How to Expertly Create an Antique Wood Finish

How to Expertly Create an Antique Wood Finish

Many people love antique wooden furniture, but not everyone wants to spend the money or expose a true heirloom to their children or pets. Some people would rather purchase an antique-looking piece that creates a nostalgic, old-style feel.

Because of this trend, finishing professionals may receive a customer order to enhance a piece of wood to make it look like it was finished in the 1920s, not the 2020s.

When striving for an antique wood finish, there are a lot of styles to choose from. How you achieve the desired furniture finish is a matter of artistry and training, but using the right products and professional techniques is a great place to start.

Guide to Creating an Antique Wood Finish

Consider our tips and tricks for creating an exceptional finish on wood furniture and similar pieces that call for an antique look and feel.


One trait most antiques have in common is wear and tear from the act of surviving the years. Distressing a newer piece can provide that look without waiting through the years of aging – but only if it’s done right.

Done incorrectly, the “antiquing” will be obvious, and not in a good way. To achieve an expert antique look, start by studying some actual antiques to understand what signs of aging truly look like. The trick to achieving a natural antique wood finish is not to overdo it.

Once you know the look you’re going for, start by smoothing the wood and opening its pores with fine sandpaper. Then, use coarse sandpaper to round sharp corners, add a few scratches, and soften the edges.


Once you’ve achieved the distressed look you’re going for, stain the wood using your preferred professional stain product.

For best antiquing results, do not start with a base or conditioner. The splotchiness resulting from not using a base coat will result in a more uneven finish that adds to the antique feel.


Perhaps the most important step in achieving a true antique wood finish is applying the glaze. This is where technique really comes into play. Anyone can purchase glazes and apply them, but it takes an expert to make the finished product look like a true heirloom.

Applying glaze to attain an antique finish is important because it adds depth and richness to the product that can mimic an old wood. The glaze gets down into the cracks and crevices of the wood grains to create the appearance of an aged piece.

There are water-based and solvent-based glazes. When applied properly, either will achieve great results. The main difference is the speed and efficiency with which you need to complete the project.

  • If you’ve been hired to manufacture a large quantity of cabinets, a water-based powder glaze will dry faster, allowing you to complete the job more quickly.
  • For a custom table order, you might prefer a solvent-based wiping glaze to create decorative effects to add highlighting and depth.

Once you’ve decided which type of glaze is best for your project and the stain is dry, apply the glaze by wiping, brushing, or spraying it on. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the glazing product you chose for the best results.

Pro Tip: Allow the glaze to air dry, then use Mirlon Total synthetic wool pads to rub some of the glaze off. When this rub-through technique is applied, more glaze is removed from the higher spots, leaving the deeper areas darker and giving a more pronounced effect. You can repeat the rub-through process as needed to achieve the desired finish.

Learn Glazing Techniques from Finishers Depot

Creating a true antique wood finish is all in the technique. Mastering the artistry of this process is the key to achieving the best antique finish. Finishers Depot offers classes and workshops to help you gain the expertise needed.

You can attend a hands-on training class at our training school in Houston, Texas. Or, if you prefer a custom training session for a larger group, Finishers Depot can schedule a session at your location.

At Finishers Depot, not only can you purchase the products you need to achieve the proper finish for your project, but we’ll also provide you with the training needed to handle every job request with professionalism.

Learning the tricks of the trade to create antique-looking wood cabinetry or furnishings can give your shop an industry edge. Finishers Depot products and workshops can help make sure you do it successfully.

Contact us today to discuss the industrial finishes and training opportunities that will help elevate the quality of your finished products.