Wood grain can look like metal if you prep it correctly. I'll list the steps you need to take to completely change the look of beat up wood and bring in a metal look for your decor.
Step 1: Every Project Starts With Something Ugly, and a Materials List
The bathroom refinish was coming along nicely, but I was stumped by the vanity. It was custom built when the house was new which made replacing it difficult and expensive. There was missing veneer on the doors, and a lot of chips and gouges. Paint can cover many ills, including ugly wood grain.
Gather your materials
Wood filler, Spackling paste, acrylic gesso, 1/2" galvanized upholstery tacks
electric sander, screwdriver, spackle blade, tack hammer
Dust mask, eye protection and earplugs
Martha Stewart metallic acrylic paint in Wedding Cake (one bottle), Pure Platinum (one), Sterling (two), Brushed Pewter (two), and Gunmetal (one)
1 1/2 " brushes (two) and one 1/4" brush
Step 2: Get to Work
Prep work is the biggest part of this project. The grain needs to be filled in to achieve a metal look and that takes a few steps. The better you fill the grain, the better the final project will look.
Start by filling in the missing veneer with wood putty. It will take a couple of coats, sanding in between coats. Don't worry about getting it perfect at this point, just fill in any big gaps.
Remove the door hardware next.
Step 3: Spackle, Sand, Repeat
Skim the cabinet, doors and drawer fronts with spackling paste. Plan on a couple of coats, sanding between coats. A power sander will make this go much quicker, just be sure to use a dust mask, ear plugs and eye protection.
Step 4: Gesso Is Your Friend
Remove the doors and drawers for the next step, which is continuing to eliminate the wood grain. Brush on two coats of acrylic gesso, sanding between coats to smooth the finish and cover the grain.
Step 5: Finally, Painting!
After all that work, you deserve to have some fun and painting is the fun part. I used four colors of Martha Stewart metallic paint plus white for the final touches.
Use Brushed Pewter to loosely cover the cabinet, drawer fronts and doors. It doesn't have to be complete coverage, this just establishes the tones.
Step 6: Creating a Metal Finish
Stipple Gunmetal and the Sterling together. Using two brushes paint random splotches of color on the surface, then using just the tips of the brushes blend the colors. Don't over blend, you don't want just one color showing. The paint dries pretty fast, so do small areas and work quickly.
Step 7: Just the Details
Replace the doors and the door pulls. At this point, you could stop if you want, however adding details are what will make this stand out from every other faux zinc painted piece you come across. There might not be many, but details make the piece.
Using a tack hammer and 1/2" galvanized upholstery tacks, add a few tacks to the edges of the drawer fronts, the doors, the sides, anywhere else that you think tacks might be holding on sheets of metal.
Zinc oxide is white, so using a small brush, trace a bit of diluted white paint anywhere that corrosion is likely to form. Around tack heads is a good location, as are inside corners. Use a small brush to fling small spots of paint randomly for a more realistic finish.
Use Pure Platinum to dry brush outside corners.
It may take a few days to a week for the paint to harden completely. To avoid damage, leave the doors and drawers partly open while the paint is curing.