How to Give Wood A Sun-Bleached Tone

Create a worn outdoor-furniture look with this finishing technique

sunbleached wood outdoor bench with a basket of flowers
Photo by Peter Anderson/Getty

Wood naturally turns from yellow-brown to gray as the sun and weather slowly age it. But you can speed up that process with a quick paint job. This faded, grayed-out treatment makes new lumber look like well-worn driftwood.


Steps // How to Give Wood A Sun-Bleached Tone
1 ×

Sand and Prep

 
Step One // How to Give Wood A Sun-Bleached Tone

Sand and Prep

give look a sunbleached look sand if needed
Photo by Lisa Shin

Sand the piece if needed. Wipe the surface with a rag before removing any lingering dust or debris.

 
2 ×

Apply Wood Stain

 
Step Two // How to Give Wood A Sun-Bleached Tone

Apply Wood Stain

give look a sunbleached look apply wood stain to stool
Photo by Lisa Shin

Wearing protective gloves, apply the wood stain with a foam brush, immediately ragging off any excess stain.

 
3 ×

Wipe and Let Dry

 
Step Three // How to Give Wood A Sun-Bleached Tone

Wipe and Let Dry

give look a sunbleached look wipe off leftover wood stain and let dry
Photo by Lisa Shin

After 10 minutes, use a rag to wipe the piece down again to remove any lingering extra color. Wait 24 hours to allow the stain to dry.

 
4 ×

Apply Varnish

 
Step Four // How to Give Wood A Sun-Bleached Tone

Apply Varnish

give look a sunbleached look apply wood varnish and let dry
Photo by Lisa Shin

Brush on the spar varnish in thin coats. Apply two to three to ready the piece for outdoor use. Let dry for at least 24 hours before using outside. To best protect the finish, bring the footstool indoors in case of inclement weather.

 
 
 

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