I’ve got a handy process to share with you today. How to tea stain wood with three simple ingredients from your kitchen and get a weathered look on new or unfinished wood, without chemicals and really inexpensively. It’s more of a process than it is a project, unless you do like I did and make a batch big enough to stain your project, and every raw wood project you’ll ever make, like this Pallet Wood Wall I created in The North House Lodge using this stain.
A few months ago I had the brilliant idea of building a wood planked wall as a photo backdrop in my studio. It’s still a great idea, and will make staging and taking project photos so much easier and more convenient. I measured, purchased and cut 60 boards, laid them out in my living room on big tarps and tea stained them.
I’ll share the wall later, because I still haven’t finished it;)
But, I’ll share how to tea stain wood now, because it’s such an easy way to stain wood without chemicals, it works great and you’ll get a naturally weathered wood look for pennies.
Tea stain wood ingredients
- 1 -2 large tea bags – any brand will do.
- 1 steel wool pad pulled into pieces any, but not Brillo with soap in it. Just plain steel wool.
- 3-4 cups white vinegar
- paint brush
This tea stain recipe covers about 150 – 200 sq feet of wood plank.
You won’t need a gigantic pot of tea like I brewed. I have no idea what I was thinking when I made this batch of tea! This would have been enough to stain floors in an entire house.. or my house and a neighbors:)
Rip the steel wool into bits and put in the white vinegar in a container. Let sit overnight. Watch the container for air bubbles. I had to open the lid several times to let out the air. Or just leave the top off and slightly covered. The next day lay out the planks on a tarp, use the paintbrush and apply a generous layer of the white vinegar and steel wool solution over the wood. Let it soak in. Within a few minutes, follow with a generous layer of the brewed tea also applying it with a brush.
Here’s the hard part..
Sit back and watch the wood change color and start to look naturally weathered. It darkens as it dries.
It will age and look like its been sitting outside and weathered. Don’t worry about the vinegar smell, my wood didn’t have any at all when it dried.
I love this tea stain wood method and it’s a super chemical free natural wood stain method that kids can use too.
I’ve yet to put the plank wall back on my schedule to finish my photo back drop. On of the big challenges is keeping myself from pilfering the stash of tea stained wood for other projects! I made this super bench with it.
And another super project I’ll share with you soon 🙂
If you love patinas like I do, you may like these projects too
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What happens to the bits of steel wool? Does it dissolve?
Wendi Wachtel says
Thats a good question! Some dissolve and the rest gets tossed when you toss what’s left of the mixture.
I am planning on trying this today on butcher block counter tops (on the underside) to see how it comes out. If it works I’ll put it on top and possibly send a pic afterwards. Pray it does work out
Wendi Wachtel says
That’s a big change to your butcher block! I’m curious on how it went. I would think it wouldn’t last too long given that counters get wiped down a lot. Let me know and good luck!
Linda at Mixed Kreations says
Love the look of weathered wood! I have been using the steel wool and vinegar solution for a while now and love it, but I haven’t tried it with tea. I will have to give that a try as well. Love going chemical free whenever I can.
Hi Linda! Thanks so much. I’ve used it with and without the tea in the solution. The tea changes the color just a tad. The final color also depends on what kind of wood you’re using. Have fun experimenting with it! I’m sure you’ll come up with an awesome project!!
This is really beautiful, and I love that there are no chemicals in this!
I’m anxious to see your photo backdrop Wendi! 🙂
I’ve never tried this method…. I should give it a try – thanks for the tutorial!
Me too Gail! LOL With as much furniture items as you make, you’d totally find a good use for this stain. I hope you try it!
Would this work on an engineered untreated wood siding panel?
Hi Marcia. I’m not sure. I’ve never tried it on any other surface but raw wood. Why not try it in an inconspicuous place and let me know if it does work!
Marie at The Interior Frugalista says
Ooooh, after seeing your wonderful weathered wood I’m dying of curiosity to see your plank photo backdrop. I always have a container of what I call my “Giggle Juice” (steel wool/vinegar stain) kicking around in the shop but I’ve never tried adding brewed tea over top. I’ve heard of using either or for staining wood but not both. So I’m curious what advantage using both has?
Hi Marie.. That’s a good question and I don’t have the answer! I’ve had a few people share that they kept everything mixed up in a jar rather than brush it on in layers. I guess I’ll have to try it and see if there is a difference:( BTW- I’m loving your name Giggle Juice!
Mary Vitullo says
Great idea to make a planked wall for your projects. I have two permanently in my home and they do come in handy. You can bottle up the leftover and it keeps for a very long time. It just get darker, almost to an ebony color.
Hi Mary… I desperately need a photo backdrop so the wall will be pretty and functional:) Thanks so much for sharing your tip on saving the leftover stain too! Happy Thanksgiving!
Mercy Gallardo says
Hi Wendi! This is such a great idea that I would like to try…thanks for sharing! Have a great day. 🙂 Mercy
Hi Mercy. Ohh, you have to try this! It works so well and it’s so easy. Please share a picture of your project when you’re done on my H2OBungalow Facebook page:)
Dee Miles says
Your’e welcome Dee! There are so many different types of projects you could do with this tea stain. Have fun!
Wendi, I just opened my email you sent me. Have you ever seen a 68 yr. old woman scream and jump up and down (not a pretty site I’m sure) thank you, I’m just so excited. Thank you Thank you.
Hi Patty! I’m so excited for you! I know you’ll enjoy your new garland…I’d love to see a picture of your mantle when you hang it. Again, thank YOU for reading my blog, and taking the time to fill out the reader survey:) Happy Thanksgiving!
Mary-the boondocks blog says
Really beautiful colors there Wendi. It takes on so many different hues. I’ll definitely give this a shot next time I need to do something with wood. The result is very pretty and easy to do.
Hi Mary! This is a perfect method for you since you don’t always have access to supplies. I think it’s a good method for all of us actually, plus it’s so inexpensive!
I love the look of weathered wood, I have heard of this method, but didn’t know just how it was done. I can’t wait to see your wall when it is done. I wonder when you make to much how long the shelf life is.
Hi Patty 🙂 Like you, I’d heard of it but hadn’t tried it. Staining 60 boards was the perfect opportunity to try it and save money on stain. Besides, I’m going to paint over it, I just needed the base to be weathered so the wood would look realistically old. 🙂 Since you’re not mixing the tea and vinegar excpet on the wood I suppose you could save it in the fridge. Now I’ll have to try them mixed from the start:)
Jeanie @ create&babblej says
I love the look of weathered wood! (You should bottle up that leftover stain and sell it to the neighbors! ; )
Hi Jeanie and I Know! I don’t know what I was thinking when I made that ginormous batch! It turned out pretty though and I’ll definately use it again!
Christina in FL says
Wendi, the wood is absolutely gorgeous! Did you share your leftover stain with the neighbors? :))) Once they see the wood, they’ll want their own! :))) Truly remarkable results and I can’t wait to see the wall. YAYYYY!!!
Hi Christina! I should have, I made a big enough batch. At the very least I should have put half the tea aside for sweet tea! Thanks so much and I can’t wait to finish the wall too!