How to Paint Furniture to Look Like Wood

Painting furniture to look like wood can be a fun but labor-intensive activity. However, once you have finished the project, you will have a piece of furniture that could pass for the real thing. After a few tries, you might just discover that you have found a new hobby.

Paint Furniture to Look Like Wood
  1. Wear gloves and protective eye wear before starting this project. Use the cleaning agent to clean the surface that you will be painting. If there is any portion of the surface that is shiny, sand it down using either the electric sander or the sand paper. A palm sander might be helpful in achieving this. Sanding the surface will allow the paint to stick. Further prepare the surface by applying the wood primer with a paint brush. Dip the brush in the primer, shake off the excess and apply it to the surface in even strokes. Allow primer to dry before proceeding to the next step.

  2. Mask all the surfaces that will not be painted by using the painter's tape. You will also want to make sure that you remove locks or hinges, etc. if you are painting cabinets or something similar. In order to achieve the most natural wood look possible, apply the satin latex paint to the surface after the primer has dried. Apply the paint in small sections at a time, using a paint brush. As with the primer, dip the brush, shake off the excess and apply the paint to the surface. Allow the paint to thoroughly dry.

  3. Once the pain is dried, apply a thin coat of stain. Work on small sections at a time. The graining tool will be used at this point. It is similar to a stamp tool and lets you leave the wood look in the stain. Before using the tool for this project, practice with it a few times so that you can get acquainted with how it works. The way you use the tool will determine how long the wood grains will be. In order to use this tool, you must use your index finger to exert pressure and move the tool in a rocking (back and forth) motion at a constant speed. By doing this, you will create grain pattern. When you are happy with the results, you will be ready for the next step.

  4. Graining in tight corners is a tough job but can be accomplished if you use steel wool or a dry brush. Different effects can be achieved by starting at the top and moving down while graining or by starting from the bottom and moving up. If you wish to soften the grain pattern's look, use a dry brush or a soft cloth and brush the area before the stain begins to dry.

  5. Let all furniture dry for at least 24 hours. Once drying has been completed, use a brush or a lint-free cloth to apply an even, thin coat of stain. This technique will give the piece the coloring needed to make it look like real wood. Streaks can be feathered out by using a dry brush. Allow the piece to dry for at least two hours before applying the top coat. If you desire a darker wood look, then apply another coat of stain to the piece of furniture. However, a thin layer will bring out the grain, while a thick layer will cover some of the grain, so make sure you are aware of how much you are applying and which look you wish to achieve. If you apply a second coat, allow it to dry once again. Once drying is complete, you can apply the clear coat for protection. Dip a brush in the clear coat, shake excess off and apply in long, even strokes to the furniture. Allow the clear coat to dry.


  • Make sure the furniture is dry before applying the clear coat or it can develop bubbles in the paint. Always wear protective gloves and eye wear before starting any home improvement project. Make sure to work in well-ventilated areas to avoid sickness from paint fumes.