Creating A Faux Wood Finish Antique

How to use a combination of simple painting and staining techniques to produce a faux finish that is antique in appearance.

The process of antiquing a wood surface is both simple and versatile. It can be used to give a variety of appearances from the "˜old world' look, to the rustic look, to and ultra-modern finish. Best of all, the surface preparation is simple and virtually any wood surface can be antiqued if it is in fairly good condition, regardless if it is a bare wood or previously finished surface. In this article we will look at three types of antique finishes: textured natural, stain-on-paint, paint-on-paint.

There are four simple steps necessary in order to produce an antique finish on a surface. These are: (1) surface preparation, (2) surface undercoating, (3) antique texture application, (4) surface sealing. In

this article we will look at each of these steps while examining a few options for undercoating and texture application so that you can produce the finished product you desire.

To prepare the wood surface you will need some medium to fine sandpaper and some fine mesh steel wool. You can go to your local hardware store and ask a salesperson for assistance. It is very important that you not use sandpaper or steel wool that is too coarse because it may cause damage to the surface. Unless you are going for a true rustic look in your piece, you will probably want the surface to be reasonably free from imperfections.

For bare wood or for a surface that has visible run lines, drip marks, or bumps caused by the collection of dust in the dried paint or surface finish you will want to use sandpaper. Be sure to sand along the grain of the wood if it is bare or visible through the existing finish. Do not sand across the grain or in random directions because this will cut tiny grooves in your surface that may become more pronounced when your work is completed. Continue sanding until the surface is fairly smooth and reasonably free of imperfections. Be certain to remove the dust from the surface with a dust brush (an old paint brush works well for this application) or with a dry, lint-free cloth.

If the surface has been previously finished with a clear sealant lacquer (such as shellac or varnish) you may choose to use steel wool to prepare the surface. Try to select a well-woven brand that does not come untangled easily. Steel wool is also good to use on very irregular surfaces such as turned chair legs and bedposts, and on bare soft wood surfaces such as balsa or white pine. You may want to wear protective gloves to protect your fingers from the steel fibers. Follow the same procedure as you would for preparing the surface using sandpaper, but be sure to check for steel wool fibers in your work before proceeding to the next step.

In the second step you will apply a surface undercoat. There are several ways in which you may do this depending upon the type of existing surface finish you have and the type of finish you want. For a natural or stained wood base you will need to apply a clear lacquer finish. If you want to stain an unfinished surface, be sure to do so before applying the lacquer undercoat. There are a number of lacquers available that are suitable for this purpose and some are now made with water-soluble bases that allow for clean-up without the use of mineral spirits. When applying lacquer to a surface it is best to use a brush and it is important to take all strokes in the same direction to produce an evenly finished surface. Try not to "˜go over' your work too much when applying a lacquer finish because it will become sticky very quickly. If you do find errors in your lacquer work you will need to let the surface dry completely, then use some fine mesh steel wool to buff out the imperfection.

Another undercoat option is a painted surface. It is generally a good idea to apply a coat of flat paint as a primer to prevent peeling after subsequent coats are applied. As with the lacquer, you will probably find the most success using a brush to apply the paint. Once the flat primer layer dries your surface will be ready to receive the semi-gloss paint undercoat. Apply this coat of paint in the same manner as you would a lacquer finish. Also, when applying a paint undercoat be sure that the entire surface is covered completely, otherwise you may need to repaint the entire surface because semi-gloss paint enhances imperfections and does not touch-up well.

Now your surface is ready for the texture application. It is very important that you have allowed ample drying time for the undercoat before proceeding to this step. Check the manufacturer's recommendations for drying time, or allow at least 24 hours.

There are several textures that you may apply over your base coat of paint or lacquer depending upon the effect you want to achieve. We will briefly describe the splatter, streak, and spray textures. These textures may be produced individually, in combination with one another, or with other texture schemes.

To produce a splatter texture you simply dip a brush or stick into the appropriate color of paint or stain and shake or fling it onto the surface. Be sure that the paint or stain is well mixed before using it for this procedure. You can produce a number of patterns depending upon the size of the brush or stick you use and on the angle you shake the paint or stain onto the surface. To prevent the texture from running you will want to keep the surface level. This may require you to remove certain parts of the piece (arms, legs, posts, etc.) to do them separately. Try to maintain an even application of the texture to achieve the effect you want. The texture should be applied to add an accent to the piece and should not overpower or dominate the finish. To prevent over-application of the texture begin with a fairly dry brush or stick and add paint or stain only as necessary.

The streak texture is most commonly produced by applying stain to a painted surface. This gives the piece a kind of "˜old world' look that is appealing to many. To produce this texture you may use a brush or lint-free cloth and a small amount of wood stain. The most common streak texture runs in one direction, however, you can produce swirls or other patterns if you like. Unlike the splatter method, if you accidentally apply too much stain you can simply wipe most of the excess off with a rag. However, it is best to start out sparingly and add stain as needed. Also, be careful not to rub too hard on a semigloss paint surface or you may rub some of the finish off.

As the name implies, the spray texture is created by using a sprayer. Unless you are somewhat skilled with the use of a power sprayer, you should probably use a pump-type spray bottle to apply this texture. Try to find one with an adjustable nozzle so that you can control the density of the mist. If you are applying a latex paint texture you can use a common plastic spray bottle, but if your texture contains mineral spirits you will need to select a spray bottle that is safe for use with petroleum-based solvents.

As with the splatter method you will want to keep your surface flat and level to avoid runs. Also, as with the other two methods we have discussed, apply the mist sparingly and gradually increase the density. Use a separate test surface to adjust the mist density before applying the texture to your piece.

Finally, it is time to apply the finish coat to protect your work. Be absolutely certain that all areas of your work are completely dry and free of debris before proceeding to this final step! A clear varnish is usually best for the finish coat because it is not excessively thick and it does not yellow with age. Apply this coat in the same manner described for the lacquer undercoat; however, do not sand or buff the surface before application. Once the varnish has dried (usually 24 - 48 hours) you may apply a second coat if necessary. If you apply more than one coat of varnish you may lightly use steel wool to remove surface imperfections but be careful not to rub through to the texture and undercoat. To achieve a semi-polished finish, apply a minimum of two coats of varnish and use steel wool to rub the finish smooth.

You may also apply one or more very fine coats of paste wax using a lint-free cloth. Be sure to spread the wax evenly and gently use steel wool smoothly between coats. With a bit of practice you will be able to produce your own professional-looking custom finishes.

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