How to patina a piece of furniture ?

Do you want to patinate a piece of furniture? Its appearance does not suit you or no longer suits you. Inspired by the “fake old” trend, you therefore plan to patinate it. Here are our tips to make your project a reality.

What is a patina?

The patina is the result of the action of time or of a treatment applied to a surface. There are patinas that we could do without: in museums, certain sculptures, exposed to the hands of visitors, show black marks on prominent areas. We should also mention the phenomenon of corrosion which corresponds to the natural patina of metals.

In the art world, the patina comes in cracks, yellowing, flaking, deterioration of pigments, etc. It is possible to reproduce these effects on a piece of furniture. However, they require know-how and experience.

In this article, we show you a technique simple and accessible to all.

What patina for my furniture?

On the furniture side, one of the trends of the moment is the reuse of planks from boats stranded in Asia. The surface may be raw because it has been carefully stripped, but some pieces of furniture show remnants of paint because they have only been stripped in places, to “look as if” the surface has been worn down by time.

The technique we offer creates an effect of weathered paint.

Of course, you will find ready-made preparations on the market which boast the charm of the old in just a few applications. Not only are these products very expensive, but they are no more sparing in gestures than a homemade patina. So there is not much gain in expecting out-of-the-box solutions.

It should be borne in mind that, to obtain a patina of quality, gestures should not be systematic. The work of time is indeed random and the whole science of patina is to create a “pretty messy” look.

A traditional patina

The technique that we offer has the advantage of being able to be applied to new wood as well as to old wood.

The surface must be previously prepared. If the furniture to be patinated is waxed, remove the wax by rubbing with a cloth soaked in turpentine, then wash with Saint-Marc detergent. Don’t use too much water. However, if the wood fibers lift, let dry and sand. If the furniture is painted or varnished, sand it completely.

The water-based painting technique that we offer is traditional. Before the chemical industry made preparations evolve, whitewashes could be prepared with vinegar or beer, from milk derivatives (casein), or composed of pigments mixed with chalk and glue.

On the clean surface of the furniture, you apply a layer of varnish called “buffer” (it’s a shellac-based preparation that you can buy ready-made) half diluted in rubbing alcohol. This will darken the wood (old wood is indeed darker than newer wood).

After drying, spread small pieces of wax or Vaseline (in small thicknesses and that you stretch in the direction of the fibers of the wood) with a toothbrush or your finger. The areas are distributed randomly. The layer of paint applied afterwards will not be able to adhere: this is the expected result because it is a question of imitating the mechanism peeling.

Let the wax dry for at least 12 hours. After, apply a coat of aqueous emulsion paint in the color you want. Let it dry for a whole day. Apply a second coat of the same color, but in a darker shade, and diluted one third with water.

Half an hour later, scrape lightly with a spatula to remove paint and waxed areas. If the stripped parts are too marked, that is to say that the limits are too clear, you sand lightly with fine sandpaper the contours to soften the passages.

For a more subtle effect and to protect the surface of the furniture, you finish by covering the surface with a layer of beeswax stained “oak”. Softened, it will be applied with a brush. After 10 minutes, remove most of the wax by rubbing with a cloth to leave only a thin layer. The next day, you polish with a soft cloth: this will bring velvety and depth to your patina.

The advice to achieve the patina of a piece of furniture

It is better to make preliminary tests, either on hidden parts of the furniture, or on separate pieces of wood. This will allow you to appropriate the technique beyond the strict follow-up of the “recipe”. It’s the same as in the kitchen: the more you do, the more you succeed and the more you can personalize. The training will pay off: your patina will be more accomplished.

Also remember that water-based paints change shade between application and drying.

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