Hello, Remodelaholics, my name is Tamara and I blog over at Provident Home Design where I share my love for design, DIY, and budget-friendly decorating.
Last time on Remodelaholic I taught how to make a cornhole set from a (free) pallet. There’s still time to make one as outdoor game weather isn’t over yet! In fact, cornhole is a beloved college football party half-time and tailgate activity in my state of Ohio.:-)
Today I’m excited to share a method for getting the stained wood look without stain. Over the years I’ve come across some frustrating aspects of using stains.
First, it requires sanding ahead of time. Those who have sanded before know that it is an arduous task especially if you are sanding a large piece of furniture like a kitchen table. It takes a lot of time and elbow grease and produces tons of dust.
The second disadvantage to using stains is the mess effect. Stains are more runny and harder to control. They are also often applied with a rag which means gloves are necessary unless you want stained hands.
Lastly, I haven’t had a good experience with stains turning out the shade they are supposed to (especially the darker stains). They often require several coats to get to the desired shade (ain’t nobody got time for that)!
The good news is that you can get the beautiful stained look easily with paint- no sanding, no mess, no surprises!
Most wood that has been stained has two main colors or tones to it with varying shades of in between tones.
The trick to getting a copy cat look with paint is first picking out the stain you want to mimic and then choosing a paint that matches the lightest shade and the darkest shade of the stained wood sample.
I recently did a makeover on my back patio (and on a budget of course). I had a wooden table that was worn down, blue wooden chairs I had found curbside, and a free kitchen table that I turned into a coffee table by cutting the legs down.
I somehow needed to make all of these furniture pieces work together and painting them in the same ‘faux stained’ effect was the solution.
Steps to Faux Staining with Paint
1. The first step is to identify the two paint colors that match the darkest and lightest tones of the stain you want to mimic. Picking out some paint color fan decks and holding them up to the stain you like will help you select these two colors.
Mine were Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze (Darkest) and Behr Moroccan Henna (Lightest) in quart size.
2. Paint the piece of furniture completely with the lightest paint color. I used the Behr enamel above and only had to do 1 coat (the chair was previously blue).
3. Next, using a standard 3-inch brush barely dip the tip of the brush into the darkest paint. Even though there should hardly be any paint on the brush still wipe it against the top of the can making sure there is no excess paint on the brush (or you can wipe it against a paper towel).
4. Pull the brush in a quick, long stroke in the direction of the wood grain.
Cover your furniture piece with quick, light strokes of the darkest paint color to your desired result. Make sure that in some areas there is only the lightest color (no darker color covering it).
For example below is a photo of my friend’s beautifully stained kitchen table. You can see how in the areas under the checkmark there is a lighter variation of tone.
This variation of tone is normal in stained wood and is what gives it dimension and beauty so make sure to recreate this effect by leaving some areas of your piece with just the lightest paint color. Below is the coffee table I ‘faux stained’ with the paints mentioned above.
You may want to practice a little bit on a scrap piece of wood to get the feel of it. Just remember if you “mess up” then no worries you can paint over it with the other color.
5. Once you’ve got it to your desired result then finish it off with a protective coat. Since my pieces were staying outside I used an outdoor polyurethane.
That’s it! It sure beats hours of sanding and staining.
I am so happy that my modge podge of tables and chairs now look unified and beautifully ‘faux stained”.
As always thanks for having me and let me know if you have any questions!
If you’re working with bare wood but don’t want to use a traditional stain — try this easy color washing technique!
and I used it on this easy carved wood sign
and it made our DIY Swedish mora clock the perfect pop of yellow while still maintaining the wood grain.
or if you’re ready to put in the work to get down to the bare wood, just follow this tutorial for refinishing furniture — with minimal sanding