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How to Paint anything to make it Look like Wood

White paint on a faux wooden board

Real wood furniture looks great with the marbled wood veins running through it. But the truth is, it’s just too expensive and people these days end up gravitating towards other materials, such as fiber boards and drywall. You’re probably familiar with these materials since they’re used by giant retailers, such as IKEA. That’s what makes their stuff so affordable and lightweight.

However, even if you have a boring old table with no carvings, no wood marbling or anything, you can spruce it up and make it look like a million bucks by painting it to look like wood. You can choose your own shade and the type of marbling you want. With a little bit of latex paint finished off with an acrylic coat, you can get that real wood look in whichever room you want.

The Steps to Obtain Paint that Looks Like Wood

We’ll walk you through the basics of painting any surface to obtain the real wood effect:

Step 1: Prep Your Work Space

For this step, you will need: some painter’s tape, old newspapers and a screwdriver kit.

Cover all the area surrounding your object with painter’s tape. Remove any knobs, hinges and other such accessories with the help of a screwdriver to avoid getting any paint on them. Before you get started, spread some newspaper on the floor to protect it from paint splatters and any dust created during the sanding stage.

Step 2: Sanding the Work Surface

For this step, you will need: a sanding block, sandpaper (fine or medium) and a dry cloth.

Even if you’re working with an already complete surface (such as a chair you bought from IKEA), sand it with a sanding block to smooth out any odd fibers sticking out or to smooth out unnecessary bumps. For a surface that is already smooth, use fine grit sandpaper. For a rougher surface, you’ll need something courser like medium grit sandpaper.

Once you’re done, dust off any debris with a dry cloth.

Step 3: Prepping the Surface with Primer

For this step, you will need: primer, a bristle brush and a paint roller.

You’ll need to get the right primer for the surface you’re working on. For materials like MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard), you’ll need an oil-based primer since water can cause it to swell and distort the surface. Apply an even coat all over the surface and let it dry.

For materials like drywall, apply an even coat of latex primer (can be done with the help of a paint roller) and let it dry.

Step 4: Applying the Base Coat

For this step, you will need: latex paint and a brush or roller to apply it.

This is where the transformation towards the wood look begins. Choose latex paint in the shade you want your finished surface to look like. For instance, if you want a mahogany finish, choose a dark red or coral shade. Paint over the entire surface and let it dry completely. Once it’s dry, repeat the process again.

Step 5: Getting the Right Shade of Wood

For this step, you will need: latex paint, acrylic glaze, a paint mixing jar, a bristle brush or a roller.

In a jar, combine the latex paint (which should be slightly darker than the basecoat) and the acrylic glaze and shake until the acrylic is completely tinted. Don’t add too much of the latex paint since you want to be able to see the base coat, even after the glaze has been applied.

Apply a thin layer of glaze evenly across your entire work surface.

Step 6: Creating the Marbled Effect

For this step, you will need: a wood grain rocker. This handy tool helps you create a wooden texture on a smooth surface. You may also need a graining comb.

Before you start on the actual surface, get a small piece of cardboard, apply a layer of glaze on it and practice your technique with the wood rocker. When the cardboard looks like it’s just been sliced off a tree, you’re ready to go.

Drag the rocker through the glaze, rocking the head of the tool up and down as you move along. To change the direction of the marbling, flip the rocker and drag it along the opposite side.

If you want that real wooden texture, pull a graining comb through the glaze. You can either go straight or tilt it at angle depending on the type of look you’re going for. This will give your surface a more “natural” look.

Once you’re done with one part of the surface, clean off any glaze remnants from your tools before starting on another area. If you make a mistake, don’t freak out. Apply another layer of glaze and repeat the process.

Once you’ve completed your project, let the glaze dry completely.

Brown Wooden Dresser

Step 7: Adding the Finishing Touches

If you removed any knobs, etc., during the process, return them to their original place. Place your masterpiece where you intended to keep it and get your whole family to admire your handy work.

If you have the strength and the interest, you can transform entire rooms in your house with this simple technique. Who knew that a little bit of paint can end up looking like wood!?

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