Easiest Raw Wood Finish With Paint (No Stripping or Bleaching Required)
Get the PErfect Natural wood Finish On Any Surface
Put the bleach and furniture stripper away! This easy tutorial will show you how to get a gorgeous raw wood finish with latex paint.
Today’s biggest trend in furniture is a natural, raw wood, farmhouse finish. The only problem is that you can’t exactly get this finish with a can of stain from your home improvement store.
There are several tutorials online that help you achieve a raw wood look with household bleach, furniture stripper or both. But your results will always hinge on the type of wood hidden underneath that stain or paint.
In other words, stripping or bleaching is risky because you can never be sure of the finish you’ll end up with. And who wants to be elbow-deep in furniture stripper or bleach!?
Fortunately, after lots of experimenting, this step-by-step tutorial shows you how to get a stunning raw wood finish with latex paint on ANY surface. That includes painted surfaces, stained wood, laminate, and even metal.
The console table in this tutorial is actually white laminate but I think you would agree that the final reveal is pretty impressive!
LET ME SHOW YOU:
- How easy it is to get a raw wood finish on any surface
- The easy way to customize this look to your style
- How you can get this look without volatile chemicals – just low-cost latex paint and glaze
- Some encouraging news about God’s love for you in this week’s Renovate Your Faith tutorial at the end of this post
(As an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. I only use affiliate links for products I use and love. Please see my full disclosure HERE).
Quick Links to Information in this Post
- 1 Get the PErfect Natural wood Finish On Any Surface
- 2 Supplies Needed Painting Furniture to Look Like Natural Wood Furniture
- 3 How to Create a Natural Wood Finish With Latex Paint
- 3.1 Step 1: Lightly Sand Your Furniture Piece
- 3.2 Renovated Faith: What’s In a Name?
- 3.3 Step 2: To Get A Natural Wood Finish, Prime First
- 3.4 Step 3: How to Paint a Natural Wood Color Base Coat
- 3.5 Step 4: Tape Off Portions To Make Painting The Natural Wood Finish Easier (Optional)
- 3.6 Step 5: How to Paint a Natural Wood Color with Glaze
- 3.7 Step 6: Dry Brush With White For A Bleached Wood Finish (Optional)
- 3.8 Step 7: Protect Your Natural Wood Finish
- 4 RENOVATE YOUR FAITH: Recognizing The Voice of God vs. Your Inner Critic
- 5 FAQ’s: How to Get a Raw Wood Finish On Furniture
- 5.1 What decor goes with a raw wood Look finish?
- 5.2 How to Seal Raw Wood without Changing the Color?
- 5.3 What is the best oil for a natural wood finish?
- 5.4 Why Not Use a Natural Wood Stain To Get The Look of a Natural Wood Furniture Finish?
- 5.5 Is there a natural wood color paint for Furniture?
- 5.6 What is the Best Paint for Furniture?
- 5.7 Can this Raw Wood Look Finish be Used on Other surfaces?
- 6 More Posts Related to a DIY Raw Wood Finish
- 7 Final Thoughts How To Paint furniture to look like Natural wood Stain
- 8 Faux Raw Wood Finish: Painting FUrniture to Look Like Natural Wood Furniture
You can open any home decor magazine to see stunning pieces of real wood furniture. But unfortunately, this has not been an easy look to replicate in the past.
As I mentioned, refinishing would mean stripping off the old paint or stain to get to the original raw pine with furniture stripper. Some also add some bleach for a more vintage, whitewashed look.
When I do furniture projects, it’s not just to have a beautiful piece of home decor that reflects my tastes without crushing my budget. Furniture refinishing is like cheap therapy for me as I so enjoy the process itself, not just the result.
But if I have to get a headache from the furniture stripper and bleach, then, that’s not my idea of a good time!
This post will show you everything you need to know to add a raw wood finish to any home decor using just latex paint and clear glaze.
Is There a Paint That Looks Like Natural Wood Furniture?
