Today we are talking about how to paint a DIY faux bois table.
It and its good friend trompe l’oeil are words I like to work into conversation whenever possible to sound like I wear berets and just flew in from the south of France.
It means “false wood” or a surface that looks like its grained wood, but it’s really something else.
Super fancy, right?
That’s how we roll here at Thistlewood.
But before we go all faux bois….
….can I ask you a question?
If you are French or visited France as an exchange student or read French home decor magazines or stopped by a french thrift store on the way to the Eiffel Tower…
…or simply like baguettes.
Can you tell me what these are?
My sister picked them up for me in Paris.
They are tiny black and white numbers on loops of string with different words under each number.
She said they looked like me and she was right. I love them. I have about fivfillion projects planned for them, but I have no idea what they were used for.
Inquiring minds want to know.
Just in case I want to drop them into conversation, too.
And now back to our regularly scheduled faux bois conversation. This is a faux bois table top project I created last year for FrogTape for their look book.
Here’s the finished table set up in my office posing as a desk.
See how the top looks like wood?
Here’s a closer look.
You can see the graining and the wood knots on the top.
Faux. Faux. Faux.
The table actually started life like this.
It looks fine right now, but actually the table top is pretty dented and has chips out of the top from one too many hot glue projects.
This project is perfect for a piece of furniture with a flat surface that needs a little love.
I started by sanding down all the rough parts of the surface.
Then I painted the table with one coat of SW Mindful Gray.
The best gray known to mankind.
One day archaeologists will be talking about this paint color in museums somewhere.
After it dried, I added a layer of watered down umber paint.
I simply brushed it on with cross strokes. You can see the cross-hatch pattern in the table top.
This was to add a layer of dimension before I faux boised the top.
To create the faux bois look….this is the tool you need.
You can buy them at paint stores (I bought mine at Sherwin-Williams) or you can get them at some craft stores, too.
They usually come in a kit with three pieces–a larger piece, a small piece and a comb.
For this project we used the larger piece to create the grain, the smaller piece for the wood knots and the comb for texture.
Here’s a close up of the graining process.
You’ll want to choose a darker color than your surface. This color is called SW Black Fox. I went with gray for this project, but you could create the same look with more neutral colors, like SW Alabaster and SW Universal Khaki or more tan/gold colors like SW Ivoire and SW Macademia.
The key is using a lighter color underneath and a darker color on top.
You’ll mix the darker (grain) paint with a glaze and water. The ratio should be 1 part paint to 1 part glaze. Your mixture will be thinner than regular paint. The glaze allows the paint to be moved around and prolongs the drying time.
To create the grain, simply paint on a strip of paint on the table top and drag the tool through the glaze. You might want to practice on a flat surface, but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy to manipulate.
Repeat the process until you have covered the entire table top with faux graining.
I just kept experimenting with the tool until I got a look I liked.
I started with the larger tool and dragged it across the surface to create the large grain.
Then, I went back and adding in knots with the smaller tool.
Lastly, I dragged the comb across parts of the “grain” to make it look more like wood.
The glaze is so flexible that if you create a “grain” you don’t like, you can wipe it off and start again.
It’s a fun project that you can paint for under $50 in an afternoon.
You should try it.
It’s really so much easier than it looks.
….everyone likes to work a little “faux bois” into conversation. 🙂