want to grab copper and a pair of pliers or something easy to coil up the copper.
  2. Next, you want to put the copper into a jar or cup (make sure it has a lid).
  3. When you pour the vinegar in make sure it covers all of the copper making the vinegar able to oxidize the copper. This should take around 24 hours.
  4. Then, you should start to see the substance turn a liquid blue or green.
  5. Once this happens, apply the substance to the wood you are working with. You want to apply at least 2 coats.
  6. If the stain is still too light add a couple more coats.
  7. Finally, once satisfied apply the topcoat finisher to the final product. 

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

2022 © Woodworker Bee

I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites to keep this site running and provide additional content.