Natural wood grain is multi-dimensional so one shade of paint isn’t going to give you the look of a natural-looking wood finish. However, by applying a base coat and going over it with a brown glaze, we can get the look of wood grain. At the end of this tutorial, I also show you how to dry brush on white paint to get that vintage bleached look.
Supplies Needed Painting Furniture to Look Like Natural Wood Furniture
Brushes: I like this set because it gives you quality, low-cost brushes in a few different sizes: Great Brushes for Furniture Painting
Sander and Sanding Pads: This is my favorite low-cost detail sander and it comes with pads: Black and Decker Electric Sander If you aren’t sure about whether to purchase one, check out this post: How to Sand Furniture in Less Than 5 Minutes
Sherwin Williams Flax Seed in Satin
Clear Mixing Glaze – You can find my favorite glaze here: Valpar Clear Mixing Glaze
Sherwin Williams Van Dyke Brown in Satin
Huggies Natural Care Wipes – Some wipes have chemicals that will remove the base coat, but I KNOW that this brand works well for our faux natural wood finishes.
Sherwin Williams Pure White in Satin or Flat (Sample container) *
Painter’s Tape* – My favorite painter’s tape is this version: Yellow Frog Tape
Varathane Waterbased Polyurethane in Matte * – This clear coat will give you a beautiful flat finish: Varathane Waterbased Polyurethane Top Coat in Matte Its a better option than any oil-based top coat and is so much easier to use than clear furniture wax. I’ve used it on all my own furniture with great results.
FREE Must-Have Painting Tips for Furniture – This free checklist is available in my resource library. Get access to it and all my other free printables, templates, and wall art by clicking here.
How to Create a Natural Wood Finish With Latex Paint
You can also see the video with this post to show you the best picture-hanging hacks and how to hang up an art rail for a farmhouse look. The video will appear as a pop-up but if you have trouble seeing it, you can see the YouTube version at the end of this post.
Step 1: Lightly Sand Your Furniture Piece
Stop! Don’t forget to take a pic. When you are done, post the pic on Instagram and tag me @renovatedfaith! ❤️
If your furniture piece is stained or painted wood, go over the surface with your sander and a fine sanding pad (220 or higher) as I demonstrate in the video. If you don’t have a sander you can also use steel wool.
The primary purpose is just to smooth out the old finish unless you want more of a rustic look with irregularities. YOu can read my post here for tips: How to Sand Furniture in Less Than 5 Minutes.
If your piece is laminate, sand with a rougher sanding pad (80 or lower) to make the surface layer less slick so that the primer can adhere well.
Renovated Faith: What’s In a Name?
So many of my DIY projects remind me of God’s capacity to transform our brokenness and renew our hearts. If you are a work-in-progress, just like I am, check out the Renovate Your Faith Devotional at the bottom of each DIY and home décor post. Click here to get a weekly reminder of new posts by adding your email address.
Step 2: To Get A Natural Wood Finish, Prime First
Before you get started, you want to be sure to prime the existing surface with Zinsser Cover Stain. (Use this even if you are painting on raw wood because otherwise the glaze will soak into the wood too easily making it hard to work with…ask me how I know!)
You can use this process on any material including painted wood, stained wood, wood products like laminate or even metal. But we want to make sure our new raw wood finish adheres well to the existing surface.
Brush the primer on in the direction of the natural grain of the wood. Since we don’t have an actual wood grain, brush in the direction of the longest edge. The brush strokes will resemble the raised surface of wood grain. (If your piece is laminate or metal, it won’t have a true wood grain, so brush along parallel to the longest edge.)
Let this coat dry for 4 hours before adding the base coat.
Step 3: How to Paint a Natural Wood Color Base Coat
Brush on a thick coat of the base coat (Sherwin Williams Flax Seed) in the direction of the grain. If it doesn’t completely cover and a little of the primer seeps through, that’s completely fine. That will add to the final look of our raw wood finish and you shouldn’t need a second coat.
COST-SAVING TIP: Lowe’s carries their own line of Sherwin Williams paint and they also have sample pints of most of the paint brands. That’s why I get one or two sample containers because it is so much cheaper than the paint at a Sherwin Williams store.
Also, I’m not sure if Sherwin Williams has sample sizes. (If you’re already at Home Depot, they should have the code for SW Flax Seed in their computer system.)
Let the base coat dry overnight.
Step 4: Tape Off Portions To Make Painting The Natural Wood Finish Easier (Optional)
After doing a few pieces of furniture in the finish, I found a way to make this finish look even more efficient. Our next step will be the glaze but if we try to glaze adjacent parts of the furniture piece, we will accidentally touch other glazed parts that are still wet.
For that reason, I used this painter’s tape to prevent glaze from getting on other parts of the furniture. I recommend taping it so you can do the top and bottom shelves first. (I spend more time explaining this in the video. )Then after 30 minutes, the glaze will be dry enough to take off the tape and tape the rest.
Step 5: How to Paint a Natural Wood Color with Glaze
To make our glaze mixture, we will need a sample container of Sherwin Williams Van Dyke Brown in Satin from Lowe’s, Valspar’s Clear Mixing Glaze, and water. Mix the following:
Natural Wood Finish Glaze Mixture
- 1 Part Water
- 2 Parts Valspar’s Clear Mixing Glaze
- 2 Heaping Parts SW Van Dyke Brown.
After mixing the glaze mixture, use your brush to wipe a coat onto one surface. Do one surface or section at a time. Right now, you are just trying to get the paint on that section and cover it. It doesn’t even matter what direction you brush on the glaze at this point.
Once you have painted the glaze mixture onto the surface you are currently working on, take your Huggies Natural Wipes and fold it over until you have a small square.
Now you are going to wipe in the direction of the grain back and forth. Use one wipe per section (in other words, don’t just keep getting new wipes or you’ll wipe off too much.)
As you can see in the video, keep wiping back and forth with your same wipe. You will be amazed to see the look of raw wood grains peak through the glaze!
Do the above glaze step to one surface at a time. In other words, don’t brush on the glaze over the whole piece and then try to wipe it all off at once. Wipe the glaze on a drawer face, wipe it off with the wipe and then go on to the next drawer and so forth.
After 30 minutes, your glaze will be dry enough to retape the rest of the flat surfaces of your furniture piece and glaze/wipe them.
Let the glaze dry overnight.
Step 6: Dry Brush With White For A Bleached Wood Finish (Optional)
If you want your finish to have an aged, whitewashed look, you’ll want to do this easy step. Mix a little SW Pure White with an equal ratio of the Valspar Clear Mixing Glaze.
COST-SAVING TIP: Any white or off-white latex paint will work in case you already have some on hand!
Practice this step on a piece of cardboard before you apply this to your furniture piece. What works best is to do just a little bit of paint at a time on your brush which takes longer but you have more control of the final look.
Dab a tiny amount of the white paint/glaze mixture on your brush. Now take a paper plate (a bright plate works best) and wipe off as much of the paint as you can. Your brush will seem dry.
Now, brush back and forth in the direction of the grain as I do in the video. The white paint will be subtle but you will keep brushing back and forth to get the whitewashed look you want.
Step 7: Protect Your Natural Wood Finish
The final step is to add a clear coat to the top of this raw finish to seal in all your hard work and to protect it so it looks great for years to come.
My favorite clear coat after lots of testing is Varathane’s Waterbased Polyurethane (click here for the current price) because of it’s durability, ease of use, and ability to provide a smooth finish. I highly recommend the matte finish because it’s the best finish to simulate raw wood.
I love this clear coat because it is great at sealing raw wood and painted pieces while still maintaining a flat sheen.
Apply your first coat of clear coat in long strokes with your new faux wood grain. To see how I apply this protective coat with a foam brush, click here: The Best Clear Coat for Furniture
The back of the can might say to sand in between coats but don’t do this because you might ruin your faux finish. Apply two or three thin coats with about 30 minutes to an hour of dry time in between. Let the final coat completely dry overnight before touching it.
Now that your clear coat is dry, you can enjoy your gorgeous raw wood finish! Isn’t it beautiful?!?
I love how it looks like a vintage piece that has stood the test of time. Who knew latex paint could make such a great raw wood finish?!?
RENOVATE YOUR FAITH: Recognizing The Voice of God vs. Your Inner Critic
I’ve been a Christian for the vast majority of my life. I was brought up in church, and even attended seminary after college so that I could work in full-time church ministry.
I’ve known about his love for me from a young age. But now I’m beginning to see with new eyes what it truly means that He loves me. So often, I try to use human characteristics to parse God’s love for me and then my view of His love becomes distorted. Because God’s love isn’t earthly at all!
The parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15 has been on my mind as I’m trying to grasp God’s love for me from His perspective, not just from my human, American worldview.
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Sheep don’t have many responsibilities and their job isn’t very difficult – they eat grass and move with the flock.
I’d be willing to bet that the absolute worst thing a sheep can do is wander off.
If you were the lost sheep, how would you expect the shepherd to react when finding you?
But notice that upon finding the sheep on it’s worst day, when it was most disobedient, Jesus rejoices in finding you. The Good Shepherd doesn’t pull a rope tight around your neck, scold you and pull you back the flock while grumbling.
The Good Shepherd’s reaction is the total opposite. His eyes light up upon seeing you and a big grin appears on His face. He scoops you up in His gentle arms and rejoices to neighbors that His precious lost sheep is found!
I’ve come to realize my inner critic is very loud – often berating. Sometimes I assume that Christ would act in the same way I would in a circumstance. At times I think I get the voice of my inner critic and God’s voice confused.
My inner critic says to me on my worst day, “You’ve done it this time. You have really screwed this up. You will have to be extra good to get in the Shepherd’s good graces again!”
But fortunately, God’s voice and the voice of my inner critic are very different. God loves me unconditionally and not in human terms of work and reward. His grace has already covered my every sin on the cross and Holy Spirit permanently resides in me.
When we let the voice of our inner critic be the prevailing voice in our head, sometimes we assume that the Lord’s voice sounds similar. But God’s voice is never one of exasperation and scorn.
Thankfully God’s ways are not our ways. You have His full attention and even on your worst days you are the apple of His eye. You are precious to Him, created in His own image. You are fearfully and wonderfully made and preciously held even now by your Good Shephard. He loving refers to you as His Beloved.
Don’t let your inner critic tell you otherwise.
For more spiritual encouragement, click here for the rest of my project posts that also include Renovate Your Faith devotionals.
FREE Must-Have Painting Tips for Furniture
Here’s where you can get my best tips for saving time and money on furniture painting, while getting a beautiful finish every time! Get the password for the library with all of my free printables including wall art, checklists, and templates by filling out this short form:
How To Paint a Metal or Fiberglass Door to Look Like Wood
Did you know you can use any faux stain on a metal or fiberglass door to make it look like its made out of real hardwood? To see how I painted my metal back door, click here: The Easy Way To Paint Any Metal Door To Look Like Wood
FAQ’s: How to Get a Raw Wood Finish On Furniture
What decor goes with a raw wood Look finish?
Any style including industrial farmhouse, coastal, and modern decor work well for furniture with a raw wood finish.
How to Seal Raw Wood without Changing the Color?
If you are looking for a raw wood sealer that won’t darken wood, the Varathane water-based polyurethane in matte works really well. It might make the grain slightly more contrasty but it will not make it darker. My experience is that it just give the existing surface more character. If your clear coat makes the natural appearance of the wood too dark, you can always dry brush over the protective layer of clear coat with a little bit of white paint just like we did in the last step. This will slightly lighten the appearance of the wood and give you a slightly aged, vintage look.
This is the perfect topcoat if you are wanting to get a matte finish on wood and you can find it here: Varathane Waterbased Polyurethane in Matte
What is the best oil for a natural wood finish?
