How to paint anything to look like wood. Here are six easy steps to create paint that looks like wood. Transform poly resin or styrofoam or plastic.
This is a tutorial on how to paint anything to look like wood.
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 you can make any surface look just like wood.
This is the piece that I created for the red office I designed last month for Sherwin-Williams.
These pieces came from the discount aisle….
….and when I found them they looked nothing like this.
The squares above are styrofoam.
I know, right? You thought my great, great, great, great, great grandfather brought them over on the Mayflower. I wish I could show you what they look like before, but I was too busy painting everything in sight red…..
….and I forgot to take before pictures.
So today I’m using the same technique I used on this styrofoam.
Before we get started, here are a few questions that people asked me along the way:
Q: What are brown paint colors that look 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.
Q: 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.
- Get a brush with a thin tip.
- Choose brown several shades darker than your foundation brown.
- Lightly apply streaks with the thin brush that mimics the wood grain.
- Layer in heavier lines and lighter lines.
- Let dry and seal.
You can also use a tool to create faux grain as well as I did with this project.
Q: How to paint over faux wood?
Can you paint over faux wood? Yes. 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 manufacturer’s directions. Next, paint a couple of coats of paint and let cure for 2 weeks before using it.
Q: 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.
- Tape off the wall in a wood pattern with mini grout line tape.
- Paint your walls a solid color.
- Pull off the tape to reveal the spaces between the wood.
- Next, using a wood graining tool, add grain to the “faux planks” on the wall that you’ve taped off.
- Let dry and seal if necessary.
Q: 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 painting.
How to Paint Anything to Look Like Wood
paint (at least four different colors of brown)
scratch and dent piece
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Step 6: Seal piece
After all your lowlights and highlights are painted.
Let it dry and then seal with a water-based protective finish.
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.