How to Faux Paint Wood Grain

Updated February 21, 2017

Faux wood finishes have been growing in popularity, and if you're a little nervous before starting this project, you can always hire a professional to paint faux wood grain on your surfaces. But for the more adventurous, you may want to try painting your own faux wood grain. Although it can be an undertaking to paint an entire bed or wall to resemble wood grain, a smaller project like a bookshelf or table can take less than a week to complete. The steps below will help you master painting faux wood grain.

Mix a light brown low-lustre latex enamel paint in a paint tray. Ideally, the colour of the paint should match the decor of your house and resemble the colour of real wood.

Sand the surface you are planning to paint. The wood graining tool may not work properly if there are rough edges or patches on your surface. Wipe the surface with a clean, damp rag to remove any excess wood shavings before painting.

Paint the surface with a low-lustre latex enamel paint. Let the coat of paint dry for 24 hours.

Use a paintbrush to load gel stain onto the wood graining tool. Starting at one corner of the surface, slowly rock and glide down the length of the surface in a random motion. The graining tool will form wood grains and knots of varying sizes and shapes. Continue to work your way down the surface in straight columns.

Let the gel stain dry for 24 hours. Paint several coatings with a translucent polyurethane topcoat, letting each coat dry at least 24 hours.


Use a practice surface to perfect your faux wood graining skills. If you get tired of your faux wood grain, simply sand it or paint over it.


Sand and paint outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.

Things You'll Need

  • a wood-graining tool
  • sandpaper
  • clean, white rags
  • a low-lustre latex enamel paint in a light brown tone
  • paint tray
  • gel stain in a darker brown colour
  • a paintbrush
  • a translucent polyurethane topcoat
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