Make PVC Look Like Wood





Introduction: Make PVC Look Like Wood

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I came up with this simple trick to give PVC pipe a realistic wood texture when I built a few plastic didgeridoos a couple of years ago. It would also work for theater, home decor or backyard tiki-bars! Send an invite if you build that last one.

Step 1: What You'll Need.

- PVC, Any size you want.

- Heavy Metal File. Mine has Rasp and Double Cut sides. An 8-inch file like this costs $9 at any hardware store.

- 100 Grit Sandpaper

- Artist Oil Paint. You can use acrylic, but it may chip off unless you seal it.

Other Materials:

- Wire Brush, for clearing the file's teeth of PVC.

- Dust Mask, to prevent PVC dust from getting in your lungs.

Step 2: Sand the PVC.

SAFETY REMINDER: Wear a dust mask for this step!!

Remove the shiny coating and ink print on the PVC face with the sandpaper. If the Ink is giving you trouble, give IT some trouble... with acetone. Your PVC should have a nice matte finish.

Step 3: File Away!

Use the rasp side of the file to shred the PVC surface. Pull the file in many directions to give it an organic look. If the file's teeth get clogged, use a wire brush to quickly clear them.

CAUTION: This step will make sharp ridges on the surface of the PVC. Try not to slide your knuckles along the pipe until you have smoothed it out.

Once you're happy with the texture, use the double cut (smoother side) of the file to remove the shavings and sharp ridges on the PVC. Give the plastic a few extra rubs with the sandpaper.

Step 4: Add Some Color.

Find a nice oil color you like for your PVC wood. Wipe it on with a rag, making sure to work it into all the new grooves. You can use some faux finish techniques for extra texture, blotting the paint on in irregular patterns instead of bush strokes. Let it dry. That's it!

Step 5: Going Further...

As I stated above, I used this technique to make a few didgeridoos. If you like this idea, there are many Instructables on making one. You just need PVC and bees wax for a mouth piece.

I would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Enjoy!

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9 Questions


We stained our PVC canopy we made to hang netting on for our garden. It looked great for a month...the sun bleached it entirely out. Since I can't remember our technique I was wondering if your method will last? Thanks!

How will this hold up outside? This would look great on my tiki bar roof of course the pipe cut in half. I live in Arkansas!

It should hold up great with a robust paint and a good sealant. I have not built anything with prolonged exposure to outdoors with this method but as I look through the "I MADE THIS" section I see that other have made awesome outdoorsy things. A kind Private Message to them may provide you with any tips and tricks they would suggest. Some of them made things a year ago and would have great advise about long term exposure to elements. Sorry I dont have that answer myself. But please enjoy and invite me for maragrits in the tiki hut!!!!


I am painting paneling walls and drawer fronts in my older RV. I have a cheep plastic trim that I am hoping this method will work on.

Do you think this will work on plastic trim, as long as I sand and scuff up?

I've tried this method on flat plexi with ok results. Take a look through the comments... I posted a pic for that result for user "tesla51p", Also.. Under "I MADE THIS" you'll see pics of other awesome things to which people have applied this. Check out FRKS1904 refurbished Nintendo64. It makes me tear up!! But I'll say go ahead!! Just make sure you use a sealant or clear coat to protect the finish if you plan on touching it allot like a drawer pull. Good luck. Share what you find!!

Awesome idea! How can I make this safe for aquarium use? My fish like to have hiding places.

Try dying plastic with coffee grounds. Dark roast, fresh from use, nice and steamy. Leave for a couple of hours.


Why risk the lives of the fish when you can use rocks

A quick glance through aquarium hobby sites says the PVC itself is safe to use in aquarium tanks. The only caveat is how to color it with a safe chemical that wont harm the fish. The same sites suggest Krylon Fusion for PVC as being safe ONCE DRY. There may be a few others out there safe to use but PLEASE BE CAREFUL. Chemicals in water with fish is always something to think twice about. Good luck! Post a pic when you're done!!

I have a bare bones covered patio attached to the back of my house that I wanted to beautify. Part of my plan was to place hollow non weight bearing circular columns around the structural wood 4x4 columns that support the 2nd floor deck above. I looked at some options through an architectural elements supply warehouse. They had polyurethane columns for about $1000 apiece. I found out that Home depot can special order 12" diameter PVC pipe in 20 foot lengths for about $400. I will be able to get 2 columns from each length of pipe for a price of about $200 apiece. This would save me $800 per column x 8 columns or $6400. Other than the sunlight degradation/paint issue, do you see any reason not to use these for this purpose? Have you heard of this being done as a cheaper option than polyurethane columns?


Fantastic idea, I have several projects that this can be applied to. Thank you so much for sharing this marvelous tip

Thanks for reading. Sahre pics if you make anything!!

Brown pigment can be mixed into PVC cement to create a durable, peel-resistant coating. Clear cement can be tinted any shade but with the yellow kind, browns or greens (just add blue) work well.

Really?!? What kind of pigment and what kind of cement? (The only cement I know is already deep blue or purple.) And how long might you be able to work with it?

Great looking project.
Actually, I just wanted to comment on your login name. I used to have a personalized license plate "ZAPHOD B", just to remind me that in any adverse situation in which I wasn't wearing my peril sensitive glasses, at least I could slap both forehead and my right knee while exclaiming, "Zark! And I thought I was one of those guys who really knew where my towel was!"

HA! No hoopy frood would be without his towel!!

Very - very - cool!!! Thank you so much!!