How to Antique Stained Wood

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Steel-wool pads
  • Face mask
  • Tack cloths or damp washcloths
  • Wood stain
  • Clear wood stain or polyurethane
  • Wood polish
  • Rag

Making a wooden piece of furniture, wooden column or other stained piece of wood have an antique look requires distressing the piece to make it look older than it is. You can use several methods to do this. You can even make new wooden pieces look antique.

An antique look can be accomplished during original staining by wiping away the stain as you apply it. This makes the stain uneven looking and darker in cracks than in risen areas. Use a rag to wipe away the stain, allow to dry and apply a layer of clear stain or polyurethane if desired.

Use the size of the wooden piece you are antiquing to determine the method you will use to distress the piece. Small pieces are easier to distress with sandpaper or steel-wool pads.

Distress the piece with sandpaper or steel wool by rubbing the wooden piece down with one of the abrasive objects. Rub over all exposed areas and press down harder on some spots and lighter in other areas to give the piece a more antique look from uneven patches of color. Use a rubber mallet to pound the wooden piece, especially along corners, this will further distress the wood and make it look older.

Use a tack cloth or damp washcloth to remove dust, sand and debris from the surface of the wood. Wear a face mask and work in a well-ventilated area while re-staining. You do not have to re-stain the whole piece, though you may want to if you got the piece too light some spots. Use a stain that is much lighter than the original stain of the piece.

Allow the stain to dry over night, and then apply a thin layer of clear stain or polyurethane to the wooden piece. Allow the clear layer to dry over night and then polish the wood with a wood-polish cleaner.


  • These antiquing techniques can be employed directly after the original staining of the wooden piece. Antiquing in this fashion is also accomplishable if the wood is painted, rather than stained.


About the Author

Stephanie Daniels is a freelance writer residing in Louisa, Kentucky. Daniels focuses on parenting, children, gardening and home-decor articles. She was the manager of Home Decor for Home Depot for 4 years. Daniels has written for many online publications and enjoys ghostwriting.