Lately I have been looking at tutorials for weathering some Maple wood with vinegar but I couldn't find any mention if it may cause any long term issues with the wood such as splitting, warping, etc. etc. So I was curious to know if there is any effect on the wood after weathering? Is there any effect with applying an enamel polyurethane after wood has been weathered? Would it be better to apply a varnish instead of poly?

  • Could you elaborate on the kind of aging effect you're after? And for what use? Different needs demand different applications.
    – user23534
    Jul 17, 2014 at 23:15

1 Answer 1


I've used the steel wool + vinegar method before*. It's essentially a stain so really only affects the surface layer. It shouldn't have any meaningful affect on the strength of the piece of wood. Splitting and warping is related to moisture and drying so wouldn't really be affecting by weathering stain.

After you weather it, note that most any additional finishes will change the color. With pine (and actual drift wood) I've found both water and oil based polys will give it a slightly darker, slightly yellow tint (varnish will typically add color as well). So definitely use test pieces before committing.

Rule-of-thumb is that water-based finishes will add less color than oil-based finishes. That said, if the goal is to 'age' the wood, perhaps no finish at all is suitable. Let it age even more in use. :)

PS (*) one trick is to pre-'stain' the wood with black tea. This puts more organic material into the surface of the wood for the oil and vinegar mix to react to.

  • More importantly, the black tea puts more tannin into the wood. That's the component which reacts with iron to produce the color in this approach. (Which, by the way, works better on woods that already high in tannin, such as oak.)
    – keshlam
    Jul 17, 2014 at 22:14
  • What ratio do you suggest? I was thinking 2:1:1 2 vinegar; 1 part wool; 1 part tea. Does the wood need to be pre - conditioned like you would if applying stain? Jul 17, 2014 at 23:01
  • @Matt I completely wing it. So, I'm probably no help at all when it comes to ratios :) But I figure if I'm weathering it, a bit of variation goes along with it anyways.
    – DA01
    Jul 18, 2014 at 2:11

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