The fence in my utility area needed to replaced. It was so rotted that a strong wind could have taken it down, but I was hesitant to do it. I love the look of greyed, old, untreated wood, and I would lose that with its replacement. Also, a panel of it obscured the view of the yard from the street and I cringed at the prospect of its glaringly blonde wood distracting people from the plantings. Paint was an option; its disadvantage being under our intense high-altitude sun, you would have to repaint it in just 3 years. Stains would last longer, but you would still need to reapply the stain. Also, the UV blockers in stains tend to darken over time, and I wanted the wood to age to silver.
I found a solution in Bunny Guinness’ article in the Daily Telegraph. It involves soaking steel wood pads overnight in a diluted white vinegar solution. The resulting iron oxide solution patinizes the wood in a couple of minutes.
I was a bit skeptical about it, but you can’t argue with the results.
Unlike tinted stains, this won’t continue to grow darker. Wood that is silvered has just oxidized in exposure to the air, and this process just accelerates that a bit. The one thing that the solution doesn’t do is raise the scurf of the wood’s surface; that will have to come with time.
Addendum: Recipe of the magic solution that works for me: 1 gallon of tap water, 1 gallon white distilled vinegar (available at bulk wholesale warehouse stores everywhere), 2 small steel wool pads (available in packs from big-box home repair stores). Soak overnight in large bucket. The solution will be clear and unremarkable, but don’t loose faith. It works. Also, using distilled water in place of tap will result in a slightly darker patina.