Weathered Rustic Table

Have you noticed that weathered and rustic furniture is everywhere right now?  Unless you are living under a rock, how could you not?  It’s in Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Ballard Designs, Anthropologie and the list goes on and on.  Has it always been there and I just never noticed it until now?  And all the projects that are on Pinterest using old wood pallets.  If only I could get my hands on some wood pallets.  I have to make a mental note…Find wood pallets.

I am in love with what Katie did here in her adorable son’s nursery at her first house.

Are you kidding me with these floors…

I found this next one on pinterest, it linked back to several places.  But, the point is…how fantastic is this.  So functional, too!  I could see this in an office, a crafting room, playroom, pretty much anywhere.

Well, I really wanted to add a bit of rustic to our house and I really loved all the rustic furniture that I was seeing.   I didn’t have any wood pallets to play around with and I knew that I reeeeaaally wanted a rustic table.  But the problem was this.  We had a dining room table that was passed down to us from my parents.

So, you are probably thinking…craigslist the sucker and go buy a new one already.  Not so easy my friends.  We are talking about my childhood table, the one I sat at almost every night eating Hamburger or Tuna Helper…(ha ha, just kidding mom!)  I remember sitting at this table playing with my smurf figurines, many family dinners together laughing and talking and perhaps throwing whatever it was on my plate that I was expected to eat and didn’t want under the table to the dogs who were always happy to get some table scraps.

Even when a tornado hit our house growing up and ripped off half our roof, I somehow became the incredible hulk and moved this whole table out of the way so it wouldn’t get damaged by all the water pouring in.  You see, we go way back.  There was no way on God’s green Earth that I was going to be able to get rid of our table.   So, I had to figure how to age this table that didn’t involve letting it sit outside for 20 years to weather on it’s own.

I got to looking around and Ashley, who pretty much can do everything under the sun, had posted her lazy susan project in which she used a technique that she had learned in school to “weather” or age her wood.  Her wine barrel lazy susan turned out fabulous and I thought maybe I could try the process on our table.  I was terrified that I was going to ruin it so I took one of the table leaves out as a tester and thought I would give it a whirl.  Worse case scenario…I totally ruin the leaf and if I ever needed to use it, we could throw a tablecloth on that bad boy and no one would notice.  The plus side was that my mom had technically already screwed up the leaf…so at least I wouldn’t have been the first, right?  Can you see my mom’s Dale moment in the middle there…She would always cover it with a centerpiece.

What’s that you ask?  Why do I have squares on my garage floor?  Well, that would be my “Dale” moment.  Note to everyone out there.  If you are wanting to spray paint a clear top coat over some picture frames, you may want to lay down a drop cloth first.  Just sayin.  Aaaand, I may or may not have a similar looking squared mishmash on our concrete back patio…only in white…the color I spray painted the frames first.  Really adds such a lovely touch.  What can I say?  Sometimes it takes me a second to learn…maybe I thought that a clear top coat would be exactly that…clear.  Nooooot so, everybody, not so.

Here are the main players in this tutorial and the great news is that majority of them are in your own home right now.

First off, you are going to want to sand your piece if it’s covered in any kind of finish…you want to get down to the pure untreated wood.  I sanded the table down with my orbital sander, which is one of the best sanders to use if you are a beginner, and then did the sides and hard to reach areas with my mouse sander.  For those of you who are not familiar with sanding, here is a couple of pointers.

#1.  Start with a low grit (rougher sandpaper)…like a 40 grit or 80 grit and then gradually move up to the higher grits, like 120 or 220 (which will be much smoother).  This will allow your piece to be oh so smooth which is what I wanted.  You can definitely rough up your wood to give it more of a distressed look if that is the look you are going for.

#2.  Sand with the grain of the wood and try not to lift your sander on and off your piece a lot.  Keep your sander level and move it slowly in long overlapping sweeping motions.  I totally recommend using an orbital or belt sander if your furniture piece is on the larger side.  If you don’t have one, go get friendly with your neighbors and borrow theirs.  If for some reason you have no neighbors, then I believe you can rent them as well.  Don’t be intimidated by the power tools.  You can totally do this.

