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How to make your own ‘barn boards’ ~ DIY-style!

About yesterday, thanks for letting me vent all over all-y’all, and for the comments of encouragement. Pretend I’m giving you a big ol’ virtual hug. Actually you might be interested to know that I’m not the hugging type. I’m pretty awkward around emotional people, because I don’t know what to do. But it’s not a problem with affection… cause I’ll make out with my smokin’ hot man-child in the checkout line at Hobby Lobby. Any trained psychologists out there want to analyze that one?

Let’s move on from that, shall we?

Remember how I mentioned I’d love to snoop through your house? I was reminded of that just now when I realized the blinds are open on our huge bay window… and it’s dark outside… and all the lights are on in my house. Cah-REEPy.

That’s right, I’m blogging in the evening. Since Nick works second shift, sometimes it gives me something to do after the girls go to bed. (they may be in bed, but they are NOT sleeping at this moment). So this post that you’re reading right now was actually composed LAST NIGHT! It feels weird saying that, because ‘last night’ is right now for me.

Wow, can we say chatty? LET’S GET TO THE POINT.

I would like to show you how to age/distress wood to look old. It’s alarmingly easy. You’ll cry tears of joy, I’m sure of it.

We used cheap pine 1×4’s. And by cheap, I mean $1.82 for an 8 foot board.

I forgot to take a picture of our ‘before boards… but they looked exactly like this:



I started by whipping out some cans of paint in the color scheme that I was aiming for. I wanted navy blues and grays, so I had navy, two shades of gray (giggles), black, and white.

I took a dry brush, got a small amount of paint on it, and swiped it on. I added a bit of another color here and there… not even being careful to completely cover the wood. The whole point is to be careless! After all it’s supposed to look old and unfortunate.



I let this dry overnight, and then went at it with VERY ROUGH sandpaper (40 grit I think). It didn’t even take much elbow grease. I looooove the way the sandpaper makes the grain pop right away!

Some boards I sanded more than others. The key is to be random. And just truly not care.

You could almost stop there, because they look pretty weathered and all… but the last step is what really gives it something special! I promise!

After sanding and dusting all the sawdust off, I stained with a medium brown stain (Minwax Provincial to be exact).

I didn’t let the stain sit very long. I quickly stained all the boards, and then went back and immediately started wiping them off with a dry lint-free cloth.

How to make new pine boards look distressed (you can tint any color! {Sawdust and Embryos}

That’s it: {PAINT} {SAND} {STAIN}

Are you crying tears of joy? I KNEW it!

For your Pinning pleasure!

How to make brand new wood look like aged rustic barnboards IN 3 SIMPLE STEPS! {Sawdust and Embryos}
Click here to see what we did next!

Chiao chaio!


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  • Kenz @ Interiors By Kenz

    How easy! When I want barn boards, I just start taking my fence down. Your method is much easier than that :)

  • Anonymous

    love it, can’t wait to see what you did with these. Mary in NY (I’m a big hugger, not too emotional)

  • ChrisHasFlair


    Those are the prettiest barn boards I’ve ever seen!


  • Nine Red

    Oh my god, the tears of joy are all over my keyboard. These are beautiful! Have you heard of the tea/steel wool/vinegar trick for “aging” wood? That’s a handy tip too. Check it!

  • Diane

    I love this Beth!
    I can not wait to try your method and the one posted by Nine Red.
    Thank You for posting such a cool idea.


  • May

    Wow, I just found your site. It’s so inspiring.


  • PaigeRaschell

    ive been wanting to use barn boards to make a headboard. know that i know how easy it is, i can start this weekend! pretty pumped!

    hopefully after i finish current project of refinishing my wicker chair!

    • Bethany @ Sawdust and Embryos

      Ooo fun! Send pics when your done!!

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  • Beth

    About to do a small plaque and I am thinking of trying this distress method! I was wondering if I could use regular acrylic paint for the first step, or does it need to be paint that goes on wood/walls? Thanks

    • Bethany @ Sawdust and Embryos

      Beth you can use any paint !! Be sure to send us pics when you’re done! :)

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  • Konie

    Awesome…. and I love your sense of humor.

  • Rachel

    Was wondering were the other part of this tutorial was? Wanting to make one for a wedding gift.

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  • Kat

    I love this! If I were doing this for my floors, would I need to also seal it with something else as well?


    • Bethany @ Sawdust and Embryos

      I would definitely seal a floor with some kind of heavy duty flooring urethane. And I would use a hardwood instead of pine to prevent denting. Good luck! Send us pics when you’re done!!

      • Kat

        Thanks so much! We are only using pine because we got a ton of skids which we have used to build our whole stick frame for our house ( It’s a tiny house, 8×20 ft/160 sf)! The left over pieces are perfect sizes for flooring… I am worried about denting but it’s also what we already have.. :S

        • Bethany @ Sawdust and Embryos

          Cool! This is going to be such an amazing project! I can’t wait to see pics!

  • cheri mahon

    Hey just wondered did you use flat, gloss, or satin paint or does it matter? Doing our bathroom walls like this and cant wait to do it:-) yours look beautiful!!

    • Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos

      Definitely use flat paint, it will look more like genuine old wood! Good luck!

  • North Idaho Flower Lady

    I was thinking of doing this to the floor in my flower shop but I heard that the urethane may turn the paint yellow. Have you had any experience with this?

  • Micheala

    Did you use latex or oil based paint

    • Bethany @ Sawdust and Embryos

      We used latex in a flat sheen.

  • Tricia Lovejoy

    Did you stain each board entirely or just portions of each board? Looks beautiful!

    • Bethany @ Sawdust and Embryos

      I stained each board entirely. They turned out so awesome! I hope you give it a try.

  • Jgil

    Where did you find the boards so cheap?

    • Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos

      We bought these 1×4’s at Menards… which is a big home improvement store in the Midwest (if you’re not familiar) :)

  • DP

    Great project, Beth! I’m very excited to try it with an accent wall. If you were doing this against a stucco (outdoor) wall, would you nail/glue a thin layer of plywood against the wall first, or do you think gluing & nailing each wood board would be enough? I’m worried the glue won’t take with the stucco wall being so bumpy. Thanks!

    • Heather

      When my friends did a feature wall they found the studs, then nailed 2x4s vertically at each stud. Then they bailed the barn wood to the 2x4s. Hope that makes sense!

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  • Katalina @ Peas and Peonies

    I paid $100 dollars for 2 very small wood boards to use for photography! OMG I haven’t seen this before, I am ready to tell my boss that I need the rest of the day off and to run to home depot!

  • Stephanie

    I just started my own blog, do you mind if I share your link on my blog. I made a coat rack out of a 4’4′ using this technique

    • Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos

      Certainly! Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to see your coat rack!