Trying to decide what to do with that dull piece of wood furniture, or those outdated wooden cabinets, or maybe even that boring patio set? Want to add a little character but not sure how? Well, I think we may have just answered our own question. Let’s “pickle” it! And by pickled, I mean that sort of dusty, beautiful greyish, although it doesn’t have to be, worn look. Don’t worry, it’s super easy!
There are a couple of ways to go about this finish but the easiest method is to give that outdated piece a “white wash” or “pickled” look with a little white or off-white paint and water.
Remember, the object of a “pickled” finish is not to cover the wood with the paint, but merely highlight the grain by allowing the “wash” to seep into those areas.
I gave this finish a go on a set of patio chairs recently.
WHAT YOU NEED:
1. piece of wood furniture
2. chip brush (smaller brush for smaller furniture, larger brush for larger furniture)
5. one quart of white or off-white paint, depending on desired look
6. mixing stick
7. dry cloth (old t-shirts make great cloths)
8. one quart of sealer in choice of sheen, if necessary
First, find a clean, dry space to work with. I chose to paint these chairs outside, over a drop cloth.
Second, make sure you’re beginning with an unsealed, wooden piece of furniture/cabinets/etc. If there is a sealer on the item, you’ll need to remove it before beginning.
Next, take some white or off-white paint and mix with water. Any regular acrylic or latex flat paint you get at your local paint or hardware store is perfect. I usually begin with a 60% paint to 40% water ratio. The more transparent you want the finish to look, add more water. Obviously the more opaque, add more paint. Also, an old brush or chip brush, like the one you see pictured below, is good for this project. I’ve found that the courser bristles of these types of brushes give more of an antique or less perfect look.
Lightly dip your brush into the wash. If you get too much on the brush, press the brush against the bucket to drain some of the excess. And remember, when brushing onto the piece, make sure to go in the direction of the grain, using long strokes, as pictured in the chair arm below. The shorter your strokes, the more buildup you’ll notice in the areas where you’ve stopped and started again. You don’t want that.
Wipe away any excess with a dry cloth.
Again, make sure not to load up too much on the brush or you’ll drip the wash all over your piece, causing unsightly errors like the one pictured below. Be prepared to work quickly in order to keep this from happening. I was able to fix this one because I saw it before the paint had dried.
The great thing about a wash or pickled finish as described above, is that it dries fairly quickly. Therefore, if you decide you want to darken the wash or make it a little more opaque, you can go back over it again without wasting a lot of time in between.
Once you have the look you want, let it dry for a few hours, depending on the temperature and environment. You may need to seal the piece as well when finished. If that’s the case, let the piece dry overnight, just to be sure. I opted not to for the patio chairs because I want a less perfect, more distressed look.
And finally, I added some comfy cushions to give them a little extra pizazz. Nothin’ wrong with dressing a piece up a bit more!
You can also buy pickling stains at your local paint store or use an oil based paint if you prefer. Again, if you use oil, you would need to dilute it with an oil based thinner. Choosing between latex and oil is a personal choice. Latex is easier to work with, less clean up and produces less odor than oil. The difference is, latex tends to raise the grain of the wood, which may require a little sanding before sealing. The benefit to using oil is not only will it not cause the grain to raise, but you also have more time to work with it since it’s slower drying. When using a sealer, make sure it’s the same base as your wash or stain. If you used latex, use a latex based sealer and vise versa.
If you have any questions or ideas, please feel free to leave your comments below. As always, I would love to hear from you.
Enjoy until next time,