#3.  Wear safety goggles and a mask.  If your sander has a dust trap then you can skip the mask part, but if it doesn’t just know that those dust particles can be incredibly fine and the next day when your throat hurts, you will be wishing you would have put on that fifty-cent mask.

Once your piece is smooth, then you will want to wipe it down with a tack cloth or any kind of cloth for that matter just to remove the dust.

my table completely sanded

Now you are ready to “weather” the wood.  At this point in time, I was just trying a couple of different things.  The leaf on the left is what I like to call my knock off Restoration Hardware wood.

my testers

I LOVED this finish, but not necessarily for our table.  In a perfect world, I would love this look on my floors.  Don’t worry, honey, this project is nowhere near the immediate future ;).  If you like this look for your table or piece, then get yourself some Annie Sloan’s clear and dark wax and apply 2 to 3 thin coats and you are done.  If you are using Annie Sloan’s wax, which I highly recommend, you want to use an extremely thin layer of wax.  Apply it on with this brush, let it sit for about 5 minutes and then wipe off any excess with a dry cloth.  This is such an important step…if you use too much wax, your piece will take forever to cure and be incredibly sticky and hard to buff out.  Now, of course at first your wax will be a little tacky, but let it sit overnight and then you should be able to easily buff it out with a soft cloth to bring out a beautiful shine.  For tabletops or surfaces that are going to get a lot of wear and tear, I recommend doing 2-3 thin coats of wax letting them fully dry in between.   If you wind up using the dark wax, make sure you apply the clear wax first otherwise the dark wax will stain your wood.  I like applying the dark wax while the clear is still a little “wet” because it is so much easier to work with.  So, if you are using the dark, work in small sections so your clear wax doesn’t dry on you before you have had time to get your dark wax on top.  If you end up with spots that are too dark, just go back over it with the clear until you get the color the way you want it.

Like I said, I loved the leaf on the left, but I really wanted that weathered grey look.  So, I followed Ashley’s directions with the steel wool and distilled white vinegar.  I used both types of steel wool and definitely recommend the coarser version (the top one in the picture above).   I let it sit in the vinegar for about 4 hours.  Then I took the steel wool and used it like a paintbrush to paint the concoction on the leaf.  I wore gloves because it smells terrible (it does go away) and can stain.  Also, I really recommend practicing on something before you go straight to your piece.  When you paint the vinegar/steel wool mixture on, it looks just like water and then will proceed to get darker over about 20 minutes or so.  Because of this you want to be really careful when “painting” this on and use long smooth strokes while trying to prevent too much overlapping.   If you don’t have an extra leaf like I did, just go to Lowe’s or Home depot and get a scrap piece of wood similar to the one you are working with to practice on.  Some parts of your steel wool might rust and leave darker streaks, but in the end, it will be ok.  By the time I got to the end of my table, I was able to just dip a paintbrush in the mixture and paint it on the table instead of having to use the steel wool, which will eventually disintegrate.

Just like Ashley said, if you get it too “grey” then you can always steep some regular old tea bags and paint the tea over the darker areas to warm them up.  I didn’t have to do that because I knew I was going to whiten and highlight the grain of the table.  Ahhem…you may want to lay a dropcloth down because this will be very messy.  I did learn from my past mistakes and actually laid two dropcloths down.  A plastic one went down first followed by a canvas one on top.

Then I took Annie Sloan’s chalk paint in Old White and painted a thin coat on the table.

I allowed this to dry for about 30 minutes and then I took the rough side of a regular ole sponge and dipped it in water (as you can see in the top right hand corner of picture above) and rubbed it on the table to remove the paint.  Get ready for an arm workout because you will have to use some muscle to do this.  As soon as I would remove the paint, I would quickly follow it with a dry cloth as to remove the white from the smooth surfaces, but allowing it to stay in the grain of the wood.  You cannot make a mistake here.  If you remove too much white, you can always go back and paint that spot again.  You will have to continually clean out your water bucket because it will turn in to a white mess.

See how pretty that is?  This table is oak.  I thought the grain was so beautiful and I really wanted to accentuate it.

