DIY Natural Wood Stain

DIY Natural wood stain

My husband and I used  just finished our biggest DIY project for our home and created a natural wood stain to get the pallet/barn wood look we were going for.


A few weeks ago we completed our wood wall project on one of the walls in our home. Before starting our project I did a lot of research on Pinterest to find the look I was going for. I decided that I wanted the pallet/old barn wood look.

I first researched pallets and discovered that Lowe’s actually gives their used pallets away for free. This sounded like a great idea and a super cheap way to complete our wood wall. Then I realized the pallets would have needed to be cleaned and treated for bugs. Plus, you also have to check and see what chemicals the pallets were treated with before using them in your home (safety hazard). That all just seemed like a headache to me.

Next, I looked into some panelling sold at Lowe’s that already has the “old distressed” wood look. However, it was way too expensive for my budget.

I finally decided that we needed to buy the wood and stain it ourselves. Here’s the thing though, there are SO MANY different stains out there which is the worst for someone as indecisive as I am. Not to mention I’m the worst at staining wood and we had about 65 1 x 4’s that needed to be stained. I wasn’t interested in painting a coat of stain on each one and then wiping it off. So I kept researching and stumbled upon this natural DIY wood stain. This method of staining was a lifesaver!

I stained one board to see if I liked it. At first I wasn’t sure, so I bought a few small cans of Minwax wood stain to see if they offered something I liked. After staining two boards I immediately new the natural DIY wood stain was the exact look I was going for and the method I wanted to use. Over the next couple of days my husband and I stained all of the boards and got ready to put up our wood wall.

I have to admit that even before we put the boards on the wall I was a little nervous at how it would look and all come together. I’m happy to say that I LOVE the wall and the contrast of the wood.


To prepare for the DIY natural wood stain you steep 4 family size tea bags in two cups of boiling water for 24 hours in a medium sized bowl. In a separate bowl place one steel wool pad in 16 ounces of apple cider vinegar and let it soak for for 24 hours.

Then apply one coat of the tea to your wood boards. Allow this to sit for one hour to dry. Sometimes I didn’t wait one hour because I got in a hurry and it turned out ok.

After the tea is dry apply one coat of the steel wool and vinegar mixture. As you can see in the picture below over time the wood will darken. I got super nervous on the first board I did this on because the wood didn’t stain right away. Usually within 30 minutes the wood will be pretty dark. Once the wood dries completely you will be able to see the beautiful grey old barn wood look. I have several pictures below to give you a better idea.



This is what the wood looked like a day later once it’s completely dry.

DIY Natural Wood Stain Materials and Steps



  1. Let the 4 tea bags steep in the 2 cups of boiling water for 24 hours to make it really strong.  I left the tea bags in the pot while I was staining the wood. Combine the steel wool pad and vinegar in a separate bowl and let it sit for 24 hours too.
  2. Apply one coat of tea to your boards and let sit for 1 hour to dry.
  3. Then apply one coat of the steel wool and vinegar mixture on top of the dried, tea stained, board and let it sit until it dries. Within 30 minutes you will see the wood darken to a beautiful grey-ish/brown old wood look.


  • I had to use several batches of this to stain 65 1 x 4’s. Some batches I used the Dollar General Brand of Apple Cider Vinegar and I did see a difference in the color of the wood. It had more of a brownish color and less grey.
  • I did try using regular vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar on one of my boards to try it out and it gave the wood more of an amber color. It didn’t have that old barn wood look at all.

Have you completed any DIY wood projects? I will be revealing our wood wall this week so stay tuned!



  1. KatieMarie Roughton
    December 17, 2019 / 8:25 pm

    Does it have to be 0000 steal wool?

    • Anna
      December 19, 2019 / 6:41 pm

      I think so. I think the different wool and vinegar play a part in the color of the stain.

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