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How to Paint a Wood Grain Effect on Metal

How to Paint Wood Grain Effect on Metal


Do you want to give your metal projects a beautiful wood grain effect? It’s actually much easier than you’d expect! We’ll teach you how to do it in this post. You’ll need some basic materials and a little patience, but the outcomes are well worth it.

Why Paint Metal to Look Like Wood?

Metal can be a beautiful and versatile material, but it can also look a little cold and sterile. If you want to give your metal projects a warmer, more rustic look, you can paint them to look like wood. This is a great way to add some character and personality to your creations. There are a few ways to achieve this wood grain effect, but we will use a simple painting technique using a tintable oil-base stain.

Refurbish Aged Metal Furniture

If you have an old piece of metal furniture that you want to give a new lease on life, you can paint it to look like wood. This is a great way to restore an old piece of furniture without spending a lot of money. All you need is a few basic supplies and some patience. 

Turn the Metal Aesthetic into a Natural Wood Look

Turn the Metal Aesthetic into a Natural Wood Look


The metal look can get old quickly, but what options do you have other than painting it another solid color? If you are looking for a way to turn plain metal into something with more character, painting it to look like wood is a great solution. 

Creative Opportunities for Painting Metal to Look Like Wood

Consider one of these projects to beautify your home, or choose a piece of custom metal to work on to add a special touch to any space.

Metal Doors

With a simple, hand-held tool that can be found at most hardware stores, you can add wood grain to any metal door. You must properly prepare the door before staining — nevertheless, the results will be breathtaking.

Metal Tables

That out-of-date metal table you don’t care for can get a new lease on life with a fresh coat of faux wood grain stain. 

Metal Bookshelves

Giving old metal bookshelves a new lease on life is an easy weekend project that can save you money and give you the satisfaction that comes from a job well done. 

Metal Breaker Box

It is no secret that a metal breaker box is not the most attractive part of any home — especially if it is located in your living area rather than hidden in a closet or basement. However, you don’t have to live with that look. Adding a wood grain finish to an old breaker box is easy to do and helps it blend in with the rest of your home’s interior.

How to Achieve a Wood Look on Metal: The Wood Graining Tool

Wood Graining Tool

Wood Graining Tool


The ZAR® Wood Graining Tool may be used on a variety of surfaces, including wood, metal, painted and plastic, to give it a beautiful natural look.

Choosing a Great Stain

Interior Oil Base Stain

Interior Oil Base Stain


ZAR Interior Oil Base Stain is a versatile, full-bodied, translucent wiping stain that can be applied to multiple surfaces including:

  • Wood

  • Faux wood

  • Plastic

  • Fiberglass

  • Masonite®

  • MDF

  • Metal

Steps to Paint Wood Grain Effect on Metal

1. Wipe the Metal to be Stained Free of Dust and Other Particulate Matter

The first step is to thoroughly clean the metal furniture. You will need to remove all the dirt, dust and debris. 

2. Sand the Metal

Next, you need to sand it down until it is smooth. Make sure to remove all of the rust and corrosion. 

3. Wipe off Sanding Dust and Use Clean Rag with Mineral Spirits to Wipe

Once the metal is clean and smooth, you can start the process. If your metal projects have previously been painted with dark paint, use a semi-gloss or eggshell coat as a base coat before beginning the procedure. 

4. Apply Coat of Interior Oil Stain with Wood Graining Tool

Wipe a thin, uniform layer over the region you are working on with a soft cloth. This is called the grain coat. With the index finger, draw the graining tool across the area while applying downward pressure with the thumb and moving it at a constant speed. To create a natural heartwood look, rock the graining tool gently up and down as you pull it toward you. Remember not to release your grip on the grain when utilizing this technique.

Don’t worry if you make a mistake. Wipe the wood stain over the error and grain it again. Clean off what you’ve done using a wet cloth dampened with paint thinner or mineral spirits, then start again.

5. Apply Coat of Polyurethane Once Dry

Mix thoroughly before applying the tone coat. Wipe on another thin, uniform layer of the same color ZAR Wood Stain in the grain pattern direction and mix it again. The tone coat is a hue that gives the door a look similar to real wood. Do not sand between coats, as sanding will ruin the simulated grain pattern.

To feather out streaks and lap marks, use a dry brush or a light application. To highlight the grain pattern, use either method. The amount of stain you apply controls how visible the grain pattern is on the door. A small quantity allows more of the pattern to be seen; a thicker coating covers it up.

Create a Beautiful Wood Grain Effect on Metal with ZAR

Create a Beautiful Wood Grain Effect on Metal with ZAR


That’s all there is to it! As you can see, this is a simple but effective way to give your metal projects a beautiful wood grain effect. ZAR maintains a commitment to quality with stains and finishes that are easy enough for DIYers to use and reliable enough for contractors to trust. Contact us today for the location of a retail store near you.

Watch the Video Below to See the Process Step by Step: