Pine Ages Beautifully! Here’s How to Speed Up the Process

Reclaimed grey pine barn wood siding

While some materials might begin to degrade as soon as you install them, leading to the inevitable need to rip them out and start anew, pine just keeps on growing more gorgeous year after year. In fact, it’s often chosen for applications where an aged and weathered look isn’t just acceptable but desirable, like flooring or exterior cladding. New is nice, after all, but there’s just something special about a surface that looks like it has a history.

Pine performs this aging process effortlessly all on its own: the wood silvers to a grayish blue sheen over time when left untreated, and its softness allows it to take on gentle textures as it’s exposed to repeated wear. Highly coveted naturally weathered barn siding is a great example. People love it so much, they’re reclaiming it from old agricultural buildings to use indoors.

If you’d rather control this silvering process, you can apply pigmented oils to make the pine more UV-resistant. But if you want to bring it out or skip the wait altogether, you have plenty of techniques to choose from.

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First and foremost is the easiest route. Lumber sellers and even Home Depot often offer ready-made options, like shiplap pine siding in a grey weathered barn wood finish.

An intentionally weathered look is a great way to make use of lower grades of Eastern White Pine, which can be very affordable. Tutorials for aging pine siding, like this one from SF Gate, often call for distressing the planks with hammers and abrasive tools. You can also find rough sawn or wire-brushed Eastern White Pine for a rustic look without breaking out any distressing tools yourself.

Before and after: Treating pine with tea and iron vinegar via Family Handyman
Before and after: Treating pine with tea and iron vinegar via Family Handyman

The DIY Network recommends using natural household ingredients and materials like steel wool and vinegar to produce subtle aged effects in ashy or gray hues. But lots of manufacturers make stains that mimic weathering, like aging washes by Weatherwash Coatings and Benjamin Moore’s Arborcoat Translucent or Semi-Transparent Stain in Silver Gray. The benefit to choosing a commercial stain over a DIY method is more predictable results. If you want to enhance the knots, nicks and holes, work a dark paste wax into them.

Image by Frank Murray via DIY Network
Image by Frank Murray via DIY Network

Looking for more fine-tuned tutorials? Check out woodworker John Sankey’s thoughts on how to finish solid furniture grade Eastern White Pine for optimal results.

Top image via Elmwood Reclaimed Timber

Unusual Effects with Eastern White Pine: ‘Cloud’ Ceiling Planks

Cloud Eastern White Pine Faux Finish
Straightforward paint or stain application can certainly be a beautiful way to showcase the natural charm of Eastern White Pine, but it’s not the only way. Consider getting creative with experimental finishes that add a serious ‘wow’ factor to an interior space. This particular paint finish, called ‘Cloud9’, is definitely eye-catching when placed alongside black beams.

Cloud Eastern White Pine Faux Finish 2

Johnson City, Tennessee company Historic Flooring starts with a lightweight Eastern White Pine and mills it to half inch thickness, beveling the edges and lightly sanding the surface while preserving all of the original character, like saw kerfs.

Cloud Eastern White Pine Faux Finish 3

Craftsmen then strategically apply a special blend of gray, cream and white paints in rough, rustic layers that mimic the sky on a cloudy day. The result is almost iridescent: with the right lighting, it seems to come alive.

Pine is a particularly suitable wood for faux finishes. Its soft surface readily accepts paint and stain, so the possibilities are virtually endless. Pickling, the use of diluted paint, is a popular treatment for pine because the surface easily soaks up the paint for an even finish. Pine is also easy to distress with strategic sanding.