Get The Look: 3 Rustic Wood Finishes by Distressing Water Based Wood & Dye Stains

From GF University: Get This Look: RUSTIC WOOD, 3 Variations.


Learn how to get a rustic wood finish with GF water-based wood stains and dye stains using a unique wet-sanding technique.

For this pallet wood project, pallet board was stabilized on an MDF base using Titebond 3 Wood Glue & ½ Fine Brad Nailer, roughly planed to desired thickness, then glued and nailed to an MDF substrate to provide stability.

  1. Apply a liberal coat of Black Water Based Wood Stain with a foam brush.
  2. Work the stain into the grain with a cloth, then wipe off the excess.
  3. We sand the wet Wood Stain immediately, but you can let it dry for easier sanding. Sand off the stain with 150-grit, then 220-grit sandpaper. Sand lightly over rough areas so you see more of the wood's rustic character, saw cuts, and other markings.
  4. Wipe down with a tack cloth several times to remove black dust from sanding.
  5. Apply a liberal coat of the Dye Stain color of your choice.
  6. Wipe off the excess stain. The dye will take differently in some areas because of the first layer of Wood Stain.
  7. Let dry and then seal with any GF Topcoat.


  • Use Wood Stain FIRST. If you use the Dye stain first it will not sand off.
  • Work the Wood Stain into the grain.
  • The longer you let it dry, the easier it will be to sand off.
  • Apply a second coat of Dye Stain for a deeper color.