Now, as you can see, there was some streakiness where I had rubbed too hard with the sponge.  No worries though, I just went back over the darker spots with the white paint and repeated the removal process with a lighter touch.  Don’t worry too much if it is still a little streaky, the wax does wonders and really helps even everything out.

before waxing

So, this is the table before waxing.  If you have some tougher spots where the white paint is just not coming off, try some fine sandpaper and just lightly sand to remove.  Now you are ready for wax.  I only used Annie Sloan’s clear wax on this piece.  I did 3 coats on the table top and 2 coats of wax on the legs.  I let this cure for about 3 days because I just didn’t have time to get to it.  Then I took a clean cloth and gently buffed it.  It is so durable and I am so happy to say that we have not had any problems with the finish!  I am assuming that every so often I may go back and give it another thin coat of wax just to make sure it stays protected.  But, there you have it.  A beautiful weathered look!

And of course, a before and after side by side shot

after

before

Check out this post to see the total before and after of the kitchen & eating area.

I hope this helps all of you add a little rustic to your homes using the furniture you already have!  Stay tuned because I will be sharing more info about our homemade drapery rod.  Did I mention that it cost us less than 30 buckaroos!?!  Gotta love that!

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14 thoughts on “Weathered Rustic Table

  1. AWESOME!!!!! i love love love what you did! i have been dying to try the annie sloan chalk paint..but the price is holding me back…although i just found a “make your own” recipe that i may try! your kitchen looks great! happy friday!!

    • Thank you so much Hannah! I really appreciate it! You HAVE to try it, it is so worth it & I promise the paint really goes a long way. Try going with a neutral color so you can do several pieces… it will save you some $! Please let me know how the homemade version of the paint is… I’d love to hear! Your kiddos are adorable and it looks like we have a few “to do’s” in common! I have years of pictures that I need to transfer and why in the world haven’t I ever had coffee in bed?!? I never realize it until I read your post! That needs to happen fast…like as in this weekend!! Maybe you can get it crossed off your list this weekend too! Oh, happy belated birthday as well!!!

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  3. Love, love, love Jesse! Can you please come visit us and do some projects at my house??? Jeremy could take Sam hunting and we could “weather” the heck out of some things 🙂 JK, well, we WOULD love for you to visit but you don’t have to do projects in order to come 🙂

  4. Oh, and I have pallets!!! Wish I would’ve seen this months ago cause I can’t imagine how many have been trashed but I do still have some and maybe some more within reach in the construction dumpster….it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had to fish something out of there during this process….see, another incentive to visit 🙂

    • Omg!!! I have been searching & searching for pallets! I have called everywhere, the library, lowes, golf courses! I even have had Sam searching because he’s sick of hearing me talk about it! 😉 i totally don’t expect you to go dumpster diving (which i have done too, lol!) but if you get your hands on anymore, I’ll take em! That’s awesome!

      • You might ck the receiving departments at any colleges or schools in your area. I work at a college and in receiving. There’s never a shortage of pallets and we end up throwing so many away. Ck it out & good luck.

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  7. I just found your blog yesterday while on my relentless search for the perfect dining table finish. I haver searched high and low for the table of my dreams. I found a few but for about 3x the price I am willing to pay. Your table is FANTASTIC and you are my first and favorite blogger. My perfectionist husband is even impressed. Thanks for the post. I really, really want to try this myself but fear is a factor for me. May I ask how long it took for you to sand the original finish from the table? How is the new weathered finish holding up with kids? Any info helps. Thanks again!!!! !!!! !!!!! 🙂

    • Awe thanks Racquel!!! What a compliment! The sanding process did take some time, but I broke it up into pieces so I wouldn’t lose my mind. Thankfully the table was pretty simple without a lot of detail/crevices. I definitely couldn’t have done it without my orbital sander either…but the finish did come off fairly easy. Because it is still technically an “open” grain/wood much like a limewash it can still be penetrated. I used a couple coats of Annie Sloan’s clear wax which has done a great job for us…I just reapply a thin coat every few months or so. If you know your table is going to get some use & if I could go back, I wish I had just applied a poly to it instead of using the wax…it just would have been a lil less upkeep for me. Good luck & if you decide to go for it, feel free to let me know if you need anything else! I would love to see it, too!!! So glad that you “found” me!!! 😉

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