How to Create a Faux Wood Grain Finish

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06 Oct 2011

The rich patterns and colours of natural wood grain can be imitated, using a technique that dates back as far as Roman times and was especially popular in the late nineteenth century. Long revered as a technique used exclusively by skilled artisans, wood graining has made a comeback as new tools, such as the wood graining rocker have become available. Wood graining is suitable for any smooth surface. Try this painting technique on walls, doors, woodwork, furniture, or trunks.


For faux wood grain, a glaze of acrylic paint is applied over a base coat of sheen acrylic. The rocker side of a wood graining tool is dragged through the wet glaze as you rock it back and forth. Each time the tool is rocked, the oval-shaped markings characteristic of pine and other woods are simulated.

The final colour of the finish depends on the combined effect of the base coat and the glaze coat.

For a natural appearance of wood, a lighter base coat is used with a darker glaze. Suitable colours for the base coat include raw sienna, red oxide, burnt sienna, burnt umber, and beige tones.

For the glaze, colours include burnt umber, black, red oxide, and burnt sienna. Because of the wide range of wood stains commonly used on woodwork, it is not necessary to duplicate both the grain and the colour of any particular wood.


Become familiar with the techniques by practicing them on a large sheet of cardboard until you can achieve the look of wood. Test the finish before applying it to the actual project.

You will need:
Prominent Paints - Sheen - dark and light shades
Scumble glaze
Paint roller or paint brush (for base coat)
Wood grain rocker
Natural bristle brush, 7.5 or 10cm
High-gloss, water based sealer

Here's how:

1. Apply base coat in your desired colour, stroking in the desired direction for the wood grain. A paint roller may be used for large areas. Allow to dry.


2. Mix the wood-graining glaze (a 1:1 mixture of scumble glaze and paint). Apply an even coat of glaze over base coat to a small area at a time, stroking in desired direction for wood grain.

3. Slide wood graining rocker through wet glaze, rocking it slowly to create wood grain effect. Start at one corner, working in one continuous motion as you slide and rock the tool from one end to another. As you rock the tool, oval markings are created.

4. Repeat step 3 for subsequent rows, varying the space between oval markings; wipe excess glaze from tool as necessary For some rows, pull the comb or notched edge of the wood graining tool through glaze instead of using rocker; this varies the look by giving a simple, continuous wood grain.


5. Brush across surface before glaze is completely dry, using dry, soft, natural-bristle paintbrush, 7.5 to 10 cm wide; lightly brush in direction of wood grain, to soften the look. Wipe excess glaze from brush as necessary. Allow the glaze to dry. Apply clear finish or aerosol clear acrylic sealer, if desired.

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