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How to Make Exterior Paint Look Like Stain

Lisa Wampler

Paint and stain differ in one significant way: Paint, unlike stain, creates a solid finish over a wood surface. Stain, for the most part, allows the natural grain of the wood to show through. You can use exterior paint and mimic a stain finish. This is a good way to obtain colors that are not readily available in stains. The process for applying paint as stain does not differ much from the process for installing a standard stain.

Step 1

Mix 1 cup of paint thinner to 1 gallon of exterior paint to help thin the paint out. The exact ratio is not critical, however. Mix the paint and thinner with a paint stick.

Step 2

Apply a thin layer of paint to the surface of the wood with a paint sponge. Overlap each stoke by 50 percent to achieve a consistent layer of paint. Wait 10 to 15 minutes before moving on.

Step 3

Wipe the paint off the surface of the wood with a clean rag. Follow the grain of the wood while wiping the paint off. This removes the excess paint and leaves the paint in the wood grain.

Step 4

Inspect the wood after 24 hours' drying time. If you feel you want the color darker, repeat the process a second time.