How to create faux burl

Written by karen curinga
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How to create faux burl
The stunning pattern of burl wood can be created with glazes. ( Images)

Faux comes from a French word meaning "fake." Faux painting is a technique used to create an imitation of the real thing. Burl is a wood highly prized for its beautiful, unique designs, and since it is quite rare, burl wood furniture and sculpture can be expensive. Redwood, walnut and maple burl wood are popular choices. By following a few simple steps, using a glaze mixture, you can transform that old piece of furniture into a spectacularly patterned, faux burl showpiece.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Furniture
  • White semigloss latex paint
  • Raw sienna acrylic craft paint
  • Latex glaze medium
  • Latex extender medium
  • 2-in. chip brush
  • 2-in. bristle brush
  • Water-based polyurethane sealer

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  1. 1

    Paint a base coat on the furniture, using semigloss white latex paint according to the paint manufacturer's directions. Allow the base coat to dry completely.

  2. 2

    Combine 1 tbsp raw sienna acrylic craft paint, 1 tbsp latex glazing medium and 1 tbsp extender medium. Mix thoroughly to create a glaze. This amount is sufficient to cover a 36-in.-diameter round tabletop. Adjust the amount of glaze needed based on the furniture piece you are glazing.

  3. 3

    Brush the glaze over the entire furniture surface. Immediately pat the damp surface, using your extended fingers and flat hand palm in a circular motion. Your fingers and palm lift damp glaze off the furniture, creating a burl-like pattern resembling the inner rings of a tree trunk. Wipe your hand with a soft cloth periodically, keeping your hand clean so the amount of glaze lifted is consistent.

  4. 4

    Brush extremely light, straight strokes over the damp glaze treatment, using a dry chip brush. Feather edges of the ring shapes to give a soft look. A chip brush looks like a regular house painting brush, but it is made from natural bristles. Next, load a bristle brush with a small amount of additional glaze mixture. Lightly swipe random, straight strokes to resemble the uneven dark and light of real wood. Allow the furniture to dry for at least eight hours.

  5. 5

    Apply a water-based polyurethane sealer coat, following the manufacturer's directions. This coat will protect your new faux finish from scratches. Allow the polyurethane coat to dry overnight before using.

Tips and warnings

  • All items needed for this project are available at home improvement centres and craft stores. The staff will answer any questions regarding products and equipment. Free faux painting classes are often offered at these stores.
  • Faux painting kits are available at home improvement centres.
  • Faux wood painting also works well on cabinets, mouldings and doors.
  • A burl is a tree growth where the wood grain has developed in an unusual manner. It is usually found in the tree trunk or branch that is filled with small knots from dormant buds.

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