Building a Curtain Board – Aging Wood with Tea & Iron

If you’re like me, you are probably wondering, “What the heck is a curtain board?” Those were my exact thoughts a few weeks ago. Now, it’s one of my favorite things in the living room!

A couple of months ago we had a big mishap at our house. If you caught a post I did a while back, you saw how I painted drop cloth curtains for my living room. They came out really great. I had hung them using traditional curtain rods. They were only up a few months when my daughter (accidentally) sat on the edge of them and pulled entire thing right out of the wall. Everything came crashing down leaving behind a couple of nice holes in my wall. We had a good laugh (no one was hurt)!

So began the hunt for a new and improved way to hang the curtains. I wanted something more permanent (now knowing our ability to hit studs on this wall was near impossible). Something with a ton more character. I knew when I saw it, I would know it. That’s when I discovered curtain boards!

curtain board

This project started with the purchase of 1×6″ boards at Home Depot. I got lucky in the 12 foot board fit exactly as I wanted it to on our big window. Then the 8 foot board fit perfectly in our dining room (curtain project still pending). I also purchased eyelets to screw into the board so I could hang the curtains.

The next big decision was around what to do with the wood. I didn’t just want a pine board hanging on the wall. I always love darker wood, and wanted something that looked a little more aged and rustic. That’s when I came across a recipe to age wood using tea and an iron solution. The results I had seen online looked amazing so I figured I’d give it a shot.


aging wood

The aging process itself was spread out over a 2-day period for me. However, it doesn’t have to be. You at least need 24-hours for the iron solution to be created. The longer that solution goes, the darker your finish will be. After 2-days, mine was really dark! Here’s the process I went through to create the solutions and age the boards.

Aging Wood with Tea & an Iron Solution

1 pad of 0000 steel wool (it will state this on the package – not the same thing you use to scrub dishes)

3 cups vinegar

3 family-size standard-brew tea bags

1 1/2 cups water

Sand paper (depending on the condition of your wood)

2 new paint brushes (quality doesn’t matter)

The first step in the process is to create the iron solution. You will want to use a jar or large glass container (I used a vase). Pour the vinegar into the container. Drop the steel wool into the vinegar. I stirred mine up using a wooden skewer.

***This will cause a chemical reaction! Make sure you leave this in a well ventilated area. Also, do not put a lid onto the jar or container without a couple of holes in the lid to allow for proper ventilation of the gas that is released.

I put my container on the back patio. After the first day, I wasn’t sure it was going to be ready. Not much of the steel wool had broken down and the solution was still pretty clear. I wasn’t sure what to expect. In hind site, I should have stirred it up to tell for sure. I let mine go a second day before stirring. When I did stir, it turned a really rich brown color. So I pulled the remaining steel wool out using my skewer and called it done.

curtain board

The first step in this aging process is to prepare your wood. Now I’m a no fuss, less prep work is more kinda gal. The boards I had were brand new (not pressure treated). They had never been painted, stained, or treated so I figured they probably didn’t require very much preparation. I literally took my hand sander and ran it over each side (front and sides that would show). I spent less than a minute on this process and moved on.

The next step was to mix the tea solution. Just boil the water in a small pan with the tea bags in it. Let it steep and get really dark. Turn it off and let it cool. Once it is cool, squeeze as much water out of the tea bags as possible. Then pour the solution into a jar or container you can “paint” from.

Applying the Solution to Wood

I “painted” my boards outside in the yard. I simply propped them up with a couple of boxes. The photos below will show how the boards reacted to each solution. They went from standard, light pine boards to dark, almost dirty looking boards.

Step 1 – Using a paint brush, generously apply the tea solution to the board. Simply “paint” it on. Don’t worry about making sure it is even. Just cover each board completely on the sides that will show. You will have grainy remnants of tea left behind. I just let them be. The tea solution didn’t do a much to the overall appearance of the wood.



Let your wood completely dry before moving onto the next step. It didn’t take long in the sun. I applied a second coat of the tea solution before moving onto the next step.

Step 2 – Apply the iron solution. I used the exact same method for this one. Using a clean paint brush, simply “paint” it onto the board. Cover all surfaces that will be showing after it is hung (front & sides). Several seconds after you begin to apply it, the board will begin to change colors. The solution reacts with the tannin in the wood and darkens it. You will easily be able to tell if you have missed any sections.


Once it is on, let it dry completely in the sun. Again, it didn’t take long at all.

Step 3 – Optional – I spray painted my eyelets on each side. I was only able to find them in silver and gold. The color I painted them was gray/black. I wanted it to blend in more with the color of the wood.

Step 4 – Take an old rag and wipe down the board. You will see the color change slightly as a lot of dust is removed. This will reveal the final color of your boards. Mine looked a little more gray and slightly lighter. I loved them!

Step 5 – Determine where you want your eyelets. First, you need to know how many curtain hooks you will have on each side. You will need 1 eyelet per hook. Then you need to figure out where on the board they will be placed. I decided to put mine about an inch up from the bottom of the board.

I had 12 hooks on each side to get the curtain to hang the way I wanted. I knew this because of how many it took when I originally hung it on a curtain rod. So to place the eyelets I measured up 1 inch from the bottom and laid my tape measure out. I started at the 1 inch mark and made X’s at 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, etc. until I had 12 X’s. Then I moved to the other side of the board and repeated.

To insert the eye hooks I took a push pin and stuck it into the board. This gave me a starting hole that I could then screw the eyelet into. You can use a nail as well.


Step 6 – Hang it! You will want to find your studs. This was our issue before. We weren’t able to get our curtain rod into any studs…so it didn’t stay up when a little pressure was applied. Use screws (I used 2 inch wood screws) to hang it on the wall. Dark color screws blend in nicely with the wood. You can also paint or cover them up if needed.

This was a really easy project. Hanging the curtains back up felt like a huge accomplishment! The curtain board adds some color and interest to the room. It looks great.


What do you think? Had you heard of a curtain board before?


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