Using all natural products for a weathered wood finish
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I’ve seen hundreds of tutorials on creating weathered wood or a finish similar to Restoration Hardware furniture. Most of those contain lots of steps using oil based stains, paints, sanding, layering and tons of work. It doesn’t have to be that difficult, nor does it have to be something you have to do outside. You can create this finish safely inside with safe all natural products.
To start, you should always make sure you’ve prepped before beginning any refinishing. Prep should include a good thorough cleaning, making any repairs such as gluing up any loose joints or drawers, removing all the hardware and stripping off the old paint/finish.
Stripping paint and/or finish is much faster and easier than sanding. It can be done safely indoors and goes pretty quickly with the right tools. I’ve used tons of different products over the years and up until recently most are highly toxic. Strippers for the most part contained MEK (methyl ethyl ketone), a highly toxic and combustible solvent used in industrial plastics and removers. It has been put on the list of hazardous chemicals and pollutants since 2005. With the dangers of so many products that were used in the past I jumped at the chance to use a product that was both safe to me but also safe to dispose of. I rave about Soy Gel Stripper all the time, but I can’t stress enough how much I love it. It is hands down the best paint/finish remover available. I thought I would show you an example using another popular paint remover as a comparison. This dresser had layers of old brown enamel paint over old damaged shellac. On the left I brushed on Soy Gel Stripper. On the right I brushed on Citristrip.
Neither side had any accelerate such as plastic, heat or water. I brushed on the strippers in a good thick layer and left it alone. After ten minutes the Soy Gel Stripper side was already bubbled up and lifting the paint. It had also already started to dissolve through the old shellac.
The Citristrip side took almost an hour before even starting to bubble or dissolve the first layer of paint. The Soy Gel side had completely dissolved through all layers in about 20 minutes. I know many people like to cover stripper with plastic or put a heat lamp close, but you should never have to go through those hoops or extra work. Soy Gel Stripper does all that for you, brush it on in a thick layer and walk away for a few. Check it every 10-15 minutes until your entire surface has bubbled up, lifting the layers of paint or finish. It also shouldn’t be a huge mess. It should scrape relatively easy with a plastic scraper and leave little residue to clean up. Once you’ve scraped up as much as you can, use odorless mineral spirits, vinegar and water or denatured alcohol to clean off.
Once I’ve cleaned up all the remaining stripper, I set the drawers off to the side to dry.
The body was stripped the same way and repairs made to the loose joints.
I cleaned again with mineral spirits before starting any stain or finish.
I started by adding some color with stain. I chose Unicorn SPiT in Rustic Reality and Weathered Daydream. Unicorn SPiT is a water based colored gel stain that is non-toxic and safe to use indoors.
Using an old brush I brushed on both colors randomly all over the surface.
Using a spray bottle with water, I misted any area that was too thick and blended with the brush. Once it was blended I used a damp rag to gently blend in any other areas and wipe off excess.
I use an old rag for the flat areas and a chip brush to get into the details. Once the surface is completely covered, I wipe off the excess with a clean rag.
I wipe off following the grain and the curves of any details to keep the wax from looking out of place.
When using wax, especially good quality furniture waxes like Daddy Van’s don’t throw your rags out. Grab a Ziploc bag, label it with the color and throw them in with any brush you used for that color. Make sure to squeeze the air out before closing the bag and you can use them over and over. They also come in handy when you want to tone down a finish. For instance on this dresser I grabbed my rag for Café Noir to wipe down after I had finished with Farmhouse White. I wanted to bring just a little more warmth into the color and using the rag to just wipe/buff down the finish a little was all it needed.
I let it cure for 24 hours before replacing the hardware and reattaching the mirror. All finished and I love it!
Make sure you check out the rest of the posts in this month’s roundup for Crafty Girls and Furniture Friends!