You’ve seen those gorgeous wooden garage doors around your neighborhood, proudly displaying natural wood grain that comes from mahogany, cherry or walnut. If your door is anything less — you don’t have to live with it. In just one afternoon, you can transform plain steel garage doors into works of art with a faux wood grain. From the street, you’ll never know it’s not real wood.
The first secret lies in brush strokes that appear like wood grain, allowing the brush to impart the grain of the wood as you paint. The second secret is to follow the natural horizontal and vertical patterns in wood.
Prepare the surface
Get started by cleaning the door thoroughly with soap and water using a stiff brush. Get everything off and allow it to dry.
Do I need a primer?
If the door has been previously painted, you don’t need to prime it. If the door is new, or has not been previously painted, paint the entire door with a primer designed for exterior use. When the primer is dry, tape off all the vertical panels using masking tape so that all the horizontal pieces are left exposed. If you’re not sure how it should look, check out a raised-panel cabinet door and use it for reference to tape everything off.
Painting the horizontal panels
Start off using 100% acrylic latex paint designed for exterior use on metal. Use two different-colored layers for the best wood-grain affect. You can paint the door with a single coat, but using two layers makes the grain jump out better. For two layers, start with a cream or tan color. Dip the brush into the paint and drag the brush over the exposed panels. Allow the brush to make lines, don’t make them perfectly straight; allow them to imitate wood grain. Paint all the horizontal panels.
Applying the second coat of painting
When the first coat is dry, use the same technique to apply a second coat of cherry, mahogany or walnut, dragging the brush over the panels to create the wood grain effect, allowing streaks or lines from the first coat to show through. Check your progress by standing back. Reapply the dark color to fill in any areas that are not consistent.
Painting the vertical panels
When you’re satisfied with the results, remove the tape and paint the vertical sections of the door, you can do this without taping off the panels, a bit of overlapping around the vertical and horizontal joints shouldn’t be a problem if you take your time.
Test your skills first
Don’t be intimidated by the task. If you’re unsure of your artistic ability, run a few test pieces on scrap wood or on the inside of the door where you can’t see it. Combine some colors that you like, using some different brushes. The stiffer the brush the more grain patterns it will produce. Try some wider brushes combined with a few smaller ones until you get the combination of colors and brushes that work for you.
Other precautions before painting the door include outside temperature. Don’t paint the door unless it’s at least 60 degrees outside. If the sun is blazing and it’s hot, do the work in the morning or evening – and have fun.