You may have seen the charcoal gray wood finish when searching for furniture on Wayfair, Amazon, or any of the furniture stores. These pieces have the grain of real wood and look like they’ve been stained with a dark gray stain. Well, today I’m going to show you how to re-create that look on any piece of furniture using paint and glaze.
Let’s say you have a table or a dresser that you would like to refinish in a modern gray but the thought of sanding it all down in order to stain it is just not something you want to do. Or, perhaps the intricate spindles on that piece of furniture would be too tedious to sand by hand and the likelihood of removing the old finish from the crevices in order to re-stain is slim.
You can duplicate the look of wood using paint. Even if your furniture is made of MDF or wood veneer.
Here’s the Rockport TV stand that my son purchased for his bedroom last year.
This TV stand is made of MDF with a thin layer of wood veneer that’s been stained charcoal gray. You can clearly see the wood grain. Notice the color variations of lights and darks.
- 80-grit Sandpaper
- General Finishes Driftwood Milk Paint
- Minwax Polycrylic Clear Satin
- General Finishes Pitch Black Glaze
- Purdy Clear Cut 1.5-inch paint brushes for paint and clear coat
- 1.5-inch inexpensive paint brushes for glazing
- Cotton rag (aka: t-shirts)
Step 1: Lightly Sand
If you’d like to create this look on your furniture begin by giving it a light sanding with some 80-grit sandpaper. No need to remove the old finish, just create a little “tooth” for the paint to grip.
Step 2: Paint
Then paint on 1 to 2 coats of General Finishes milk paint in the color Driftwood. Driftwood is a muddy, medium gray. If the paint seems too thick, you can thin it with a very small amount of water to make it more fluid.
You can see the Driftwood painted on a dresser HERE.
Step 3: Clear Coat
Wait at least 24 hours for the paint to fully dry and then brush one coat of Minwax Polycrylic in either satin or flat finish. The clear will create a slick surface for the glazing in the next step. Without the clear coat, it makes it more difficult to wipe off the glaze.
I forgot to take a photo after I painted with the gray paint. If you would like to see that color, you can see this same finish on the tall gray dress I refinished HERE.
Step 4: Glaze
Wait at least 3 hours for the clear coat to fully dry and then add the General Finishes Pitch Black glaze. To glaze a piece of furniture, brush on a small amount, then immediately use a clean, cotton folded rag to wipe the glaze off the furniture in long even swipes. Be sure the folded cotton does not have any wrinkles in it and wipe from one end of the take to the other in the direction of what would be the wood grain.
Wipe off as much as you prefer. If you would like to wipe off more glaze, you can add a little water to your rag. The glaze will dry very quickly so work fast in sections at a time.
Step 5: Clear Coat Again (optional)
The glaze is slightly glossy and protects the painted surface. So if you painted a piece that will rarely be touch, then you will not need another layer of protection. Since this small table was going to be a coffee table in my teenage son’s bedroom and take some wear and tear, I added another layer of the Minwax Polycrylic in the satin finish.
The result is a gray table that resembles the charcoal gray stain of the Rockport TV stand.
The black dots you see on the tabletop is where the glaze settled into dents in the wood. They are actually more noticeable in the photo than they are in person.
You can also use this same technique to duplicate the look of cherry wood, but instead of using gray paint, you would use a dark brick red. I’ll save that for another post.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to products I use myself.