Any home handyman can, with just a bit of practice, do a fairly good job of creating a wood-grain effect paint finish over any paintable surface. This painting technique, once mastered, will enable you to refinish a metal radiator cover so that it mixes in with a wood-paneled wall or to employ a wood-grain finish over previously painted wood or metal cabinets, doors and moldings.
Though accurate duplication of a specific wood gain finish is a challenging task which demands a great deal of skill, you can do a presentable job of creating a finished effect which will nearly resemble natural wood in color and look. Generally, there are three steps involved: application of a base coat which renders the needed background color; application of pigmented graining color or accented stain over this and application of one or two coats of clear varnish to preserve the finish.
The base coat should be a satin-sheen enamel or good quality enamel underbody. While almost all professionals would like to tint this to their own color to get the accurate shade required, home painters will find it easier to purchase a ready-mixed ground coat or base coat from any paint supply store. This comes in a neutral buff or beige color which is enough as a background for most wood-grain effects. If another shade is needed, you can purchase white underbody and tint it yourself, using colors-in-oil or tinting colors which come in tubes.
The base coat should be applied as smoothly as possible with none of the original color showing through. One coat will do in most cases, but a second coat should be applied if the first coat doesn’t cover evenly. This is permitted to dry overnight prior to proceeding with application of the graining color on top.
For the graining color, a ready-mixed pigmented oil stain can be bought. This eliminates of the task of mixing your own paint. The pigmented stains differ from other oil stains in that they are partly opaque and contain sufficient pigment to “take hold” when applied over a ground coat. Penetrating oil stains and alcohol-based spirit stains will not work over a painted-on base coat since these stains can simply be applied over a porous wood surface.
The stain or graining color called for can be decided by consulting the manufacturer’s color card. These sample cards are generally made up by applying the paint stain over a base coat or ground color, instead of by actual application over raw wood. When choosing a color, remember that the stain can be lightened or darkened during application just by varying he amount which is brushed on. Intermediate colors also can be achieved by buying two or more stains and intermixing them to gain the precise shade required.