Ever wanted to find paint that looks like wood? Here are six easy steps to create a paint that looks like wood. Transform poly resin or styrofoam or plastic.

Want to learn how to paint anything to look like wood? Find out with these simple painting techniques, tools, and more to get a finish that looks like wood on any surface by following this handy painting guide.

paint that looks like wood


how to create paint that looks like wood

Did you know that you can make a surface look like wood?Seriously. You can transform almost anything.

Maybe not your kitchen sink.

Or the Eiffel Tower.

But you know when you shop the scratch and dent aisle of Hobby Lobby and everything is marked 80% off and you find all those random pieces of plaster and poly resin and plastic and some material that they make from moon rock with a $3.97 price tag and it would fit perfectly onto your mantel or your bookshelf or your dining room hutch….

….if only it looked like an antique.

Now it can.

What if you used paint that looks like wood?

All you need is a technique.

And a few tips.

Here’s how to create paint that looks like wood


This is the piece that I created for the red office I designed last month for Sherwin-Williams.I want to walk you through exactly how I transformed it to look like wood. But first? Here are the most commonly asked questions about this paint technique:How do you make acrylic paint look like wood?Creating a wood-like effect with acrylic paint can be achieved through a technique called faux wood painting. Here’s how you can do it:Apply thin layers of acrylic paint using a dry brush technique. Use a mix of colors to create depth and variation, such as different shades of browns and hints of red or yellow. Start with lighter colors as the base and gradually build up darker tones. Blend the colors together using a dry brush or a soft cloth to create a smooth transition between the grain lines. Add shading and highlights with lighter and darker shades of paint to enhance the realism.Is there a paint that mimics wood?Yes, there are paints specifically designed to mimic the appearance of wood. These paints are often referred to as wood grain or faux wood paints. They are formulated with special additives and pigments that replicate the natural look and texture of wood. These paints come in various shades and can be applied to a variety of surfaces, including furniture, trim, and even walls.Can paint actually look like wood?Yes, with the right techniques and materials, paint can indeed replicate the look of wood. By employing methods like faux wood painting, you can create convincing wood-like effects using paint. The key is to pay attention to the details of wood grain, color variation, and shading to achieve a realistic result. While it may not be an exact replica, the painted surface can closely resemble the appearance of wood, allowing you to achieve a wood aesthetic without the need for actual wood.What tools do you need to create a paint finish that looks like wood?To create a paint finish that resembles wood, you will need the following tools:

  1. Paintbrushes: Various sizes of paintbrushes, including a small fine-tipped brush for creating grain details.
  2. Dry brush: This is a technique that involves removing most of the paint from the brush before applying it to the surface. It helps create a textured effect and mimic the grain of wood.
  3. Toothpick: A toothpick can be useful for drawing fine lines and intricate grain patterns.
  4. Palette or paint tray: Use a palette or paint tray to mix and blend different shades of paint to achieve the desired wood color.
  5. Soft cloth or sponge: These can be used for blending and shading the paint to create a smoother transition between colors.
  6. Clear varnish: Once the paint is dry, applying a clear varnish will protect the surface and provide a glossy or satin finish.

What is brown paint that looks like wood?

You can use different acrylic paint for this project. I really like Burnt Sienna, Light Tan and Ochre. Another paint color that looks like wood is Umber. You want to make sure you have a mixture of darker colors and lighter colors to create highlights and lowlights on the project.

How to hand paint wood grain?

This is so much easier than it looks. You can add wood grain to this project if you want to layer in a 3-D effect on the piece.

  1. Get a brush with a thin tip.
  2. Choose brown several shades darker than your foundation brown.
  3. Lightly apply streaks with the thin brush that mimics the wood grain.
  4. Layer in heavier lines and lighter lines.
  5. Let dry and seal.

You can also use a tool to create faux grain as well as I did with this project.

How to paint over faux wood?

Can you paint over faux wood?


Yes, you can. You can create paint that looks like wood. You just need a really good primer and some additional cure time. If you want to paint over faux wood, sand lightly, then simply apply a high-quality primer according to the manufacturer’s directions. Next, paint a couple of coats of paint and let cure for 2 weeks before using it.

How to paint a wall to look like wood grain?

You can paint a wall to look like wood–it just takes time and patience to make paint that looks like wood.

