Introduction: Coloring and Aging Wood Planks With Simple Painting Techniques

Looking for a warm and comfortable feel for a room in your house? Explore how you can turn new wood planks into those that look like weathered barn wood with a few simple paint techniques. This re-do of our den was done with a board and batten wainscoting but the wood treatments can be done on most any plain wood surface.

Step 1: Find Your Inspiration...

Inspiration! A picture frame in our house had a great look of weathered wood with mixtures of green and gold. This was the desired look so various attempts were made to replicate this look on scraps of wood with mixed results. Eventually I saw that technique was going to play a more prominent role in the final look than the specific shade of paint or stain being used. Realizing that perfection should not get in the way of progress, supplies were purchased and things moved forward.

Step 2: ... or Find Your Deterrence!

Deterrence: Just as important as what the desired look is to achieve, one cannot minimize the power of one’s longing to eliminate 40+ year old plywood paneling from the walls. Draw your strength from whichever is your deepest well and proceed. This Instructable will focus on the wood coloring for the walls, vs. the actual construction of the wainscoting.

Step 3: Materials and Supplies

MATERIALS: Tongue & groove planks were used in this project. Seeking a rustic look, boards were chosen for character rather than their clarity. Sought after characteristics were primarily knots, knotholes, and prominent grain patterns. Boards that were warped or cracked were passed over.

Paints and stains used in the final coloring were...

  • Gold spray paint
  • White gloss latex
  • Green wood stain


  • Sandpaper, various grits
  • Disposable gloves
  • Paint brushes of varying sizes


  • Sanding block
  • Paintbrush comb
  • Drop cloths
  • Paper towels
  • Saw horses
  • Paint can opener
  • Mallet for reclosing paint cans
  • Paint caddy or other smaller container

Step 4: Preparation

Preparation: Lightly sand the wood surfaces to clean them off and prep them to take the paint well. If your painting is inviting enough, you and your guests will want to touch the wood as well, so make sure it’s nice and smooth. Be sure to remove any stray dust prior to painting. When I was doing this for a room I had 12’ planks that I would work on in batches of about 5 boards at a time. That was the most I could lay out on my sawhorses at one time.

Step 5: 1st Color

1st color: I used gold spray paint to highlight knots and unusual features in the wood. It doesn’t take much, and when spraying the knots you’ll find that since they are the densest part of the wood they don’t absorb much paint. Just a light spray on a few features is all that’s needed. Don’t worry if you put too much on as this is the first of three paint colors. You can minimize the look if you end up being a bit too heavy handed. Let this dry.

Step 6: 2nd Color

2nd color: For the secondary color I used white latex applied with an almost dry brush. Paint in the direction of the grain. Try long passes over the unpainted surfaces, and dab things here and there. Enjoy the randomness. If you put too much of your first color on in any spot during the first phase, here’s your first chance to minimize it. Unlike painting a wall, you will want the brush to run dry. You can always put more paint ON easily. It’s a lot harder to take excess paint OFF. Let this coat dry as well.

Step 7: 3rd Color

3rd color: The primary color will go on last. I used a green wood stain and the gallon I purchased was more than enough for the room I did. Using a different brush, lightly load the brush and then dab it in a few spots. I tended to put the final colors on the spots where less of the previous colors had gone, and then as the brush dried out, blend the 3rd color into the original coats. Stick with the direction of the grain. Stain is much thinner than the latex paint and will flow (and drip!) much more. Be aware of this difference and go lightly. This is another opportunity to highlight grain patterns in the wood or other natural irregularities. Too much color after this step? Remember the sandpaper you got? If you really went overboard in a spot, go ahead and sand it. Since we’re looking for a weathered look, such irregularities are right in character.

Step 8: Relax and Enjoy!

Enjoy the fruits of your labors! The rather bold color on the tongue and groove boards was tempered by the white battens, picture rail, and baseboard that helped frame it. Also, as the room was furnished and decorated the color took more of a background role as was intended. The upper part of the walls was painted with a flat light cafe mocha color as a neutral background.

This was a simple process to create a cozy look. The green might not be your choice, but the techniques are very easy and can make whatever you wish to apply them to seem weathered and rustic in no time at all.

Go ahead and explore this technique and let me see what you do with it!

And if you like this -- my very first Instructable -- please vote for it in the Wall Overhaul, Wood, and/or First Time Author contests.


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