Make PVC Look Like Wood

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Introduction: Make PVC Look Like Wood

About: I live in suburban Pennsylvania with my wife and puppy. I pass the time building robots, photographing microbes and directing live TV. I enjoy learning any new skill that helps me Make! I enjoy even more pas…

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!

Before and After Contest

First Prize in the
Before and After Contest

PVC Challenge

Runner Up in the
PVC Challenge

20 People Made This Project!

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705 Comments

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Stoibs55
Stoibs55

3 months ago on Introduction

Awesome Hack!
Looking to see if its possible to make rain gutters and downspouts with this faux finish on an outdoor bunkie?
Contemplated making them out of raw materials (wood) and this seems to be a simpler and easier fix. What suggestions do you have to make this application to work year round in outdoor Northern Canadian conditions? Also what about ideas on ways of attaching the pipe to the fascia of the bunkie under the tin roof? Picture is for reference!
Thanks in advance.....Cheers!

IMG_4583.JPG
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zaphodd42
zaphodd42

Reply 3 months ago

Hello Canada! Greetings from sunny southern Pennsylvania (currently 29 degrees F and raining.) I'm totally digging the bunkie! If you want to use PVC for gutters, first find a way to safely and effectively slice them horizontally. I'm thinking band saw, as a table saw might be too uncontrolable. The edge of the segment wont have allot of surface to drill into the fascia, so you might want to use "J-Hooks" for PVC pipe. As for the finish, the oil and acrylic I use for the art version might not hold up to Canadian wind and rain and weather which you have in abundance. I reached out to some of the other makers who did infact make projects for outdoor use to see how they held up, and what finishes they used. I'll let you know when they get back to me. What ever you do choose, find a nice light pine color to match the lumber you used unless you want it to stand out like a rich brown. The wood grain texture I would do as outlined in the article, I know that much PVC by hand is allot, but I haven't found any other technique that comes close to the realism it offers. Good luck and keep me in the loop! I'll reach out when I hear about finishes that might hold up over time. (I'm sure you don't need to re-paint your gutters once a year!) Thanks for reaching out! Jason.

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Stoibs55
Stoibs55

Reply 3 months ago

Hello Jason,
Greetings from chilly NorthWestern Ontario, where it is currently -20 Celcius and snowing, yes that is a negative symbol in front of the 20!!!!! LOL
Once I found your technique to add the grain texture I knew that this was something I wanted to try and use on the gutters to add that look to the bunkie rather than plain white PVC tubing.
I've been doing a lot of research regarding how to make the gutters and ways to cut them easier, and found one where you make a jig and use a circular saw, which sounds quite clever, in case I need to make a few depending how they turn out.
I appreciate the feedback on the bunkie, its a work in progress and that was an old pic. I will send you a updated pic of the bunkie with the stained pine T&G siding.
Hope to see more projects that you are working on and I will definitely keep you in the loop once the weather turns a little nicer and I can start working on the bunkie gutter plans. Its always great to see other peoples visions and ideas that come to life. Looking forward to hearing back from you with ideas for finishes that may be more suitable for my harsh NWO climate.

Thanks for the reply.......CHEERS!

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kdanglin
kdanglin

Question 10 months ago on Introduction

Can these sustain outdoor elements? Thanks

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zaphodd42
zaphodd42

Answer 10 months ago

It would depend greatly on with what you use to color the PVC. There's tons of paints and stains, many of which are designed for outdoor use. And don't forget to spray a protective clear coat. If you read through the comments below (and there are LOTS!) makers have suggested serval great ideas that should work. The best ones however (as I've been learning more and more about suitable paint types) are not the types of paint you use a brush for. For real outdoor applications, you may want to use a spray like Krylon for PVC. Rub some oil paint into the faux grain first, then spray with a robust top coat. Experiment using a few colors of spray paint to create natural wood color. But please test this on a small piece first before doing too much work!! Enjoy!!!

