Painting Metal to Look Like Wood




Introduction: Painting Metal to Look Like Wood

This instructable will show you how to give a wood-like appearance to a flat metal plate. This is a very simple process, which involves a coat of paint and a varnish finish.

I came up with this process (although I'm sure I didn't invent it) to make a rusted metal circuit box cover blend better with the wooden accents in our home. The circuit box was never properly installed, and as a result was just a mess of dangling wires and exposed switches. My original thought was to make a wooden door to cover this mess, but after searching through the storage shed, I found the metal box that was intended to cover the circuit box.

After a bit of sanding, a coat of paint, and a coat of varnish, we now have a beautiful wood-like circuit box that goes nicely with our wooden door and window frames.

• Paint
• Varnish
• Something to paint

• Paint brush
• Sand paper

Step 1: Sand Metal

Depending on the condition of the original metal you are working with, sand any rusted spots, and if it's a painted object, sand off the finish so the new coat of paint will apply properly. I used a metal sandpaper for this process.

Step 2: Paint

To create the appearance of wood, I used a coffee colored (if you take your coffee with milk) enamel paint, which in Portuguese is called "Tabac," I guess because it has the appearance of dried tobacco. Select a paint color depending on your desired finished product.

The most important part about the painting process, and the key to creating this effect, is to stroke the paint on in one direction, (likely up and down) creating the effect of wood grain. Make sure not to put too much paint on the brush, to create the desired effect.

The object I started with was tan, which helped create this effect. If the object you are painting doesn't have an earth tone to begin with, you should probably consider starting with a base coat that has a natural color.

Let the paint dry thoroughly before moving to the next step.

Step 3: Add Varnish Finish

Once the paint has dried, add a coat of varnish, paying special attention to the areas where the original paint job shows through.

I used a varnish called Sparlack Neutrex, which added a reddish hue to the finished effect.

The finished product doesn't look exactly like wood, but certainly looks better than the exposed switches, or a rusty metal box!;-)

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    7 years ago

    That looks amazing, but make sure to check your local laws because here in north california it's illegal to paint circuit boxes.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome looking. I actually think it does look like wood, but would you please take a couple of pictures from further away? That way we get the full effect. Your close pictures are great for showing the detail though.

    Winged Fist
    Winged Fist

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Irish2ice - I found it very difficult to photograph this final product, as with the flash it created a glare, and without the flash it was just too dark to make out any detail.

    I did this project on vacation in our beach house in Brazil, and now I'm back in NYC, and unfortunately don't have any better pictures to post of the final product. Maybe next time I visit I can get some better pics.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    It is probably just one's personal taste, but I think a simple two coats of a semi-gloss enamel would have looked better. Frankly I don't think this even resembles wood grain, but to each his own!