Add a Beautiful Antique Patina Using Wood Stain or Antique Glaze
Using wood stain or antiquing glaze is one of the most effective furniture aging effects that you can utilize to antique a piece of furniture. There are so many options with these two. You can take a piece of furniture with shiny, brand new paint, and add decades or centuries of natural-looking aging in just a matter of minutes, and the results are incredible.
Depending on the piece you are working on, using stain or glaze can be a tedious job, but the results are well worth it. Antiquing furniture with stain or glaze will add a darkened patina to the top of your piece, and creates the appearance of dark buildup in any crevices, lines, and design work your piece may have.
So what is the difference in the two? Truth be told, not much, but there are some minor differences. Both essentially perform the same function and perform it well. Wood stain is very thin and can be a little messier to work with. Glaze is generally thicker, will finish a bit darker, and sometimes is more of a paste. Both come in multiple colors and shades. Stain tends to work better if you are working on a flat surface, but glaze is our preferred choice when working on anything with design carvings, lines and crevices. The glaze attaches itself down in those surfaces and ridges very well with very little running, and gives your piece a fantastic, authentically aged finish from another era.
To show you how to do it we will take a look at some kitchen cabinets that we were recently working on for a client of ours. We glazed all of their cabinets using M.L. Campbell Vintage Alkyd Glaze in a ‘Raw Umber’ color. The cabinets were a brand new, pure white, and they wanted them to look antiqued to add some character and aging.
What You Will Need
Antique Glaze or Wood Stain – In the picture you can see the Campbell Glaze and also the Valspar Antiquing Glaze. You do not need both of these. We are just showing you some of the available options. Both are great choices.
Foam Brushes – You can use regular brushes, but these foam brushes are excellent for flat surfaces, and for getting the glaze to stick in crevices. Plus they are very cheap so if you don’t get one cleaned in time, it’s not a big loss.
Clean Dry Cloths/Rags – We recommend soft t-shirt or sheet material cut into smaller pieces. Lowes sells a bag of pre-cut t-shirt material cloths for about $2. They work very well with glaze and stain.
Wax/Polyurethane or Other Sealant – Minwax Furniture Paste works well or you can use something like Polyurethane for a higher gloss and stronger finish. We used the Minwax on these cabinets.
Mineral Spirits – Mineral spirits will be needed to clean up any glaze or stain that goes awry, fix mistakes, and sometimes you just may need to start over – Don’t feel bad, it happens.
How It’s Done
Start by cleaning your piece VERY well. Warm water and a mild soap or detergent can be fine if it is dirty. You can also use a cheese cloth. Whatever is needed, just make sure it is clean.
When the piece is clean and dry, mix your glaze (or shake it well), and dip your foam brush in. Now begin applying the glaze to the surface. It will look awful at first, and will be very dark, but don’t worry.
Wait a few seconds. How long you wait depends on how dark you want your finish to be. The longer you wait the darker it will get. But don’t wait too long. It will also begin to dry and will be hard to remove. 10-15 seconds should be plenty for most projects.
Use a Smooth Hand and a Clean Cloth For Best Results
Now take a clean cloth and begin wiping the antique glaze or wood stain off. It will take a little practice to get the feel for this. Just work with it. You have at least 15 minutes, and maybe more depending on humidity, climate, and temperature so just work with it until you get the look you like. Apply more glaze if you take too much off, and use the mineral spirits to clean up mistakes or remove the glaze all together.
Get Your Groove On
Next you want to start working the glaze/stain into any grooves, lines, design work like in the first picture at the top of the page. This is where the best effects are made with antique glaze and stain. On this cabinet door you can see we had some nice grooves to work with, and this is where the foam brushes come in handy.
Dip the brush in the glaze and use the pointed tip to work the glaze into the grooves. Wipe any runs, and wipe back some of the glaze in the grooves if you get it darker than you like using a nice, clean, dry cloth. Just work with it until it starts looking authentically aged. Go with your instincts. You will know when it looks right. The keys with this technique are being patient, and working with it until you get it right.
Let it Dry, then Seal it
We would generally recommend waiting at least 24 hours, but 48 would be better. Just make sure it is fully dry before sealing the piece. If the piece is not completely dry you will wipe off your lovely new antiqued patina when you try to apply the wax or polyurethane. This will cause a big problem and will ruin your work. Just be patient and make extra sure that all of the glaze/stain is perfectly dry and will not wipe off when you apply the sealant.
Now that your piece is completely dry, go ahead and seal it with wax or polyurethane and you are all set. If you are using furniture wax, just apply with clean, dry, lint-free cloths (t-shirt material works great). Apply in a circular motion and cover the whole piece. Wait at least 15 minutes, then buff the entire piece with a new, clean cloth. The more you buff, the higher the finish shine will be.
Pro Tip: Wax will easily build up in grooves, crevices and design work so keep your eyes out for that and use a Q-Tip or something similar to easily remove it.
Using wood stain is the exact same process as the glaze. Just follow the steps above if you want to use stain.
We hope you have enjoyed this free tutorial on how to antique furniture with glaze or stain. It is a very time consuming job, especially if working on a large project like cabinets, but learning this technique alone can save you literally hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars.