How To Faux Grain Wood
When we first saw our house it was a mess. It had been abandoned. It had been updated by people with no concern for the historic value of a building. It was, in a phrase, 4300 square feet of potential.
As I worked on the house I realized that the wood had, at one time, been stained mahogany, a very common treatment for wood trim in 1910 when this house was built. I was determined to strip every bit of wood in the place and restore the old girl to her original charm and beauty.
What I had not counted on was the fact that down the line a lot of the wood had been replaced with cheap pine. Not all of it, mind you, but enough to make stripping and refinishing an impossibility. I can still remember the shock and frustration I felt as I stripped off paint to find knot hole filled pine from Home Depot. I had a decision to make. Should I forget about the beautiful mahogany stained trim that once graced the house or should I replace all the trim with quality trim and stain it at a small fortune?
I chose answer C, none of the above.
Faux Grain, An Inexpensive Alternative
In the picture above, not only is the wood faux grained but the wallpaper is actually stencilled on the wall! People never notice that it isn't real!
Faux graining has been around a long, long time and it is much easier than most people think. Depending on the colors of undercoat that you use, and the color of stain that you use you can emulate any type of wood. I started out using a graining tool but I found that I got a much better and easier effect with just an old brush and some creative strokes.
Wood graining became very popular in the 19th century. Only the wealthy could afford the beautiful hardwoods for trim and the rising middle class ebgan to use soft woods use graining techniques to make them appear to be the higher quality trim.
Definitely you want to research this. You need to read up on technique and supplies, and maybe check out a book or two at the local library. Practice on scrap wood to find the best undercoat color for the effect that you want to create. Look at different pictures of wood trim to see what appeals to you the most and goes with the style of your house. If you are doing a restoration check what would be appropriate for the time period. Take a deep breath...and move on to the next step.
Actually Painting the Trim
You will need a basecoat in the flat color of your choice. I used a color called Cider Toddy for mine because I wanted the undercoat to subtly match the color in my walls. Next you need to decide on a gel-stain color. Gel-stain is easy to use, it's texture is gloppy, a bit like finger paint. Do not get regular wood stain, make sure it is gel. Aqua resin company has a low VOC stain that I am interested trying. Always try to get low or ) VOC paints for your health and that of your environment!
For my home I chose red mahogany because it matched the original wood stain. You will also need a topcoat to seal it. I chose an amber shellac for mine because it gave the wood a warm, vintage look and this was important to me.
Other supplies you need are:
3. painter's plastic to protect floors
4. painter's tape (masking tape)
5. Brush cleaner
Be sure and tape off the trim by running a length of tape along the wood. This will catch any slips you make and the wall will not get splotched. Paint a coat of your basecoat color and let it dry. Now go back and brush the gel color on, not too thick. It will stay wet awhile so you can experiment with different strokes for different wood effects. When it is almost dry go back with a soft brush and softly blend the strokes until they look more natural. Let dry completely, I usually give it a week, and then shellac.
It really IS that easy.
You can come up with a lot of variations on this. You can do a door, for example, with birdseye maple insets. Maybe you would like a door with tortiseshell insets, or malachite...it is all possible with faux painting techniques. Floors, walls, cabinets, nearly anything can be faux finished with beautiful results. An added bonus is that when everyone sees what you have done you might find a source of another income as they ask you to do the same things in their own homes!
I have been very pleased with my work. It has held up well. The problem is that when it gets nicked during the course of life, white spots show through. I remedy this quickly and easily with a permanent marker or a bit of leftover gel. I suggest completing you first project in a room where you will have the freedom to make mistakes. My first room was our reception parlour and, while the mistakes are obvious only to me, they ARE obvious!
Most of all, enjoy what you do.