  1. Tape off the wall in a wood pattern with mini grout line tape.
  2. Paint your walls a solid color.
  3. Pull off the tape to reveal the spaces between the wood.
  4. Next, using a wood graining tool, add grain to the “faux planks” on the wall that you’ve taped off.
  5. Let dry and seal if necessary.

How to make plastic look like wood?

Wondering how to how to make plastic look like wood? It’s so much easier than you think. You can use this same technique on plastic.

However, you need to prime the plastic first. Spray Kilz works really well to prime plastic for with paint that looks like wood.

And now for the project. These pieces came from the discount aisle and when I found them they looked nothing like this.

How to Paint Anything to Look Like Wood


paint brushes

paint (at least four different colors of brown)

scratch and dent piece

paint that looks like wood before picture


Step 1:  Prime piece

You want to start with a clean slate and cover up and scratches and dents and odd color combinations that are found on the clearance aisle.

Start fresh with a layer of primer.

Let dry.

paint that looks like wood steps in process


Step 2:  Add the first layer of paint

For this project, I chose four different colors of brown.  I chose dark brown, honey brown, medium brown and light brown.

To start….I painted the darkest brown any place that would have natural shadows.

That makes sense….right?

If this was real wood….the indentations would look darkest.

Let dry.

I know this seems simple….but the whole drying step is super important.  You don’t want all your paint colors running together and looking like mud instead of wood.


Step 3:  Add next layer

For this layer I lightly brushed the honey brown.

Adding a honey color is so important because it warms up your piece and really creates the illusion of wood.

Lightly brush over entire piece (but not down into the indentations).

Let dry.


Step 4:  Add next layer

This is where it starts getting exciting.

You can actually see it transforming to wood right before your eyes.

Brush your layer of medium brown lightly over the entire piece.  You want to let the other two colors show through and not cover up completely what you’ve already painted.

Remember….less is more with this layer.

Let dry.


Step 5:  Add highlights

Now you want to come in with your lightest brown and lightly brush over the entire piece to create highlights.

You may also want to add some other colors of brown here and there as needed to make sure all the colors are blended.

Let dry.



Step 6:  Seal your piece with paint that looks like wood

After all your lowlights and highlights are painted.

Let it dry and then seal with a water-based protective finish.


That’s it.

Six easy steps to transform almost anything to look like it belongs in a Pilgrim’s house.

Styrofoam has never looked so good.

Tell your kitchen sink not to be jealous. 🙂

PS Here’s a little more painting inspiration.

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  1. Image for Regina Regina

    You know . . . I never did actually MAKE it to Hobby Lobby the other day . . . ;) I have passed over SO MANY of those super-cheap, scratch-n-dent items! I'll look more closely next time! Thanks for the great ideas!! Happy summery day!!

  2. Image for Amber Amber

    This is an amazing tutorial! You always manage to blow my mind with every tutorial! I never look at anything the same way now! Always looking how I could change that to incorporate it, or gift it! Thank you!

  3. Image for Sheila Sheila

    I need to find the scratch and dent section asap! Your wall art looks great! And those brushes? Where to find them? Sheila

    1. Image for Thistle Thistle

      Mary, So sorry! I should have listed the paint in the post! I used Folkart acrylic paints and here's the colors: Cinnamon Honeycomb Raw Sienna Coffee Bean Hope this helps! karianne

  4. Image for Mel Mel

    Thank you for sharing your inspired pieces, absolutely lovely! Just curious....on the original square accent pieces, did you base coat them in black or, do a dark antique finish? I think that I see a darker undertone than your darkest paint listed above.

  5. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    How much fun!! You don't have to be precise -- which I'm not- and you can get creatively messy. Wow that is a plus. The Pilgrims should be jealous as well as your far removed ancestors -- they never had anything that looked that good. Well done my genius friend.

  6. Image for Deb Deb

    I am AMAZED! This is go great I really love how it looks. I actually thought about doing a technique like this to a piece of furniture, and I think I may have to actually try that out eventually. Thanks for the tips!

  7. Image for Ally Ally

    So we've painted every piece of wood we can get our hands on white or robins egg blue. Now we are turning it all back into wood. I feel like breaking out my Rachel haircut. Good to see your log again. Also your blog.

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