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Faux Woodgrain Finish on My Front Doors

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 Front door makeover showing how to paint a faux woodgrain finish or faux bois effect on entry doors using paint and liquid glazing medium.

This post is sponsored by KILZ®, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.


Here is the before photo of the front entrance of my house that I shared with you on Instagram a few weeks ago.

The doors are unique in design and solid, but the finish was in bad shape and I have been wanting to lighten the wood stain color of the doors so it matches the lake side of the house where the wood trim is lighter.

How to paint a faux woodgrain finish with paint

From a distance the doors look fine, but up close…. not so much. They are in need of a makeover!

I also wanted the green painted sidelight trim on either side of the double doors stained in a wood tone to match so it looks more like there are 4 wood doors across the entry.

Update: The green/teal color of the house has been painted with a neutral color. You can see how it looks in this post: House Exterior Before & After Makeover

I would love to replace the doors with 6 panel doors like Chip and Joanna of Fixer Upper fame have on their home and…

Exterior door idea

…had fun with Photoshop to show you my future vision to add four of the same style – 6 panel doors to replace the existing doors on my house, but that is not going to happen anytime soon.

Since the current doors are stained and the sidelights painted, I would have to strip everything and re-stain it all so they are all the same color.

I did sand away an area on one of the doors and also on the green painted sidelights and found they are different colors of wood, so stain would look different on each.

Then I remembered back in the early 90’s doing a faux woodgrain finish on a bench using paint and liquid glazing medium.I knew I could do the treatment on the doors, but first needed to find some photos of wood doors in the color I wanted to use as inspiration and a guide to create a wood look using paint and glaze.

I found this photo of these beauties to use as my faux woodgrain painting guide. If you notice the doors are made up of panels where some of the wood grain is horizontal and other sections vertical.

To make sure my faux woodgrain painting would look authentic, I made sure to follow how the grain on my doors was directed so my painted wood grain effect would look as close to real wood as possible.

How to Choose The Color Paint to Resemble the Color of Wood

To choose the colors of paint, I dipped a paint stirrer in a can of stain we have that is used on the lake side of the house deck and trim. The other side is the paint color of the house.

I then went to Walmart where KILZ® Complete Coat is sold and found that the colors Golden Sunrise and Tonka Bean would create the same color or close.

How to Paint Faux Woodgrain with KILZ® Complete Coat Paint

supplies needed: 

  • KILZ® Premium primer
  • KILZ® Complete Coat in the colors: Base coat: Golden Sunrise and Top Paint/Glaze coat: Tonka Bean – Semi-gloss finish.
  • Liquid Mixing Glaze  – Sold in craft and paint stores. Used to create faux finishes with paint.
  • Paint Brushes  – 3 – 4″ wide
  • Wood Graining Tool
  • Wallpaper brush
  • Whisk Broom
  • Paint stirrers
  • Coffee can or container with lid to mix paint and glaze together
  • 100 grit sandpaper and sanding block
  • Painter’s Tape

Creating Faux Wood Grain in 3 Steps:

The process can take a few days since you have to wait for each coat of primer and base color of paint to dry completely before adding another coat of paint.

I waited a few days in between each coat since it is hot and humid where I live and paint takes longer to dry in such conditions. If doing this when the temps are not soaring, you may be able to add the next coat of paint every 4 hours.

  1. KILZ® Premium primer coat – 2 light coats, let dry after each coat..
  2. Base Coat Color – Golden Sunrise, 2 light coats, let dry after each coat.
  3. Wet Topcoat with Glaze:  Color – Tonka Bean  – This coat is where the wood grain magic happens when you drag a wood graining tool, wallpaper brush, and then a whisk broom through the wet/paint/glaze to create the striated look of wood.
  1. Remove door hardware and sand doors to smooth wood, but not to the bare wood, just enough to remove shine from the previous finish and provide some tooth for the primer to adhere.  These doors had a lot of coffee-graining in the stain so I had to sand hard in a few areas to remove it. Once sanded smooth, clean doors with dish detergent and hot water or use a product like TSP. Rinse with clear water and let dry.
  2. Mask off areas you don’t want paint on with Painter’s tap, lay down drop cloths.  I taped cardboard on the inside of the doors to close off the door knob openings since we had the AC on in the house.

3. Apply first coat of KILZ® Premium primer using a brush or roller, let dry.

4. If you see bleed thru coming through the primer, let first coat dry and apply another light coat of primer, let dry.

5. Let primer dry for 4 hours.

6. After primer is dry, apply first coat of base color paint. I used the color Golden Sunrise. It looks pretty bold, but once the top coat of brown Tonka Bean paint/glaze goes over it, it will be very subtle.  I applied two coats of the color, letting the first coat dry overnight before applying a second coat.