There are several oils to protect a natural wood finish by filling in the pores to protect the unfinished wood surface. Natural oils to protect the surface of raw wood furniture are coconut oil, danish oil, linseed oil, teak oil, and walnut oil. Pure tung oil is also used but it can be a more expensive option. Apply the oil with a natural bristle brush in the direction of the grain. Oil finishes have to be maintained periodically and therefore aren’t quick as durable as some clear coats. For soft woods or old finishes of antiques, I would recommend a good clear like Varathane Water-Based Clear Coat. After testing several top coats, this is the one that came out on top in every test! Also, it has zero VOCs so it won’t cause any environmental damage.
Why Not Use a Natural Wood Stain To Get The Look of a Natural Wood Furniture Finish?
A natural wood stain works grain on raw wood furniture as it is designed to soak into the wood fiber cell and that pigment gives stained wood it’s color. But the wood fibers of already-painted wooden furniture are already covered and can’t absorb that stain. So, traditional wood stains don’t work on painted furniture. The best way to stain painted furniture is to do a faux finish on the surface of the wood.
Is there a natural wood color paint for Furniture?
There’s no such thing as a natural wood paint to give you a natural finish on antique furniture. To paint natural wood color, you need more than one solid color to match the natural color of the wood. My natural faux finish has a base coat and then a glaze coat over the top that is semi-transparent. The glaze coat is painted all in one direction to replicate a natural wood furniture finish.
What is the Best Paint for Furniture?
After testing 24 brands of furniture paint (both oil-based products and water-based products), the best choice was Benjamin Moore Advance. You can see how the rest of the paints performed here: The Best Paint for Furniture (Results of Blind-Testing 24 Brands)
You’ll notice in this post I’m using sample containers at Lowe’s. These paints are the best option for this project since they are more cost-effective. And the good news is that adding the clear coat gives the extra durability these faux natural finishes need while also sealing in your hard work.
Can this Raw Wood Look Finish be Used on Other surfaces?
In addition to wood projects, you can also use this finish on concrete floors, and hardwood floors. However, to get the best results, make sure you use the right clear coat for your application to give you the extra layer of protection.
More Posts Related to a DIY Raw Wood Finish
The Absolute Best Furniture Paint (24 Brands Blind-Tested & Reviewed)
How to Paint Laminate Furniture to Look Like Wood
How to Get the Musty Smell Out of Wood Furniture with a Few Simple Steps
Easy Furniture Repair For Scratches and Water Damage on Furniture
Best Tips to Hang Gallery Wall Art Easily
The Best Power Tools for Beginners
How to Build a Farmhouse Dining Room Table
How Do You Make Paint Look Like Wood Stain? (7 Stain Shades to Pick From!)
How to Paint and Stain Laminate Furniture (In A Few Easy Steps)
EASIEST Gel Stain Over Stain Technique (How to Gel Stain Over Paint!)
EASY DIY Picture Hanging Rail (The Low-Cost, Hassle-Free Method)
12 Free Blue Botanical Prints (FREE PRINTABLES)
How to Paint Over Furniture With An Old Stain (Coming Soon)
How to Paint Furniture to Look Like Natural Wood Furniture: YouTube Video Tutorial
Final Thoughts How To Paint furniture to look like Natural wood Stain
Don’t forget to download your Must-Have Painting Tips to help any painting process go smoother. You can get them and access to all the free printables in my library by adding your email to the form above.
This step-by-step tutorial gives you an easy way to get a raw wood finish without the use of a furniture stripper or bleach. I absolutely love this finish and it amazes me that even laminate furniture can look like vintage raw pine. With this process, you won’t only love the results but you’ll have fun during the process too!
I love to hear your thoughts and questions! Scroll down to leave a comment and I WILL reply! ❤️
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Faux Raw Wood Finish: Painting FUrniture to Look Like Natural Wood Furniture
Welcome to Renovated Faith, where I share about DIY projects, my faith and everything in between! When I’m not spending time with my family, you will find me redoing furniture in the garage or watering plants in my greenhouse. This blog is about transformation. Anyone can renovate a house but only God can transform our hearts!
It looks beautiful but how did you get the lines on top ?
