French Doors

I wanted antique french doors for the entrance to the den to set the aesthetic of the room. I felt the style would be more inviting than a traditional interior door, plus when propped open, the narrow dimensions of a French Door would ensure the cabinets were not obstructed. Unfortunately as we were still in retail lockdown in Ontario at this time I really couldn’t get out to any of the antique shops to look around and I wasn’t finding what I wanted in the right dimensions online. This got my creative juices flowing and I searched Pinterest for a solution. I learned of a technique for ageing wood using a solution called the Rusty Nail Wood stain.

You start by brushing hot black tea onto the wood. The tea is important because it draws out the tannins in the wood but you’ll notice that after you complete this first step there’s no discernible change in the colour of the wood. After it dries you brush on a solution made with vinegar and non-galvanized nails or steel wool. It’s the oxidization that occurs when the vinegar solution is added that will create the old, grey patina.

One distinct feature I wanted the doors to have was the look of mercury glass. I was able to create this look using metallic spray paint, vinegar and water.


  • French Doors
  • Benjamin Moore White Dove latex paint
  • Water
  • Container for mixing
  • 1 inch Brush
  • Clean, lint free, dry rags
  • Black Tea
  • Non-galvanized nails or steel wool
  • 1 1/2 cups of vinegar
  • Mason jar
  • Saran Wrap
  • Fusion Mineral Paint French Eggshell
  • Fusion Mineral Paint Ageing Furniture Wax
  • 1/2 inch brush
  • Dewalt Orbital Sander
  • Dremel 3000
  • Wire brush
  • Drill and wire brush head bit
  • Sand paper with various grits
  • Green painter’s tape
  • 4 cans Silver Spray Paint
  • 1 can Gold Spray Paint
  • white vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Sponge
  • Kraft paper
  • Green painter’s tape
  • Hinges

We found a great set of pine bi-fold doors with glass windows on Wayfair. The bi-fold doors arrived with the hinges on and attached so first we had to remove the hardware and separate them. I set them up on work tables then went to work “aging” them. I worked on one side at a time to allow for proper drying between steps. I whitewashed the doors in addition to the rusty nail wash as I wanted them to appear as they had been painted and faded over time. The first side I did the whitewash first and then reversed the order for side two. I don’t see a difference so not sure the order matters. We also had to add some height to the doors so we attached a piece of 2×4 and used the orbital sander to blend it in.

  1. Mix equal parts white paint with water.
  2. Apply a layer with a rag and let dry completely. This step is a personal choice how much you apply. It really depends on how opaque you want the paint to appear.
  3. Steep black tea for 5 minutes in hot water.
  4. Brush a generous layer of tea on all the wood areas using a 1” brush. Let dry for 24 hours.
  5. In a mason jar add 1 1/2 cups of white vinegar and either some steel wool or non galvanized nails.
  6. Cover the jar with Saran Wrap and poke a few small holes with a nail in the wrap. I’ve read some use a lid but others have wrote if you leave the mixture too long in a jar with a tight lid the the steel wool will cause the temperature of the vinegar to rise and the jar can go kaboom.
  7. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes to 48 hours. Up to you how dark you want it. All wood reacts differently so not sure it makes a big difference waiting more than 24 hours how the wood will turn out.
  8. Brush on the solution and let dry for 24 hours.
Whitewash and added wood to lengthen the doors.
Rusty Nail Solution applied. This is immediately after application.
After 24 hours dry time.

I then spent many hours beating the crap out of the wood with a wire brush, a dremel tool with various different attachments, and a drill with a wire brush attachment. The intention was to mar the wood-create nicks, grooves, and draw out the grain. Pictures really don’t do it justice-you have to feel to believe that these doors went from smooth, sanded unfinished pine to a textured grain.

Zoom in and you’ll see the grain in the knot.

I also added small amounts of Fusion Mineral Paint French Eggshell dry brushed in various places around the doors to make it appear the doors were once a different colour. I further enhanced the aged look with Fusion Mineral Paint Ageing Furniture Wax, applying it with a soft lint free cloth in some areas of the wood, concentrating on the crevices and deep grooves.

Once again, Fusion Mineral Paint to the rescue. I can’t praise this product line by Canadian company Homestead House Paint Co. enough.

So at this point I’m about a week into working on the doors and have to say having a lot of fun. The hardest part of the project was getting the plastic film off the windows. Mon Dieu. Once I finally got a groove going with it carefully using an utility knife I got them all off. Had a great audio book on in the background so that was a nice distraction from this tedious task.

For the mercury glass effect:

  1. Tape Kraft paper to the doors to prevent overspray from landing on the wood
  2. Clean the glass and dry with a lint free cloth. It’s important the the glass is both free of dust and streaks.
  3. Mix 1 cup of water and 1 cup of vinegar in a spray bottle. I used one that could be adjusted between a fine mist to larger droplets for variety.
  4. In a well ventilated area, spray the glass about 10” away in a sweeping motion using Rustoleum Mirror Effect Silver Spray Paint
  5. Immediately mist the panes of glass with the vinegar solution. Let dry for 10-15 minutes. Blot with a lint free cloth, then spray with silver again
  6. I repeated steps 4 and 5 four times using silver then did it one last time using Rustoleum Mirrored Effect Gold Spray Paint.
  7. Remove the tape and Kraft paper.
  8. Add hinges and install!
%d bloggers like this: