November 17, 2023

How to Create a Wood Grain Effect With Paint

How to Create a Wood Grain Effect With Paint

Have you ever found yourself daydreaming of a more rustic look for your home? Maybe everything has been painted plain white and you’re wondering how you can add some texture and interest. Or perhaps you want to refresh the look of flat furniture with wood effect paint. This Frenchic trick for wood grain effect painting is super easy, effective and delivers great results.

So, what exactly is graining?

Graining involves replicating the natural wood grain pattern on non-wood surfaces, such as laminate, or on wood surfaces that lack that natural character, such as MDF. The goal is to create the illusion of wood, enhancing the visual attractiveness of the surface. This post will explain how you can create this effect at home with a simple combination of paint and a hard-wearing top coat.

A guide to the Frenchic wood effect

Let’s have a look at a comprehensive guide for creating a wood grain effect with paint.

What you’ll need

You’ll also need to check the surface you’re working with and make sure that it’s in a suitable condition to paint.

Preparing your surface

Start by mixing concentrated Sugar Soap with lukewarm water. Scrub thoroughly to get rid of any dirt and dust. Then, rinse off any remaining soapy residue and allow the surface to thoroughly dry before applying your chosen paint.

Creating a wood effect with a lighter coat

To achieve a durable wood effect, use a combination of paint colours with light and darker browns. Start by painting your surface in a lighter shade like Salt of the Earth.

Once the first coat has dried, apply a second, thicker coat. Use your graining tool to score that thicker coat while it’s still wet. Slowly drag the tool across the surface, moving it back and forth at points to create a grain effect. You will get the knack of this quite quickly – don't be afraid to experiment and practise a little.

Then leave to dry. You may need to wait a little longer because of the thicker coat. This will give you your base for wood grain effect paint.

Adding a darker colour

To accentuate the artificial grain effect you’ve created, add a darker shade of brown such as Drama Llama.

Paint on a bit at a time with a thin coat, then dry brush to spread the paint even thinner. For best results, follow the direction of how wood grain would run – usually lengthways along each area. This will reveal the wood effect underneath, as shown by upcycling influencer, Abi Hugo (@thewhitethistle) in the video below…


Protecting with a top coat

Finally, you’ll want to protect your wood-effect paint with a hard-wearing top coat. Use Tuff Top Coat for a matte finish or try Finishing Coat for a subtle satin sheen. This will ensure your wood-grain effect is durable, so it keeps its appearance for longer without you having to tip-toe around it!

Why you’ll enjoy this method


Say goodbye to fully sanding and priming with this very straightforward painting technique. The paint is extremely simple to use and makes application a breeze.


This method of using wood grain effect paint is an easy way to get that beautiful authentic look on your furniture and fixtures such as bannisters. You’ll be hard-pressed to recognise the difference from real stained wood.


There’s no need to buy an expensive piece of furniture or install costly banisters to get this popular look. You can snatch up budget-friendly projects from a charity shop or online and transform them into brand-new masterpieces. This gives you a fresh look at a mere fraction of the cost and saves you from having to buy new furniture. 

What about the Frenchic Beam Hack?

The Frenchic Beam Hack is a great option for low-use areas. It’s ideal to create a wood effect on surfaces that won’t be subjected to heavy use – which is why it’s so popular for beams. Find out more in our Frenchic Beam Hack guide.

You may want to try this method if you don’t expect much wear, but for areas that will have high traffic, there will be wear, so maintenance will be needed. Watch as Frenchic Fan Melissa (over at @___makingahouseahome) transforms a plasterboard steel beam into a rustic faux wooden beam with this easy hack!  


Get authentic-looking wood grain with Frenchic

If you’re a fan of authentic-looking wood grain effects, techniques like blending and dry brushing are simple and effective ways to get amazing results! Giving your wood a makeover is easy with high-quality Frenchic paint.

Choose any luxurious paint from the Lazy Range along with our Tuff Top Coat or Finishing Coat for an effortless, authentic and natural-looking banister or piece of furniture. The best part of this Frenchic trick is that you won’t be able to tell the difference. Not to mention avoiding the hassle and cost of stripping the wood.

So if you’re ready to find out more and browse our full range of paint colours for your project, why not check out our online shop or find a local Frenchic stockist? Our friendly and professional team is ready with help and advice whenever you need it.


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