/ / Easy Driftwood Paint Finish for Outdoor Furniture

Easy Driftwood Paint Finish for Outdoor Furniture

Are you looking at your porch swing and wondering how to update the paint color? Here is an easy-to-follow tutorial on how to create an outdoor driftwood gray finish!

In just a few steps, you can transform not only a painted porch swing, but any outdoor painted furniture to a coastal driftwood gray finish like you see in the Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware catalogs!

It’s any easy 3 layer paint process that will completely makeover your outdoor furniture. Of course I am “Porch Daydreamer” so I made over my porch swing 🙂

Outdoor Driftwood Paint Finish 

First, I must disclose that I can only say this paint finish is safe for a covered area like my front porch.

My best guess is this will work on more exposed furniture because the base layer is an exterior paint.

To keep my furniture clean, it’s hosed down 2 to 3 times per month and so far the porch swing finish is holding strong with regular use and upkeep!

In order to understand how to achieve this finish, I’ll detail the layers you will be applying.

This is a very different process than the driftwood indoor finish I’ve created and is definitely simpler!

The inspiration for this finish was a piece of natural driftwood that doesn’t have much of a grain pattern to it.

I wanted the finish to look like it rolled in with the waves of the ocean 🙂

Porch swing with white seat and driftwood gray faux finish with chain wrapped in rope

Layers of Paint
  1. Base Color
  2. Custom Color Wash
  3. Dry Brushed Antiquing Glaze

Each layer only took about 30 minutes, so not a lot of time to devote to get the driftwood gray finish! Just the dry time will slow down the process.

Here is what the porch swing looked like before the paint makeover. The black paint was faded after 8 years of use and starting to peel.

If you like the upholstered seat, it was an easy DIY upgrade. For the full tutorial, CLICK HERE.  

Porch swing in black before outdoor driftwood gray finish

The tan cushions on my sectional were a great guide on what color to choose for the base color, so I used that to select Valspar’s Ivory Brown. 

Post contains hand selected products, with some affiliate marketing links {full disclosure here} 

How-To Create the Outdoor Driftwood Gray Finish

Make sure you pick a time where it won’t rain for a couple of days.

There are overnight dry times in between coats and you don’t want the rain to ruin your hard work!

  1. Wooster Paint Brush
  2. Quart Valspar Duramax Exterior Paint in Ivory Brown 6006-1C / Satin Finish
  3. Water
  4. Rags – I find old cut up t-shirts are the best
  5. Find Grit Sanding Sponge
  6. Antiquing Glaze

Custom Color Wash Instructions

Step 1

If the old paint finish on the furniture or swing is peeling, sand over those areas to remove excess paint.

Wipe down with a damp rag to remove ALL sanding dust. 

Step 2

Apply base coat of paint. Because Duramax paint is SO thick (spans a 1/4 inch gap) I was able to apply only one coat!

If you need or want to apply 2 coats, allow the 1st coat to dry overnight before applying the 2nd coat.

In my situation, I had to mask off the upholstered seat with garbage bags. 

This is what the Ivory Brown base coat looked like, before the color wash. 

Base coat of valspar duramax in ivory brown

Step 3

Mix the antiquing glaze with water as shown below.

3 steps to create an antique wash for outdoor driftwood finish

Step 4

With your paint brush, layer on the custom color wash working in sections top to bottom and side to side.

Make sure to run the brush with the direction of the wood: horizontal and vertical. You can see my brush strokes below.

antiquing glaze applied over base paint before wiping off

Let the wash sit for about 5 minutes per section and RUB into the paint using your rag.

Work the paint into all of the crevices of the paint. You want to enhance the texture and brush strokes. 

wiping off antiquing glaze

Let the the wash dry overnight!

Antiquing Glaze Dry Brush Instructions

You will now become an artist! This is called a DRY BRUSH technique because you barely have paint on your brush.

I’d suggest first practicing on a piece of cardboard first, so you get the feel of it.

I’m sure you have cardboard around like I do from all of those Amazon Prime purchases!

Step 1

Fill the bottom of a wide mouthed bowl with antiquing glaze. DO NOT ADD WATER.

Dip just the tips of your brush into the glaze and blot on the sides of the bowl.

antiquing glaze in bowl

I’m going to show you a mid point in the process and what my brush looked like.

