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Want Faux Wood Grain? Use PolyShades Over Stain

Last night, one of my regular customers came to The Paint Pit and said she wanted to finish her new, unfinished wood cabinets in a look similar to her existing wood flooring.


Upon inspection of her flooring sample, she actually needed two colors to recreate the look ... a base coat which was red/brown stain, and a second coat that was dark brown/black but streakable.


She brought several sample pieces of Maple (similar to the wood on her new cabinets) and we selected products and made the take home samples shown below to help her choose.

1) The first step was to recreate an even coat of base color.


We selected Minwax Wood Finish English Chestnut oil-based stain, applied an even coat to the entire wood sample, and then wiped the excess off in two-minutes with a terry towel.


This left a red-brown base color that looked very similar to the base color in her sample.


2) The next step was to choose a product that would be darker, show through like semi-transparent, and could be manipulated with a brush to recreate the wood grain look from her sample.


Minwax Wood Finish stains were too runny to brush into streaks and paint would cover the base color completely.


In the end, Minwax PolyShades gave us good colors for our project as well as the semi-transparent show through we sought ... and worked particularly well to make a beautiful faux wood grain, because the stain and polyurethane combination allows you to "stretch" a very small amount out into faux wood grain.


3) Leaving the only question we needed to answer, "Which color combination would work best?"


We chose three colors: Classic Black, Mission Oak, and Bombay Mahogany and used all three over the base color.


The samples turned out beautifully and gave her a great example to try in the lighting in her home.


4) Finally, when she executes the full project, she expects to use a satin clear coat to protect her handywork.


If we're lucky, she'll share her finished cabinets with us here on the Community.

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Posted 2011-07-19T17:12:41+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL Pat_HD_ATL
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Posted 2015-06-09T17:41:42+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL



Thanks for sharing this great staining technique.


Both of the products that you used in this post are my favorite to use in my shop. All though I have never used them over one another. I love the look that it gives.


I'm going to have to figure out a project to make just so I can try it. :smileyvery-happy:


I can't wait to see her cabinets once she finishes them.


Thanks again for the great idea. 

Posted 2011-07-20T14:37:16+0000  by Christine_HD_OC

I am going to redo a drum kit I have and I wanted to stain the shells with Minwax Classic Black. After seeing this I think I am going to try to stain them first with the same base coat and them with Classic Black stain. I loved it they way the samples came out. After, I wanted to fiinish mine with Minwax Satin Laquer. What do you think, any ideas or advice? Thanks

Posted 2012-04-20T21:23:30+0000  by rtmax1974


I have on several occasions recommended Minwax PolyShades to be used as a graining glaze/finish. I am not a big fan of the cheap chip brushes, but their course bristles are useful in giving the striated grain appearance. A thin coat of PolyShades can be brushed on and then dragged over with a dry chip brush. If too heavy a coat of PolyShades is used, it tends to flow out and lose the striated look.


On several occasions, I have simply taken the Behr color cards and painted them with the PolyShades in order to approximate the look that can be obtained. The striation works better over a flat paint as it helps maintain the striation rather than flowing out evenly, as it is more likely to do over a glossy surface.


The more heavily pigmented Bombay Mahogany and Black seem to do better when obtaining the grained look.

Posted 2012-04-21T00:09:17+0000  by ordjen

Hey RTMax!


The original question required a creative solution, combining products to create an appearance not attainable with either product on its own.


Your project takes the creative process a step further ... and I really love the idea!!!


The dimension and shape of your project will require long, flowing strokes to stretch out the classic black into a grainy look. Before beginning with the classic black, move your drum kit into several different positions to see which will allow you to make those flowing strokes in a relatively straight line.


The key to attaining the grainy look is to allow the base coat to completely dry, then apply a very small amount of classic black and stretch it until it breaks into individual lines of faux grain. Then start on the next spot barely overlapping the first column of faux grain. These should dry completely (about six-hours) before re-touching the surface.


Your Clear Satin Polyurethane should be sprayed in two light coats about six-hours apart and buff sand with 220-grit sandpaper between coats. If you want a shiny finish you also have semi-gloss and gloss available.


Creative projects, like yours, are so personal because they make a "one of a kind" finish that often WOWs others.


Have fun with the Drum Kit project and be certain to come back and share photos ... or a video!?!


Looking forward to it!!!

Posted 2012-04-24T12:30:31+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL

 I would be very cautious about putting a true lacquer over a urethane coating, especially if that urethane had not thoroughly dried and cured. Lacquers have a very styrong solvent base which might eat into the urethane. I would certainly make a sample board before committing to the main project. The Minwax spray urethane should not present problems, but if in doubt, test first!


Another possible alternative when compatibility is in question: Zinssers Spray Shellac, which is de-waxed, is compatible with almost any finishing product. It can be used as a bonding agent because it will stick to any finish and almost any finish will stick to it.

Posted 2012-04-25T03:47:37+0000  by ordjen

Hello Again RTMax!


I didn't want you to have to worry over applying your product of choice, lacquer, over Polyshades, so I called Minwax Technical Support to verify the product combination for you.


According to the Minwax Technical Expert, thin layers of Polyshades dried for at least six-hours may still react with thin coats of Minwax Spray Lacquer. They prefer you use their spray polyurethane in the same sheen.


So, go ahead and make that finish we discussed on your drum kit using polyurethane instead of lacquer ... and be certain to follow-up and post a photo or video of the piece(s).


I can hardly wait to see the finished results!!!

Posted 2012-04-26T13:01:23+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL

Hi!  I would love your opinion on my project too!  I have a couple of nightstands that I want to refinish, to make them look contemporary (they have clean lines but they had like a glossy veneer finish that was in a bad shape.  I already primed and spraypainted them with Rustoleum satin espresso, but it doesn't  seem to be finished.  I would like to achieve a wood grain finish in espresso that looks smooth and modern, but not glossy.  What do you recomend?  I was thinking of applying Polyshades  on top of the paint and using the woodgraining tool?  I am open to suggestions, but the easier, the better!  Thanks a lot in advance!!!!

Posted 2013-11-22T21:22:29+0000  by RosaBeattriz

Hello RosaBeattrix!


I apologize for the delayed reply.


I prioritized the stores over the last two weeks in preparation for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.




You've launched into another creative application of faux ... using Polyshades instead of faux glaze!


Since your spray is oil-based and MinWax Polyshades is oil-based, you shouldn't have a problem applying one on top of the other ... as always, try an inconspicuous spot before executing the full project.


I absolutely love Martha's Faux Graining Tool.


And it should work magnificently with Polyshades.


Use the white foam roller to smooth a thin coat over the surface and then execute your grain strokes.


In an earlier thread, I produced a video that shows "How To" use this tool.


Click the link to have a look.

Posted 2013-12-03T17:12:43+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL
Other Community Members are making great examples of faux and furniture treatments:

Outstanding examples!
Posted 2015-12-03T17:48:00+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL
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