Making a faux wood grain table top is easier than you think using this simple paint technique. No stripping or staining required – in fact this look is achieved with chalk paint and antiquing wax.

livingroom photo with faux wood grain table top

I first learned of this technique a couple of years ago and tried this it on an old vintage end table that I picked up from the Facebook Marketplace. It was such a simple technique and the table still looks like the day I finished it.

This little table sits on the end of our sofa and fits perfectly in this space. There are no scratches or stains as it has held up really well. To look at it you would never know the top is a faux wood grain painting technique.

livingroom picture showing table from a distance

Recently I picked up two chalk painted end tables to refinish for my vintage booth. There were a few marks on the table tops so I knew this method would be the perfect solution since matching the chalk paint color may have been challenging. Here’s one of the tables before I started to refinish the top.

white chalk painted end table

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The Supplies:

The Process:

The beauty of chalk paint is that it requires very little prep. You want to make sure the furniture piece is clean but other than that you can go right in with your first coat without sanding or priming UNLESS its a darker older piece that may bleed through the chalk paint. The old cherry and dark mahogany pieces often do. For these types of furniture I use 2 coats of B-I-N Shellac Primer first, let dry completely, lightly sand then go in with my first coat of chalk paint. Often chalk paint requires 2 – 3 coats but luckily it dries fast.

Antiquing Wax

Once the piece (or pieces in this case since I have matching end tables) have dried, I use frog tape to tape off the top to avoid getting the antiquing wax on the piece.

white table with frog tape

Next I take Valspar Antiquing Wax and give it a good stir. Then using an inexpensive chip brush I begin apply the antiquing wax to the top of the table. I find this wax so easy to work with because it allows plenty of time to apply the wax and get the strokes in the direction you want them. In other words it doesn’t dry very fast so its easy to manipulate.

paint brush applying antiquing wax

As you can see when you apply the wax the white chalk paint shows through the brush strokes. This gives the appearance of faux wood grain. I have yet to try a different chalk paint color however, a gray or mustard yellow base may be equally appealing.

faux wood grain table top with 1 coat of valspar antiquing wax

You will want your brush strokes heading in the same direction so it mimics the grain of wood but don’t worry, you have time get it right. After the first coat you have a light finish (pictured below). You can stop there or add more coats using the same techniques.

table with just one coat of antiquing wax.

After the first coat let it dry for at least 2 hours. Once fully dry you can go in with your second coat, same application process. You will see below how much darker the finish is with two coats.

two table with two coats of antiquing wax.

Let the faux wood grain finish dry overnight and then add a coat of polyurethane to protect the finish. And thats it! no sanding, no multiple applications of several different paints – very straightforward! We like that, yes? For these end tables I decided to switch out the drawer knobs. I love these little wired flower knobs that were left over from my No Rod – Drop Cloth Curtains.

two side tables with faux wood tops.

And off to the booth at Off The Common Antiques where I hope one happy customer finds a home for these faux wood grain tables.

Pin it for later!

pinterest pin for this project.

Thanks for visiting the blog today. I love sharing How to Make a Faux Wood Grain Table Top with you! I delivered them to the booth along with this fun DIY dog bed!

my signature, a drawing of me holding a cup of coffee.

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  1. Hi, love this! But I thought we couldn’t use polyurethane over wax? Could you please advise? I started to chalk paint my dinner table, but bought rustoleum dark wax, hoping I ll manage to create a similar effect, and cant find your recommended poly. Can any polyurethane be used over wax?

    1. Hello! I have heard folks say that however, I have never had an issue when using polyacrylic over the Valspar antiquing wax. In this application Im using the wax to create a wood grain, typically wax IS my top coat. Valspar’s antiquing wax is very unique and acts a lot like a gel stain. Very different than say Annie Sloan’s wax. This could be the reason the poly works over it. Good luck! Happy creating!

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