How to Paint Metal Doors to Have a Woodgrain Look


Many apartment buildings and some homes install metal doors as a fire-safety precaution. Although these doors may not be as attractive as other options, they can easily be painted to fit the rest of your decor. Faux painting techniques will allow you to match existing surfaces or give one substance the look of another. Faux wood is a natural option, and can be achieved using some common tools and a simple technique.

Things You'll Need

  • Primer
  • Sponge roller
  • Paint pan
  • 3 inch flat paintbrush
  • Tan latex paint in satin finish
  • Sandpaper
  • Water-based glazing medium
  • Tints in raw sienna, burnt umber and raw umber
  • Graining comb, wide stiff brush, steel wool or burlap piece
  • Clean rags
  • Window cleaner, optional
  • Prime the doors with a primer specially formulated for use on metal. Apply primer with a smooth sponge roller or brush it on in a vertical direction with a wide, flat paintbrush. Brush out any drips or obvious roller lap marks before they have a chance to dry. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly, according to the manufacturer's specifications.

  • Apply two even coats of tan latex base coat, letting the doors dry between coats. Roll on or brush on paint following the direction of the future wood grain. Lightly sand the doors to create a smooth surface. Wipe the doors with a clean, damp cloth to remove dust and hairs.

  • Mix a glaze from the water-based glazing medium and the tints. Start by only adding a few drops of tint because they are very concentrated. Add different shades of brown to create the desired glaze color.

  • Apply glaze in an even vertical strip, from the top of the door to the bottom. Work from left to right in approximately 6 inch sections. Drag through the glaze with a graining comb, a stiff flat brush, a pad of steel wool or a square of burlap to create the texture of wood grain. Begin at the top and pull down in a single continuous motion. Attempt to make a straight line, but allow any inevitable fluctuations to create the natural waviness of wood grain. Blend or soften the grain by dragging through the same area a second time.

  • Apply a second strip of glaze next to the first one. Drag through the part of the first strip that was not grained yet and some of the second strip. Follow the process you used on the first part, using the same graining tools. Wipe the tools off as necessary. Apply a faux wood grain finish to an entire door before beginning the next one. Wipe glaze off the sides of the door with a damp rag. If the glaze has dried, spray a small amount of window cleaner on your rag.

Tips & Warnings

  • To create the look of realistic planks of wood, tape off strips of the door and glaze alternating planks.

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  • Photo Credit Wood door image by Dumitrescu Ciprian from
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