When I first started working at Simpson Strong-Tie, I proposed adding painted wood projects to our online DIY library. Since I was a novice DIYer, I even included a redwood project on my list of suggestions! Our master builder Joe Way minced no words when it came to the way he felt about painted wood; especially on a wood like redwood. He strongly encouraged me to appreciate the look and feel of the wood grain.
While I understood his love of wood, I still wanted to find a way to add some color to at least a few of our wood projects. As a compromise, Joe introduced me to the process of pickling wood, which is a way to stain the wood with color, but allow the finish of the wood to shine through. It is a transparent color wood finish.
Pickling wood is not a new concept. In 16th century Europe, wood furniture was pickled with lime in order to prevent infestation from insects. While pickling wood was done for a practical reason, using the caustic lime on the wood gave the wood a decorative whitewashed effect, too. Now, you can pickle wood in a variety of colors. Pickling wood gives DIY projects a vintage feel in a similar way that distressing wood does.
Here is an example of a wood cabinet with an avocado green pickling effect.
To create a DIY pickling finish, you can water down paint or purchase a premade pickling finish. The whole point is to create a distressed effect to the wood that makes the wood look aged. You can apply the pickling finish with a brush or a rag.
Here is a shot of the pickling finish we used for a recent DIY project:
With a finish like this, it is important to protect your DIY wood projects with a clear coat finish.
A recent DIY project is one of my favorite projects. It is a DIY tea table with a blue pickle finish that allows the natural wood top to really stand out in contrast.
Because I am partial to flowers, we did a finished shot with my orchids to really highlight the soft colors on the table.
Have you pickled a wood project recently? Do you have a great DIY pickling recipe? Let us know in the comments below.