How to Create a Faux Wood Grain Paint Finish

How to Create a Faux Wood Grain Paint Finish

Many, many people can agree that wood grain is a gorgeous pattern on trim, doors, and other surfaces. Unfortunately, wood that has a good-looking pattern is often going to be considerably more expensive than other kinds of wood. In situations such as these, if you have a little bit of talent for painting and you have the patience to find the exact materials that you need, you can create a nice faux wood grain finish that you can apply to a much less expensive piece of wood. If done right, you will have the wood design that you have always wanted, while saving a fair amount of money. 

What Should You Have Beforehand? 

From picking out the colors you need to determine what type of wood grain you want to mimic, there are a few ways that you need to prepare yourself before you take on this project. First things first, you are going to have to decide what type of wood you are planning to imitate. Whether you want to replicate a vertical-grain wood, or you would rather put in the extra work for more distinctive patterns, is completely up to you. The more complex you get, the more you will want to test out the glaze on a piece of the wood to make sure you are getting the right color though. 

There are two parts to choosing the right color for the faux wood grain finish. You are going to want a thinned, low-sheen enamel paint in a lighter color for your base coat. Just how light you go depends on the species of wood you are imitating. The next thing you will want to think about is the glaze. The glaze should be heavy-bodied and oil-based. You can test out glazes by smearing it onto the base color paint samples to see if it reaches the desired wood color. 

Now that the two most important parts of this have been settled, you will want to collect the rest of the supplies to get the job done. You will want to pick up a satin varnish (polyurethane works too), sandpaper (either 220-grit or 320-grit wet-and-dry), a trim brush, and a flogger brush (or one with similar bristles). If you are going to be working with a more detailed grain, you will want to find steel graining combs and some inexpensive rags. 

Creating the Pattern

Once you figure out what you want to do, getting the pattern down is going to be relatively simple. You will want to apply the lighter base coat in the direction of the inexpensive wood’s grain to diminish any extra brush marks. Apply it as smoothly as possible and remember that two coats are always going to be better than one. Also remember to thin the paint out. Once this paint layer has dried, you should sand the paint with the sandpaper and water, using the 220-grit one for oil-based paints and the 320-grit wet-or-dry for latex paints. You should clean off the surface afterward. 

Next, you will want to brush the glaze onto the wood in long, smooth motions. The glaze will help to imitate the grain of higher-quality woods while also allowing the base coat to shine through. For simple grain patterns, you can press down on the bristles as you paint the board. You can alternate the pattern of the grain by moving the bristles around as you paint. Once the glaze has dried, you will want to apply the varnish with the grain of the wood. You generally only need one layer of varnish, although two layers sometimes works better for areas that get a lot of use. 

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