This rustic entertainment center was built from red oak and stained to look like it was made from a 100 year old barn.

This rustic entertainment center was built from red oak and stained to look like it was made from a 100 year old barn.

Ok, I know quite a few people are not going to agree when I say this, but I am not a fan of barn wood used inside a home. I say that with one caveat. Unless I can be assured the wood was properly cleaned and treated for contamination. My family raised tobacco and hogs in Tennessee for well over 100 years and the wood from their barn was contaminated with everything from nicotine, hog feces and lead based paint. The reclaimed wood market is big right now and it is coming from barns like my family owned. Therefore, it is really important to make sure any reclaimed wood you use inside your home is properly cleaned. In one such study conducted by the National Consumers League, it was found that 10% of the wood pallets tested had E. Coli and Listeria present. Dirty wood deserves a special mention as it can make your life miserable if you suffer from allergies or asthma. Dust particles, molds and other fine pollutants can cause irritating and sometimes life-threatening health problems, not to mention a few bugs might find a new home. So as I say, “simple things for simple people”. You can age wood and get the old weathered look without risking any potential health issues from using wood that may not have been properly cleaned and here is how.

My neighbor and I started on this rustic entertainment center on super bowl Sunday. We just got around to getting the first stain colors on it. To create this gray weathered look, we mixed up a little over a quart of white distilled vinegar and then shredded one 0000 fine steel wool pad and put it into the vinegar. We sealed it up and let it sit for a little over a week.  Today, we applied it to the red oak and as it dried, it gave us this amazing weathered gray look.  With some follow up sanding, we were able to highlight the grain and saw marks in the wood which made this newly built entertainment center look like it was made to sit outside next to the old family barn.  We used a sprayer to get the vinegar applied and used a brush when necessary. However, the vinegar solution can easily be brushed on. It goes on the surface of the wood like water, but as it dries, depending on the color of the wood and the strength of your vinegar solution, your final color can be darker or lighter. Followed up with a good sanding, it is now ready for the top coats. Different colors can be achieved by using apple cider vinegar, and adding more or less steel wool. Colors will also change with the types of wood used. So next time you are looking for an old piece of wood, head to the kitchen and grab the vinegar!  Check out the gallery for additional photos!

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