How to Create a Faux Wood Grain Paint Finish


Wood grain looks great in any home, from side tables, work desks, to accent walls. Unfortunately, unless you’re an experienced carpenter, these home furnishings are usually pretty expensive.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the appearance of wood grain in your home though. With this technique, you’ll be able to create a faux wood grain finish on just about anything, using only paint and some extra tools.

What You’re Going to Need

To create a faux wood grain finish, you’re going to need a paint tray, paint roller, latex paint in three different wood shades, three natural fiber brushes, painter’s tape, and a wood-graining tool.

Start by Priming the Surface

Begin your faux wood grain finish by priming the surface you intend to paint and then adding a base coat of paint. The color of the base coat should be light enough to create contrast with the darker wood grain patterns that you’re going to add later on.

Apply Painter’s Tape 

When your base coat has completely dried, it’s time to apply painter’s tape. This step will make the difference between a realistic look and a sloppy paint job.

If you’re painting a door, for example, apply painter’s tape along the seams to create a clean and realistic wood grain look. Ensure that the tape is pushed down completely so that the paint doesn’t bleed underneath.

You’ll have to wait until each segment is dry before moving onto the next, but the end result is definitely worth a little bit of patience.

Begin Creating the Direction of the Wood Grain

Creating the direction of the wood grain is simple. Take one of your natural fiber brushes and paint using long, straight brush strokes, keeping the layer of paint fairly thin.

In this step, you want to use a darker shade of wood color, but save your darkest wood color for the next step.

Use a Wood-Graining Tool

The wood-graining tool is an essential part of this method for creating a faux wood grain finish. You can find one online or at your local hardware or paint supply store.

Using the wood-graining tool is simple, but requires a steady hand and some careful attention.

Since the wood-graining tool is what actually creates the wood grain look, you should use your darkest wood color as it will contrast the most with the others, making the wood grain appearance more prominent.

First, apply a light coat of your darkest wood color over top of the previous one and in the same direction.

Now simply run the tool over the surface of the wet paint steadily and in a straight line, rocking the tool along the way to create the appearance of natural knots. If an area looks too dark, run a dry brush over it to pick up some of the excess paint.

Continue repeating this, using different sides of the tool to create different effects until you’re finished with the taped-off section.

Apply a Clear Coat

When all sections of your project piece have been painted to look like wood grain and completely dried, you can take it a step further by applying a clear coat. This will give your faux wood grain a real finished look that will impress!

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