If I need to redo my piece because I am not happy with how the glaze came out, do you think that it would be best for me to sand the entire piece and then reapply a light coat of paint all over first – before attempting to apply the glaze mixture again? Would it be best for me to put a new coat of primer on first too?
If you decide to redo it, you are fine with restarting with the base coat. You don’t need to re-prime. BUT BEFORE YOU START OVER, give the drybrushing with white a try. I wasn’t crazy about mine until I started the drybrushing and it lightened it up a lot and made it look more authentic. Let me know if you have any other questions Stephanie!
Love, love, love how it turned out. You have true talent. I would like to do the same with my laminate furniture, but in a gray tone. What colors would you recommend to achieve the same look but in gray? Thank you in advance.
Hi Karin, I can’t seem to find the sherman williams paint colors. Do you have other colors you recommend?
So happy to have found your blog. Do you think this method would work for kitchen cabinets? I have builder grade cabinets and the are a shiny reddish brown color. And they are in terrible shape.
Hey Felicita! Thank you so much for your kind words! I think it will work with cabinets but I would experiment with a piece of wood first just to feel comfortable with the technique. I was going to say that doing this to kitchen cabinets would be a lot of work but honestly if you were to paint them a solid color, you’d have to do several coats and that would be a lot of work too. So yes, I feel confident it would be a durable finish on kitchen cabinets – just make sure you use the clear coat I recommend in the post for extra protection. Thanks and let me know if you have ANY other questions! – Blessings, Karin
I love this look and dared to try it today on some tables I have. Problem I ran into as I was wiping the glaze mixture off with the wipes: the Flaxseed paint started to peel up in some places. I sanded the tables and applied the primer as you said before painting. Any idea what would have caused this?
If I want to try again, what would recommend? Can I repaint it and try reapplying the glaze mixture?
So sorry to hear this Stephanie. So glad to hear you used this primer. Has it been humid in your area by chance. Was the primer peeling too or just the paint? If the primer was peeling with the paint, sand the surface a little more. If the paint was peeling off the primer, try a thinner coat of paint (its ok if it doesn’t cover completely) and let the paint dry overnight and 48 hours if you have a lot of humidity. Please let me know if this doesn’t work and feel free to also contact me by email – email@example.com. Last, when I wipe with the wipes, I am barely grazing the surface so don’t wipe hard. Let me know if you have any other questions Stephanie! – Blessings, Karin
Just starting to venture in to painting furniture. My bedroom set is 33 years old and is still in great shape but outdated and I need a change. You have given me the encouragement to give this finish a shot it is exactly what I am looking for. Thank you!
Hey Tracey, So glad to hear you are getting started with furniture painting. I love it because it’s relaxing and I get “new” furniture for just the price of paint. Please let me know if I can help you at any point along the way! Thanks! – Karin
Is there an equivalent product for the mixing glaze that can be found at the Home Depot? I’m in love with this look but my furniture is laminate and can’t buy new at this point so I’d love to try this technique. Thank you in advance!
Hey Brandi, They don’t have anything that I’m aware of. I tried a few different glazes on Amazon and I like the Valspar glaze the best! Thank you!!!
Awesome! Thanks for your response!
Thanks for the great post. I have been searching for an easier way to get this look.I also appreciate how you integrate your faith into this hobby. When I work on a piece and transform it, I am reminded how God does this for us.
Had a couple Questions: 1. what sheen are the latex paints you used? 2. Will the finish hold up to something like a coffee table which we used pretty heavily?
Hey Vicki, Thank you so much for your encouragement and I can totally relate to thinking about how God is in the process of renovating us also. I use all satin sheens and if you use it on a coffee table, I’d use a clear coat. I love Varathane’s Waterbased polyurethane. I like the matte finish for the raw wood faux stain and you can find it at Home Depot. Thanks Vicki! Blessings, Karin
Thank you for this in-depth post. Definitely pinning so I can refer back to it. Your table is amazing.
thanks so much how awesome
You are so welcome Naomi! Thanks for your sweet comment.