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How to Create a Faux Wood Finish

There are so many different reasons to use this technique! 

 To make something that isn’t wood look like wood or to make several pieces of wood look like one piece.  For me, I wanted to make a shelf (1/2 inch plywood) and trim piece (1 x 2) look like one solid piece.  


  • Paint (I used Behr Basketry)
  • Gel Stain (I used the color Mahogany)
  • Interior Polyurethane (I used clear matte finish)


  • Paint Roller
  • Paint Brush
  • Deck Stain Brush
  • Hand Broom

Step One: Prep

For this project prep started by filling all gaps between the boards with a wood filler.  Once that was dried, I then sanded the filler flat.  Then I cleaned the shelves using a rag dampened with denatured alcohol to wipe away any dust.  

Then, I taped around the shelf edges to keep any paint or stain from getting onto the walls.

Step Two: Paint

The next step is to paint your base color.  I painted the top, underneath, and sides of my entire shelf unit.  I used the color Basketry by Behr in their Flat Paint & Primer mix.  I used a 2 inch chip paint brush to paint the edges and joints.  Then I used a 3/8 inch nap roller to paint the larger sections. 

Step Three: Layer on the Gel Stain

This is a two part step that you will want to work in small sections at a time.  

First, paint on the gel stain using a stain brush. (I used Varathane Gel Stain in the color Mahogany).

Then, while the stain is still wet, use a rough bristled hand broom to go over the stain.  This adds the look of wood texture.

You can go over the gel stain as much or as little as you like until you get your desired look!

Step Four: Seal the Finish

Since I created this finish on shelves that would have things set on them, and pushed on them and pulled off them, I choose to apply a finish.  I used the Varathane Interior Polyurethane in Crystal Clear Matte finish.  To apply this finish I used a 2 inch chip brush to go over the whole shelf unit.  I choose to use a paint brush instead of a roller because I did not want to loose any of the texture created with the wood stain. 

Links to Create a Faux Wood Finish

How to Create a Faux Wood Finish

Prep Time 1 hour
Build Time 5 hours
Dry Time 8 hours


  • Roller
  • Stain Brush
  • Rough Bristled Brush I used a hand broom


  • Paint and Primer all-in-one I used Behr Basketry
  • Gel Stain I used Varathane Mahogany


  • Prep (Clean and Tape)
  • Paint
  • Layer on Gel Stain
  • Seal the Finish

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