DIY Dictionary: Pickled Finish

What’s a pickled finish? Most finishes make natural wood darker. A ‘pickled finish’ – sometimes referred to as a bleaching or whitewashing – makes natural…

pickled finish reclaimed wood white washGoneWithTheWind/Shutterstock

What is Pickled Finish?

Most finishes make natural wood darker. A “pickled finish”—sometimes referred to as bleaching or whitewashing—makes natural wood lighter. Where did it all begin? In days of yore, lime was often applied to furniture and other wood objects to prevent bug infestations. Today pine, ash, oak and other open-pore woods are the species most commonly “pickled.”

There are a variety of ways to create a pickled finish. You can buy pickled finishes in a can. But some folks simply brush a coat of diluted primer onto the wood, rub it into the grain with a rag (the last few swipes going in the direction of the grain), and then apply a water-based finish. As with any finish, always test your technique in an inconspicuous area or on a scrap of wood left over from building your project.

This tutorial shows how to create a pickled finish.

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