How To Paint Wood Grain

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Estimated Time: 
Roughly two days (including drying time)
The Gorgeous Grain Effect


Are you thinking of embarking on a painting project but lack ideas? Adding a faux finish to your walls could be just what you need to spruce up a blah room.

Wood grain is a great technique that adds a unique look to your walls. It's achieved with a special "wood grain" tool that you run down wet paint combined with glaze and when it dries it creates the look of knotty wood.

Project Steps

In our sample project, we used pink to help you think outside the box when it comes to wood grain. Don't limit yourself to brown. Try using this technique in your home office or a child's room where a colored forest can be woven into many a fairytale.

Jane Tip: Because the wood grain tool takes a little effort to use we recommend you start by practicing the entire process on a scrap piece of drywall. This will familiarize you with the technique beforehand and you can see if you really like the look of the wood grain.

Step 1

If your walls are in pretty rough shape fill any holes with sealant and give them a once-over with primer. Most painted surfaces should be primed no matter what shape they are in; it helps make the paint last longer.

Step 2


Roll on your base coat. We chose a pale pink with a deeper pink on top. It's important to choose a base color that is lighter than your top coat. The greater difference in hue, the bigger the contrast.

Step 3

Let the base coat dry for about one day.

Step 4

In a bucket mix the glaze and the top coat, stirring thoroughly with your mixing tool. When you cannot see any streaks of the glaze still swimming in the paint you are ready to begin.

Step 5

Measure your wall and then divide it into even sections of roughly 3 feet in width. Using your wood grain tool with no paint on it, measure approximately how many rows are going to run down each section. You may want to adjust your section widths accordingly.

Step 6

To get the most uniform look work in alternating sections. Start by running a line of painter's tape from the floor to the ceiling, using a level to make sure your tape line is straight. This will be your guide.

Step 7


Using a roller, apply an even layer of the paint/glaze mixture to your first section.

Step 8


In even vertical strokes, use a cheesecloth pom-pom and run it down the wall, making slight striations in the paint.

Step 9


Grab your wood grain tool. Starting at the top of the wall, drag it down through the paint while rocking it. Be sure to work quickly, yet not hastily. (Remember, you want to be neat)

Jane Tip: Practice and re-practice using the wood graining tool on a piece of cardboard or plywood. The technique comes from a precise amount of force coupled with rocking the tool along the wall. It might seem logical to press softly, but a firm pressure as you guide the tool down the wall will get the best result.

Step 10


Continue to run the tool down the wall, rocking it evenly while pressing firmly.

Step 11

Once you are finished with the sections for that day let them dry.

Step 12

Start the next day by marking off the edges of the unfinished sections. You will apply a line of tape over yesterday's paint so you will have a seamless transition from one section to the next.

Step 13

Allow the paint to dry for about one day.

Wood graining, especially when paired with funky colors, is an unusual but fun addition to a room. It's great for children's rooms where little imaginations develop. Hey, the walls are probably in need of a paint job anyway. Don't limit yourself to one particular color either. Any light/dark color combination will work, so don't be afraid to borrow some imagination from the younger members of the family.

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