Does Wood Patina?

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A patina is a thin layer of material that forms on wood over time. Caused by the interaction of wood with the environment, it is generally brown or black. Patina is a phenomenon that occurs naturally, but you can create it artificially. It also forms on the surface of copper, brass, bronze, and other metals.

Does wood patina? Yes, it does. Patina forms when the oxides and other compounds are produced by the wood as it ages. Prized by woodworkers and collectors as it adds elegance and character to a piece of wood. It also gives a lustrous finish to the wood. Patina also protects wood from damage.


Antique wooden chest with carvings

The word patina comes from the Italian word of the same name which means a shallow layer of deposit on a surface. Patination is when a patina is chemically formed or induced. A piece of art or furniture coated by a patina is ‘patinated’.

Patina is entirely dependent on the way people view it. Some people consider patina to be faded and old. Some others add great value to it because it is old – they consider it to be history. The use of furniture daily results in accumulated changes in surface texture and color over time.

The effects of the sun, wind, rain, and the local environment will create a unique patina. It also depends on the way you use your furniture and whether you polish it or not. It is amazing to see how a patina develops differently in every location.

Effect of Patina on Teak Wood

Teak wood furniture has a rich brown color. With time, this color deepens and fades into a greyish patina. You see the natural grain and the patterns of the wood. Your furniture becomes a soft gray with a little bit of silver. This silver finish makes teak wood furniture very popular as luxury furniture.

Preserving Patina on Wood

As mentioned earlier, a patina is a layer that forms on the wood when exposed to the natural elements. Worn down by nature, the layer forms slowly giving the wood a deep and beautiful look. Sometimes it takes decades for the patina to form on your furniture.

The word ‘elegance’ is what comes to your mind when you talk about antique furniture. The years of use, aging, and maintenance which create a patina brings about this elegance.

Restoring antique furniture is a daunting task because you need to take care not to damage the coat of patina formed over the years. Once removed, it does not come back easily.

Proper care and maintenance of wood can help preserve the patina. Given below are four things that will help you to preserve the patina of the wood- whether natural or man-made.

Clean Regularly

Woman cleaning furniture at home

The patina on antique furniture is usually protected by applying a finish on top of the wood. It is important to clean the wood regularly to maintain the finish.

Use a microfiber cloth and clean the piece to avoid dust building up on it. Dust scratches a wax finish easily, so cleaning it helps to preserve the finish and in turn preserve the patina.

Remove Grime

Using old furniture daily builds up grime. This dulls the patina. So, clean with a microfiber cloth every few days to remove the grime from the surface of the wood without damaging the patina or the wax finish.

Avoid Abrasives

If you lack experience in restoring antique furniture, avoid using abrasives to clean your furniture.  If you have to use abrasives, use ones that have super-fine grit. Higher the grit in the abrasive, the lower the chances of you damaging the patina.  Don’t use a random orbital sander – use your hands to scuff the surface to remove scratches lightly.

Use Beeswax

Woman hands holding pieces of beeswax

To protect the patina from scratches, apply a beeswax finish on top, bringing out the patina’s depth. The beeswax finish highlights it and keeps it protected with a wax film on top of the wood. Apply some wax directly on the surface and use a cloth to buff it to a shine. Elbow grease and good quality beeswax that hardens, help in preserving patina on wood.

Patina forms naturally when you expose wooden furniture to elements through time. On the other hand, you can create a faux patina or manmade patina within a short time.

How to Create a Patina Finish (Faux Patina) on Wood

It is very difficult to produce the exact results you get from natural exposure over the decades. But you can create your faux patina which gives a similar look to antique furniture.

You use paints to get the muted grey tones found on antique furniture. After that, give the furniture a distressed and worn-out look by sanding overcoats of paint.

The rusty patina paints give the wood a worn-out look. But then it also gives the wood a more metallic look than what a patina wood should look like.

The Distressed Patina Look

Here is how you can create a distressed patina look for wood:

Prepping the Wood

The first step is to prepare the wood for painting, and then apply a coat of white paint to it.  Take some sandpaper, (100-grit is fine) and gently scrape the piece to expose some wood under the paint.

Apply Paint

Now apply a layer of grey paint to give it the muted grey look (patina look) of antique furniture.


After the coat of paint dries, scuff the piece lightly again to give it a worn look. To give it a distressed feel and look, scrape it harder on the edges and grooves. The distressed look on your furniture is now complete. Apply a clear coat of wax finish at the end to give it an extra sheen.

Vary the Color

Don’t stick to just grey and white paint, try other colors to give your furniture a completely different patina look.

The most common type of patina wood comes by using a patina solution consisting of a mixture of water, vinegar, and salt. Apply this solution to the wood, and then allow the wood to dry.

You can also create a patina on wood by using other methods, such as staining, or burning the wood. These methods create a unique look for the wood. The final result depends on the type of wood used and the method used.

Repatination in the case of antiques is the replacement of the damaged patina. Removal or reduction of the patina may lower its value dramatically.


We hope this article gives you enough information about the formation of the natural patina on wood and how to preserve it. You also got to know how to give a faux patina look to your wooden furniture.

Does wood patina? Yes, it does. Weathered wood achieves an attractive patina over time. Like antique jewelry, older wood furnishings and accessories develop a tone that speaks of many years of use and care. The natural aging process permits this film to develop.

Your treasured piece of furniture will add a sense of history and permanency to your home. Patina present on wood, leather, jewelry, or metal makes it desirable. Patina also enhances the look of a particular piece. It is also a reminder of how long it’s been around!