DIY Barn Board - The Technique You Need

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Barn board is essential to any farmhouse or rustic decor--I personally like a simple classic look with a few splashes of farmhouse style; contemporary farmhouse--but barn board can often be hard to find because it's in such demand, and can sometimes be a bit pricey when you do find it. Well, I think I have the perfect solution for you - make your own! Today I want to show you my version of how to DIY Barn Board. If you're interested, keep reading...

I am using brand new wood from the hardware store but you can do this to pretty much any wood, so long as it is prepared properly before hand (e.g. sanding, removing old finishes, cleaning), to achieve varying looks. Let's look at what you'll need.

THINGS YOU'LL NEED
- Pieces of Board/Wood
- Sandpaper (180 Grit)
- Clean Cloths/Rags
- 2 Paint Brushes
- Copper Coated or Steel Scouring Pads
- Dark Grey Paint
- Minwax Wood Stain in Espresso
- Minwax Water-Based Polyurethane

If you're doing this technique on an existing piece of furniture then first you need to prepared the surface for staining according to the directions on the Minwax Wood Stain label. If you're using new, raw wood like I am, the first thing you want to do is clean up all your edges. When wood is cut you'll usually end up with some roughness and splintering along the cut edges so you'll need to use your sand paper to get rid of that, as well as to knock off any square edges and corners. You want all your edges and corners to be soft and slightly round so it has the appearance of wood that has been used and worn.




Next stain your wood using a clean rag or cloth... one that you'll never want to use again because after using it for staining... well, it'll be ruined. To do this dip your rag in the Minwax Wood Stain to soak one end or corner and then apply it to your wood in the direction of the wood grain. For this technique you want to apply the stain and rub it in with the same cloth at the same time, so don't completely soak your entire rag.






Once you've stained your entire board you can now go back and apply more stain in random areas and around edges and corners. Since we want the stain to set in and be more concentrated in these areas, apply it and let it sit for a few minutes (about 5) before working it into the wood. Do this until your are satisfied with the look and then allow the stain to soak in for about 15 minutes before the next step.



Next, take your copper coated--or just steel--scouring pad (not steel wool, that steel is too fine) and "sand" the surface of your wood concentrating mostly on the inner areas so that the edges will remain darker. You want to do this so that you have some areas slightly darker and some lighter. You also want to scrub it in many directions--side to side, up and down, diagonally--to create random scratch marks. You can make this as noticeable or as subtle as you like.



Here you can see the board on the left has been "sanded" and scuffed with the scouring pad and the one on the right hasn't been yet. You can sand with a combination of sandpaper and the scouring pad if you'd like to experiment with the look, though I just used the scouring pad. I feel it is efficient enough in achieving the look I want.



The next step is to use a dry brushing technique to apply a dark charcoal grey paint to your wood, again concentrating the paint on the outer edges and corners, but also in random patches over your wood. If you have used the dry brushing technique before, or you're familiar with painting terms, then you may already know how to do it, if not, basically you want your paint to be very dry (no water added), and you apply with a very light hand. Sort of just skimming the wood with a lightly loaded brush. This works best with a very bristly, coarse haired brush rather than a soft brush. I used craft acrylic paint (Martha Stewart Multi-Surface Acrylic in Satin finish) which is generally more dry than a household paint, and can make this technique easier to do. 




Once the paint is dry to touch you can move on to using your scouring pad, once again, to scuff up the surface of your board and "sand" away some of that paint. Again, do this in all directions to create scuff marks, and concentrate most of your sanding on the inner areas of your boards in a random way on all sides, to allow the edges to remain darker and to have patchiness throughout.

Below you can see the board on the right is at the step of having applied the acrylic paint, and the one on left has been taken to the next step of scrubbing with the scouring pad.



Next take your rag and stain once again to go back and add more darkness to the outer edges and random patches all over your wood. You can go back and forth with your scouring pad, paint, scouring pad, and stain until you've achieved the look you desire. I was happy in this case after my first round of paint and scuffing. Once you are happy with the look, let it dry for at least 6 hours--I let mine dry over the evening and night; about 20 hours.



Now for the final step, if this wood is going to need to be wiped clean a lot (like a table) or installed in an area with a lot of moisture--like a bathroom in my case (tutorial to follow)--then you'll need to seal it with a wood sealer. I decided to use this Minwax Water-Based Polyurethane in Satin for a few reasons: First, I didn't want the added ambering or yellowing effect over time that an oil based polyurethane has on wood. And second, I didn't want my wood to be glossy at all. I wanted the look of unsealed barn board, but if you want a glossy look then you can get the water-based (or oil based if you prefer) sealer in a high gloss as well. And you can get a Varathane sealer in matte, too, but it's oiled-based and a little more expensive; I settled for satin. It's all in what you prefer at this point.

I applied 2 coats of the sealer and lightly sanded in between coats as directed.



And here are my finished barn boards!



It's pretty easy, right? You can really get great and stunning results, and if you want more distressed and worn appearances, put in a little more work and back and forth in the scuffing, sanding, staining, and paint stages. If you're like me and really love DIY projects, then the work put into projects is always worth it when it comes to quality results! I'm really happy with how these boards turned out and I can't wait to post the follow-up project for what I did with these boards! Come back to see!!

Sam ♡

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