Thrifty Transformation: How to Paint a Door to Look Like Wood

1 Day
For a few years, I've wanted to spruce up our side door. Find out how I made it look like an expensive, solid wood door for less than $40.
Here's a peek at the before and after.
After removing the hardware and cleaning off all the cobwebs and bugs, I gave the door a once over with a coat of exterior flat paint. I chose Clark+Kensington® Paint & Primer in One – in Copper Pot, purchased at Ace Hardware. I chose the orange color because I wanted a finished result that mimicked a cedar/cherry wood look. I would recommend choosing a base paint color that matches the undertones of whatever wood you want to replicate.
After the paint dried, I mixed together portions of two tubes of Minwax Water-Based Express Color Wiping Stain and Finish. I chose mahogany and walnut and ended up using a little more of the mahogany. (This thicker wiping stain or a similar gel stain is key for this project. Regular stain will not adhere to painted pieces.)
Then I used a good paintbrush (Purdy is my all-time favorite) to apply a coat of the mixed stain to a small section of the door, attempting to create a natural wood look.
I had my laptop nearby the whole time, displaying a photo of a door I wanted to replicate. This gave me a clear picture of the direction, appearance and texture of real wood grain. I used this handy wood graining tool to create realistic knots and different types of wood grain patterns in the stain.
Together, the exterior paint base and wiping stain create a superior, durable finish. I used this exact same technique on our front door and it has held up spectacularly well for several years. We have a dog that jumps on the door every day and there is not one single scratch in the finish!
The wood grain looks realistic, even close up!
What do you think of the transformation? Visit the blog post for more details on this project.
Living Rich on Less - Susan
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
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  • Love your Faux Wood Door! Would this work on a ceiling beam? (drywall & plaster).

  • Olive Olive on Aug 22, 2018

    What's the little tool youused to create wood knots etc?

  • Kelli Kelli on Jul 29, 2019

    Did you paint the inside of the door as well? Or leave it as a regular painted door? Just curious.

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