How to Create the Faux Woodgrain Topcoat

Woodgraining tutorial using paint, liquid glaze and and brushes

Here are the tools in the order I used them: Paint brush, woodgraining tool, wallpaper paste brush, whisk broom, chip brush. 

There are many types of wood graining tools and ways to use them. Some have graduated size combs, others are like the one above where one side creates the swirls and knots you seen in some wood, the prong side creates grain line stripes. I used the prong side.

Note:  I used the larger tool and cut the ends off each side so when I dragged it through the topcoat I could go right up against an edge along the doorframe.

7. Apply the top color of paint in the color Tonka Bean mixed with clear glazing liquid.  Here you can see how it looks after I dragged a wood graining tool, wallpaper brush, and a whisk broom through the wet paint/glaze.

Here is a close up after the wallpaper paste brush was brushed over the surface.

Below is a graphic that shows all the steps with tools used:

I worked one section at a time so I could follow the wood grain direction in each section.

  1. Dry base color of Golden Sunrise. 
  2. Mix Tonka Bean with liquid glazing medium.  4 parts paint to 2 parts glaze. Use more glaze to your mix if you want more transparency. Brush on door.
  3. As soon as paint/glaze mixture in brushed on, run the woodgraining tool through the wet paint/glaze keeping the tool as level as possible to create straight lines. It is OK if you waver a little as real wood grain does, too. :-)
  4. Gently run the wallpaper brush vertically through the wet paint/glaze to soften the woodgraining tool lines.
  5. Using both hands a some pressure, run the whisk broom through the wet paint/glaze.
  6. If you see any blobs or areas that still need softening, use a chip brush over the area

NOTE: If you don’t like the way it looks, simply brush on another coat of Tonka Bean/glaze and repeat the steps.

If you want a darker more layered wood grain look, let first layer dry and then apply one more coat of the paint/glaze mixture and repeat the steps.

Such simple tools create the look of wood grain.


I used the same process for all the carved areas on the doors. The chip brush came in handy to remove excess paint/glaze around the recessed areas.

I made sure to complete the panels on the doors where the door knobs go first so we could use the doors again.


The new bronze handles!!! Just like in my inspiration photo.  :-)

They complete the new lighter faux woodgrain painted finish.

I am very happy with how they turned out and even the UPS guy who brings me packages on a daily basis noticed the difference right away and told me how good the doors looked…and so much better then before.

The power of paint :-)

How to paint a faux woodgrain finish

I would like to add some flowers to the porch but it never gets any sun. I am in search of something fake that will add some color to the area. I am also going to paint over all the green paint with a neutral color, but that will have to wait until the fall.

The entrance looks much lighter and grander now that the doors and sidelights are the same. I am so happy I decided to go for it and use paint to makeover the doors instead of waiting what may be years to be able to afford new doors.


If you prefer to watch a video of the step-by-step process, this is short, but may help you see the process in real time:

Want more paint products and project inspiration?

Check out the KILZ® website and follow KILZ® on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Painted Faux finishes. How to use two colors of KILZ Compete Coat paint to create a faux wood grain finish on doors and more. Simple step-by-step process that anyone can do using basic tools that you may already have in your home. How to create the updated look of light wood exterior doors like you see on the homes they make over on the show Fixer Upper. Create this look using a faux wood grain finish using paint and glazing medium. No need to buy new doors.

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  1. WOW! What a beautiful transformation! You are absolutely amazing. Looks totally different with the trim color gone around the windows…..love it! As for flowers and color, you could always use some shade plants such as “winged leaf begonias” which I always use on my covered porch and they do get big and so colorful. Also, geraniums come in a beautiful, bright pink color that you love and they do very well in shade……have one of those also on my porch. Our covered porch here on the creek in Murrells Inlet gets so much shade and I have to have some blooming plants on the porch, not just all green plants with no color. Again, great job!!

    1. Hi Carol – Thanks and thanks for the shade loving flower recommendations. I will check into each the next time I am out and about, but know I would LOVE the pink geraniums. There are many nurseries around so I am sure I will find them. I also will search for some planters.

  2. Diane! This has got to be one of the hardest most involved mult-step projects I have seen you do. Or could it be the video? I don’t know but either way I admire your guts and ambition. I would never tackle a job like that! You do beautiful work!

    1. Hi Elaine – Thanks – The heat was the hardest part to deal with. When I started it was in the 80s and then it shot up to 95 – 98 the following days. It was hot!!! I did most of the painting in the early morning. Making the video was a little stressful since the area is in the shade. My sister came to visit so I used her as an extra pair of hands to take the video footage.

  3. Again, WoW! Looks a hundred times better. You are such an inspiration! That was a big job (especially in the summer heat) I’m ready to scrape the door on my pumphouse and repaint after this!! :) Thanks for sharing Diane