When I say very little glaze I mean it and your brush should fan out like this, from working the glaze back and forth on the wood.

dry brush technique

You can see I was blotting the brush every time I added glaze on the side of the bowl.

Step 2

Work your brush back and forth, back and forth in the direction of the wood: horizontal or vertical to create lines.

Keep working an area until there isn’t glaze coming off of the brush and you need to re-load it with glaze.

Try to avoid overlapping!

Antiquing glaze applied

I worked the horizontal sections first trying to avoid the vertical slats. Make sure you get ALL surfaces. 

I did overlap on edges and left it because I liked the look!

If you overlap and it creates too dark of a finish, luckily glaze is forgiving and you can wipe it off with a damp paper towel before it dries.

Here is a close up of the final driftwood gray finish!


Before adding pillows or cushions, wait for it to dry overnight so the finish is as hard as possible!

You can see I couldn’t get into the hole where the chain is, but it doesn’t hurt the overall effect.

Mick and close up of driftwood gray finish on swing and mick the maltese

Finishing Touch Rope Wrapped Chain

If you’ve made over the porch swing to driftwood gray, then you may want to create the total coastal effect by wrapping the chain in rope.

Of course I have a full tutorial on that as well, CLICK HERE. 

Now you may be wondering “Can I use this same technique on an indoor piece of furniture?”

OF COURSE! Just use the same base color in a satin interior paint. 

Mick sitting on Driftwood Gray Swing Front Porch

Shop the Porch

Mick Enjoying the Swing on the Front Porch

Mick and I sure do love it out here and the driftwood gray finished porch swing makes it feel like we are at the beach!

I think he’s pretending to be one of the pillows so I don’t move him 🙂

Pin It for Later!

How to create outdoor safe driftwood gray faux finish for porch swing or outdoor furniture

For the full makeover story of my porch, CLICK HERE. 

This front porch makeover was truly about capturing that sand in your toes feeling that feels like you are on vacation!

As my FREE GIFT to you, with email sign-up a detailed paint sheen project guide! 

You will know the right sheen for every project…


Please consider following me on Pinterest and Instagram for daily inspiration.

Until next time…

Porch Daydreamer


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  1. I love this tutorial. Decided to try to use this on my interior entryway table. I started with a primer since the table was older and black. Then used a sample color of paint from Lowe’s. (wondering if that’s my downfall). Let each one dry overnight. Now I’m starting the color wash today. I put on for five minutes and went to wipe it away and all my base color paint wiped off. 🙁 I’m so bummed. Any ideas what I could do to salvage this? Thanks.

    1. Yes, samples are usually not as high quality as a regular quart of paint and lower sheen. I’d lightly sand everything and clean off ALL dust. Then invest in the Valspar Cabinet/Furniture Enamel in semi-gloss. That will dry to a harder finish (you must wait overnight for it to dry). Then the glazing/color wash will go on more easily without taking off the base coat of paint.

  2. This post came just on time! We recently moved and have a open cover porch in the back and I have been thinking of installing a porch swing for my grandkids. That is exactly the color I have in mind thanks for the tutorial! I’m glad for you and your mom your dad is stable and you guy’s are able to FaceTime with him. Wishing him a speedy recovery!

  3. The swing looks beautiful! I have a pine bedroom set that has turned orange over the last 18 years and I’d like to try this technique. Do you think it would work and what product do you suggest I used to prep the wood to hide the knots?

    Thanks so much for all your inspiring tutorials! 🙂

  4. Hi, I love the look of the porch swing, did you use a sealer? Also, would this work on an inside dining table?
    Thanks, Linda

  5. Thank you for such a detailed guide; some of the videos on YouTube are maddening with plenty of the “I love me some me” lead-ins followed by “moments” spent on the actual project with few, if any specifics.

    Many, many thanks for your excellent presentation!

    1. Mike, SO glad to hear that! YES, I so agree after trying to find painting tutorials on YouTube – even about chalk paint. Maddening. So I stared at some real driftwood and made up a faux finish 🙂 Then recorded my process just in case it turned out and it did!

      1. I’m not exactly doing the Sistine Chapel, just a few old corbels for a shelf but wish me well and give that dog a treat…

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