I put a cheap plank of almost white new pine in the garden a couple of months ago - the grain is now far more visible (while not being raised) and the base colour has darkened. I would like to replicate this effect with boring-looking pieces of pine flooring so that newer boards closer match those laid over 100 years ago, but in a much shorter period of time. Thanks in advance for your insight.

  • I have no idea if this would work so I'm not going to make it an answer, but maybe you could put it in a high-UV environment like a tanning booth... Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 15:22
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    When I saw the thread title the first thing I was going to recommend was exposing the wood to as much light as possible but you already know that trick. There's no reliable/repeatable way of staining or otherwise colouring the wood to match the same effect when it needs to be used alongside old wood — if you stain to match the current look of the old stuff in due course the new pine will naturally darken underneath this and end up darker. [contd]
    – Graphus
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 16:37
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    There are various chemical solutions that can be painted on to wood to supposedly give an accelerated aged look, but I don't think they work quite like they're reputed to. They're all alkalis of one strength or another e.g. baking soda and washing soda dissolved in water, but the colour they give doesn't match what light exposure gives. When I tested this out a few years ago one or both made the pine distinctly yellow but not a mellow yellow, more like primroses, so nothing at all like older pine.
    – Graphus
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 16:45

2 Answers 2


...the grain is now far more visible (while not being raised) and the base colour has darkened. I would like to replicate this effect...

There are many tricks and techniques for creating an aged look, from chemical stains to ammonia fuming to UV tanning beds. The trick is to find one that produces the look you want on the wood you've got.

A lot of the techniques you'll find for darkening wood rely on chemical reactions that involve tannins. I'm sure you've heard of tannins -- they're the chemical compounds that give barrel-aged whiskey it's color it's color, that make red wine astringent, and that turn animal skins into leather. They're also the reason that some woods get black stains when iron pipe clamps meet glue squeeze-out. Wood species vary in their tannin levels, with oak and walnut containing lots of tannin and pine having less.

If you want to darken your pine flooring, the pickling process that involves combining tannins and iron might be a good bet. Because pine has relatively low tannin levels, people generally add tannin to the wood by first brushing on some strong tea, which is high in tannins. After that, a solution containing iron (made by soaking steel wool in vinegar) is brushed on. Lee Valley has a helpful article about pickling wood this way, and this blog article has a specific recipe and a photo showing results. The reason I suggest this method is that you can easily adjust it to get the results you want. You can change the amount of tannin that you add to the wood by using stronger tea or applying the tea more than once, or you can replace the tea with a solution of straight tannic acid (which might give more repeatable results). Likewise, you can change the concentration of iron in the vinegar solution.

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    Tannic acid + an iron solution on pine creates grey o_O
    – Graphus
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 6:18

There are really two parts to aging wood: coloring and physical mark-up.

To age brand new pine wood (2X4's in my case), I started with a flat head screw driver. Marked up the pine by hitting it at different angles of the head. Also, did a few deep scratches up and down, a few inches. Next, took an adjustable wrench with the adjustable part sticking out, beat the wood with it. Took a random strangely shaped piece of metal I found laying around and also made marks with it. Then took the side of the screw driver and hit the edges to get them "down", at least in some places.

Next, took a back of a hammer and actually cracked parts of the wood & dug holes in it. The digging looks very close to the natural "missing pieces of wood" (forget what that is called, knots?), but that may be too much for your garden, not sure what you are trying to match looks like.

All these methods were sprinkled on, as it all adds up fast, less can be more.

Color; First tried the vinegar with steel wool thing. While it looked okay...I decided to go with a stain. After the stain dried, I used liming wax. This worked really well, as the liming wax hits the cracks and wholes. Not sure if the wax will stay out doors so you could use a vintage white paint also.

When done, it looked very close to what I was aiming for.

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