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Robotguy210
Robotguy210

Question 2 years ago

Anyone out there work on commission!? For years, I've been wanting to replicate a "wooden" sign from my childhood... I BELIEVE the actual sign was either made of fiberglass(based on many other props made from it too) however it could've just been plastic molded with the logo and the wood grain and streaks... and then just painted with something like this to make it appear like and actual wooden campground sign. Please let me know if anyone takes commission, cause based one everyone's projects here, what I'm wanting should be a piece of cake for any one of you! Very cool items!

I'm in a disabled from a spinal cord tumor that was removed and left me paralyzed and in a wheelchair so, access to our tool shed alone and with limited use of my arms, it's difficult to get projects like this done on my own anymore... but I'm more than willing to pay an artist like you guys... I'm sure everyone can use a couple hundred dollars...?

In the image attached, it appears to be flat, and that may be the case, but I'm looking to get it made at about 24 inches X 14 inches and about 2 inches thick. I plan to just buy a wooden pole for across the top to hang it from and not the entire light post. If I can just get that sign made... that would be something cool that would bring me out of my clinical depression in a flash. I collect stuff from this restaurant(Showbiz Pizza Place) like a few of those robots... but this sign has eluded me as well as the rest the fan community as a whole(No, I'm not the only nut who collects this stuff).

Thank you for any help with this!! dukelarue@juno.com

Campground_lg.jpg
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HighlyUnstable
HighlyUnstable

Answer 12 months ago

A similar technique can be used by using foamular panels from the hardware store and a wire brush and then drybrushing with various colors. There should be an instructable on here for it. It comes out amazing and you can't mess it up as long as you use water based paint.

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michellelcg
michellelcg

Answer 1 year ago

Hi,
Has anybody done the sign for you?

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bonnie.bazata
bonnie.bazata

Question 1 year ago on Introduction

I'm logged in but when I try to download the information, it tells me I need to log in. Any suggestions?

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thousandwordz
thousandwordz

Question 1 year ago

How far does 37ml tube of oil paint go? I have 6 4ft pipes to paint.

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zaphodd42
zaphodd42

Answer 1 year ago

You might get good coverage with that much paint. If coast is an issue, especially if you're using oil paint, you may want to try acrylic. At least as a base, and use oil as a "faux finish" if that makes sense. You can top it all off with a clear coat to protect it. Watcha Makin'?

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thousandwordz
thousandwordz

Reply 1 year ago

Thanks, I am going to try that out, that does makes sense, yes it's the cost, as I am noticing the green color that I need is rather expensive and I am trying to keep down o the cost as this is somewhat for play.
Making piranha plants for my kids. I was struggling with piranha stems and found your post.
Ingenious!!! I love it. It saved me a headache I have been dealing with for a week now.

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zaphodd42
zaphodd42

Reply 1 year ago

Piranha Plants!! Chomp Chomp!! I remember playing the FIRST Mario for hours as a kid! Your project sounds awesome! Look up ideas on bending PVC pipe. If you fill it with sand first, then heat with propane or a heat gun, you'll get a nice smooth curve to the bend and it wont buckle at the stress point. Share a photo when you're done!!!

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Chizzz
Chizzz

Question 1 year ago

Sorry would this ideal for an aquarium decor.

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zaphodd42
zaphodd42

Answer 1 year ago

Hi Chizzz. This was a popular question when the ible first came out! I would be careful with what chemicals you introduce to an aquarium. Please find out what paint or dye is safe for fish. The PVC itself should be ok. Test the safe paint you find to make sure it will stick to PVC and hold up underwater. Good luck. Let me know what you find!

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Chizzz
Chizzz

Reply 1 year ago

Thank you for responding, I will do some research and will let you know what I find.

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gump001
gump001

2 years ago on Step 5

Thanks for the tips think I will try this

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zaphodd42
zaphodd42

Reply 2 years ago

Great! Share when you do!!

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ClayBall
ClayBall

2 years ago

I wished I had thought of this a long time ago.