50 Shades of Grey: Let's Talk Grey Tints

Staining, Fuming, or Painting My Dining Table Grey: Quite often a potential client contacts us about a dining table with a grey tint or a grey undertone. Sometimes they ask for a “weathered” look that involves grey. There are really three main categories for greying wood.





The first is fuming. Fuming is a simple process whereby an ammonia solution is gently applied to the surface of the wood. The solution reacts with the tannins in the wood and brings out a grey tone, which if overapplied can even look grey-blue. This process reacts differently with different wood species. It works best with white and red oak by far. If a clear poly, oil, or lacquer spray finish goes over the fumed wood, it will darken the wood and bring it back to a brown. The uniform grey color is more or less gone. That being said, the depth of the final color is incredible. In different lights the grey can be seen and it really layers the color in a way that layering stains just can’t do.


The second option is a grey stain or oil. In this case, you are essentially tinting the wood with a stain no differently that you would in any other color. A grey stain, like a Minwax stain (of which there are probably ten or more different tones of grey) will show up best on a lighter wood like ash or maple. Even on oak, it can be diluted or overwhelmed by the tan color of the oak. If you layer another color over it, the grey will be all but lost. If you add a clear topcoat, the grey will remain but will become without a doubt warmer. Grey furniture oils, like the grey oils produced by Rubio Monocoat, are a nice solution as they are a tint and topcoat in one. These two-in-one finishes are your best best. 


The third option is grey paint, and then light sanding for a weathered or reclaimed look. This is a totally different look, that is still quite popular, especially on non-dining surfaces. This is sometimes what people think of when they think of weathered look. The problem with using actual old shiplap of siding is that it’s very uneven and flaky. Unless you’re cladding something, it’s not exactly the most useful for dining surfaces. 

All of these options will get you a unique finished product. At Cannon Hill Woodworking, we realized that certain words mean different things to different people. If you want a weathered grey dining table or furniture piece, we are happy to make you samples after seeing some photographs of what you are trying to achieve. Give us a call at 857-576-2089 or email us at info@cannonhillwood.com.