Painted Whiskey Barrels – Refinishing Tips and Decor Ideas

painting whiskey barrels

For centuries, oak barrels have been used to store and ferment wine, whiskey, and beer.

But did you know there are plenty of other ways to use them?

Designers, interior trendsetters, and everyday people are reusing old wine barrels for a variety of stylish purposes in homes.

If you have some old barrels already lying and gathering dust in your storage house, you can keep the casks intact or reuse their wooden staves and metal hoops to create something new.

With a bit of patience and creative thinking, you can employ tons of genius ways to repurpose, finish and decorate your wooden barrel casks.

From tables and planters to ingeniously repurposed bars, bathtubs, and bar stools, wine barrels offer an unfussy, organic appeal that is attractive and sturdy.

Below are some refinishing and decor ideas to help you make the most of your old oak barrels.

How to Paint an Old Wine Barrel?

Before we figure out what to do with old wine barrels, we must prepare the surface.

Painting your whiskey barrel (for indoor or outdoor usage) will easily help it last more than ten years, so follow these easy steps for a creative take on the standard painting process…

Step 1- Prepare the Work Area

Before you begin, make sure to work in an open and well-ventilated space. This means asking someone for help moving the wine barrel outside.

Lay down a painter’s drop cloth or an old shower curtain (to catch any paint drips), and put it under a roof cover. After you coat it, the whiskey barrel must dry without being disturbed for several days.

Step 2- Prepare the Wine Barrel for Painting

Wear goggles and gloves before you start with this step.

To prepare the whiskey barrel for painting, check that the barrel hoops are secure by screwing them onto wooden staves. If they have rust, clean them with a wire brush before attaching them.

A thorough sanding of the wooden barrel (using 150 grit sandpaper) will also be required to remove any dirt, debris, and splinters to help you get a smooth, even finish once you start painting it.

Finally, drill several holes in the bottom of the bourbon barrel for drainage using a 1-inch wood drill spade following an X-shape pattern. This is required if you plan to use them outdoors in your garden for planters.

Step 3- Prime the Whiskey Barrel

Using a high-quality nylon/polyester paintbrush, apply the KILZ 2® ALL-PURPOSE primer to the metal barrel hoops, wood, and rims, ensuring it gets in between the metal and the wood, except for where it will sit on the bottom.

Apply a second coat of primer once the first has dried, and make sure there are no missed spots and overlaps.

Step 4- Paint the Repurposed Wine Barrel

I once used a rag to apply an uneven dark coat of oak stain on my old wooden barrel. The process was easy, and I loved the appearance.

If you do not like the stain finish, you can use good quality enamel paint with a chip- and fade-resistant finish. It should do the trick.

Remember, you’ll need at least two coats of paint applied using a brush or roller, letting each coat dry before you start with the next.

Step 5- Sealing and Decorating the Painted Barrel

Once painted and dried, add a few coats of waterproof sealers, like boiled linseed oil, to protect your whiskey barrel from the elements.

You could also add decorations and other features to your repurposed wine barrel if you wish to.

  • Use wood-burning pens to add intricate designs and symbols
  • Hang shelves inside it and use it as a bookshelf, or
  • Add some LED lights for an exciting decor item

For a unique twist, you could even paint the whiskey barrel hoops a different color than the rest of the barrel. The possibilities are endless, so go ahead and let your creative juices flow.

DIY Whiskey Barrel Projects – Things You Can Make with Old Barrels?

If you are wondering what to do with your old wine barrels to give them a new life, you would be glad to know that they can be used for various decor purposes in your home or office.

Here are some of the most exciting ones I could find online…

1- Repurposed Wine Barrel Bar

You can keep your wine bottles organized, displayed, and right at arm’s reach by using your repurposed wine barrel this way.

This stylish piece, when made carefully, can hold up to 25 bottles of your best wines, glasses, and other wine accessories.

