This is a tutorial on how to paint anything to look like wood.
Maybe not your kitchen sink.
Or the Eiffel Tower.
But you know when you shop the scratch and dent aisle of Hobby Lobby and everything is marked 80% off and you find all those random pieces of plaster and poly resin and plastic and some material that they make from moon rock with a $3.97 price tag and it would fit perfectly onto your mantel or your bookshelf or your dining room hutch….
….if only it looked like an antique.
Now it can.
Here’s how you can make it look just like wood.
This is the piece that I created for the red office I designed last month for Sherwin-Williams.
These pieces came from the discount aisle….
….and when I found them they looked nothing like this.
The squares above are styrofoam.
I know….right? You thought my great, great, great, great, great grandfather brought them over on the Mayflower. I wish I could show you what they look liked before….but I was too busy painting everything in sight red…..
….and I forgot to take before pictures.
Or pictures of any of the steps along the way.
So to demonstrate the process and how I made styrofoam look like this….
…..I went back to the Hobby Lobby discount aisle and found a new scratch and dent friend.
How to Paint Anything to Look Like Wood
paint (at least four different colors of brown)
scratch and dent piece
Step 1: Prime piece
You want to start with a clean slate and cover up and scratches and dents and odd color combinations that are found on the clearance aisle.
Start fresh with a layer of primer.
Step 2: Add first layer of paint
For this project I chose four different colors of brown. I chose a dark brown, honey brown, medium brown and light brown.
To start….I painted the darkest brown any place that would have natural shadows.
That makes sense….right?
If this was real wood….the indentations would look darkest.
I know this seems simple….but the whole drying step is super important. You don’t want all your paint colors running together and looking like mud instead of wood.
Step 3: Add next layer
For this layer I lightly brushed the honey brown.
Adding a honey color is so important because it warms up your piece and really creates the illusion of wood.
Lightly brush over entire piece (but not down into the indentations).
Step 4: Add next layer
This is where it starts getting exciting.
You can actually see it transforming to wood right before your eyes.
Brush your layer of medium brown lightly over the entire piece. You want to let the other two colors show through and not cover up completely what you’ve already painted.
Remember….less is more with this layer.
Step 5: Add highlights
Now you want to come in with your lightest brown and lightly brush over entire piece to create highlights.
You may also want to add some other colors of brown here and there as needed to make sure all the colors are blended.
Step 6: Seal piece
After all your lowlights and highlights are painted.
Let it dry and then seal with a water based protective finish.
Six easy steps to transform almost anything to look like it belongs in a Pilgrim’s house.
Styrofoam has never looked so good.
Tell your kitchen sink not to be jealous.