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 p...

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.

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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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683 Discussions

Marion sage

Question 2 months ago on Step 2

I saw that you used acetone to remove the ink from your pvc; I was wondering if you dont have any canned acetone or mineral spirits could you use finger nail polish remover??? Some of them have acetone in them .

1 answer
zaphodd42Marion sage

Answer 2 months ago

Absolutely. Nail polish remover is in fact mostly acetone. I buy it because it's usually dyed a bright color. This helps tell it apart from other chemicals I keep on my workbench in spray bottles.


1 year ago on Step 5

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.

2 replies

Reply 1 year ago

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?


Reply 7 months ago

Thank you! Many years ago I was trying to remove a chunk of industrial glue from PVC and all I had was the rasp file you see here. After I chunked up the surface a bit, I looked at it and said... "Huh". That's the story.


Question 7 months ago

Just read your instructions about making pvc look like wood. I just added a patio cover to the back of my house. The pulled wiring, but now I see it isn't exactly where I want it, so may have to extend wiring for lights. Thinking of using small pvc pipe as a wire conduit and stain it the color of the wood on the patio. Will that work? Have you used if for that?

1 answer

Answer 7 months ago

Thanks for reading!! Yes, this effect should transfer nicely to smaller gauge PVC. If the PVC will be exposed to wind and rain and weather, make sure you seal it with a UV protected spray or something to hold up to the elements. The ONLY THING I would be weary of is making sure using PVC as electrical conduit is legal were you are. I wouldn't imagine there is an issue, but it's good to be safe. Good luck!!


7 months ago on Step 4

I didn't see the finished desk organizer. Could you put a picture up please.


Question 1 year ago on Step 5

Buen noche.. podría ser en un tubo de PVC color verde hoja el el efecto

2 answers

Answer 8 months ago

Buen idea! Gracias.


Answer 1 year ago

sí. podría ser verde si encontró pintura verde. o colorante verde.


Question 10 months ago on Introduction

Could this be done on aluminum as well? I have poles on my patio that I was wanting to do something like this.

3 answers

Answer 8 months ago

1.Choose a pvc pipe having more diameter.
2.Slice them top to bottom as bamboos are sliced for making mats or fences.
3.Now turn them in to a wood look as the above mastermind did.
4.Finally enclose your aluminium posts sticking these sliced pieces from all sides.


Answer 10 months ago

Hmm... It might take a little more force with the rasp file to make the grooves in the aluminum. But the paint would be easy... just use an aluminum primer and some Rust-oleum for metal. Is the aluminum structural? Is it holding up an awning or something? Can they be removed so as to apply this technique more easily? My first idea wold be to do this with PVC, then encompass that PVC around the aluminum poles.


Reply 10 months ago

They are posts holding up an awning over a patio. I originally was thinking about wrapping in some wood but then saw this.