The shape easily fits into any kitchen or cellar corner, making it the perfect way to serve guests your favorite blend without searching through a crowded fridge.

2- Wine Barrel Pet Bed

If you’re looking for a unique pet bed that will make your furry friends feel extra cozy, look no further than a rustic wine barrel pet bed design.

This creative design is to fit pets of all sizes and helps to protect them from drafts and outdoor elements.

The best part about this pet bed is that it can easily be customized in a DIY way with some paint and other decorations to match your home’s decor.

3- Wine Barrel Planter with Lantern

This half-wooden barrel design is an excellent way by which you can add country charm to your garden or porch area.

The unique style will add a sweet cottage-style lantern to create a warm and welcoming display that’s perfect for your home outdoors.

4- Stunning Garden Containers

As soon as you see colorful flowers blooming, you know that spring has arrived. If you’re passionate about container gardening, this idea may give you some inspiration for your next project.

Use lovely half-wooden barrels as garden containers to keep your tools or beautiful plants, veggies, or herbs.

5- Cottage Style Repurposed Sink

This stylish, repurposed wooden sink is the perfect way to show off your upcycling skills and your taste in decor.

Using a wine barrel as the base, add porcelain, glass, or a metal sink to create a unique and eye-catching piece that’s one-of-a-kind.

6- Bourbon Barrel Vanity for Powder Room

This beautiful and unique vanity is for you if you want to give your powder room a makeover.

Here a solid oak barrel is crafted into an elegant vanity completed with a hammered copper sink and brushed widespread bronze faucet.

The front of the barrel features a large door accented with a bronze grape pull that reveals plenty of storage space and easy plumbing hook-up.

The vanity is hand-finished with three coats of durable furniture lacquer to last for years.

7- Vintage Wine Barrel Table with Heater

This heated wine barrel table with surrounding chairs will genuinely make your outdoor living space one of a kind.

The creative idea is made from an old wine barrel fitted with a gas-powered infrared heater and tabletop.

The entire construction is sealed to protect it from moisture so you can enjoy the warmth and comfort of a campfire without the smoke.

8- Reclaimed Whiskey Barrel Fire Pit

Most people who love partying on winter weekend evenings will agree that open flame is perfect for drinks, romantic conversations, or making s’mores in the backyard.

This wine barrel fire pit (made from a reclaimed whiskey barrel) is for hosting friends and family throughout the winter and can be used as a stylish planter or cooler when it’s not in use.

9- Barbecue Grill with Whiskey Barrel Base

If you’re a barbecue enthusiast, this incredible whiskey barrel grill will make your outdoor cooking sessions even more special.

The design incorporates the classic look of a wine barrel with an efficient charcoal-burning system to bring out the best flavors in whatever you’re cooking.

This repurposed grill is the perfect combination of style and functionality, making it a must-have for any grill master.

10- Whiskey Barrel Smoker

For those passionate about BBQ, this whiskey barrel smoker is another excellent way to up your grilling game by bringing some extra flavor to your BBQ dishes and impressing your guests.

The design utilizes an old whiskey barrel as the base and is equipped with vents and thermometers to make it easy to control the temperature.

The smoker is simple to use but creates delicious smoked meat every single time.

11- DIY Light Up Barrel Decoration

Want to add some extra sparkle to your garden, backyard area, or front porch? This DIY light-up barrel decoration is an ideal designer piece for you.

Create an eye-catching display with a used whiskey barrel and some fairy lights. It’s an excellent piece for those special occasions like Christmas, Halloween, birthdays, anniversaries, etc., for brightening your space.

The Bottom line

Wine barrels have gone beyond their traditional purpose and are now becoming popular for DIY projects.

Whether you’re looking to create a unique coffee table, wine rack, or barbecue grill, you can choose from plenty of creative and inspiring ideas.

Let your creativity fly to turn some old oak barrels into beautiful, functional, and well-finished decor pieces for your home.

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