Painted faux wood nightstands

Can you believe these nightstands are painted?! When I painted a couple frames to look like wood, I had a lot of questions on whether they this technique would hold up on doors or tables. The answer was: I don’t know! 

So I decided to find out. I tried the same faux wood painting on these two tables.

Faux wood painted nightstands DIY tutorial

🎗September is childhood cancer awareness month. My friend Kell @simplyhandmade on Instagram came up with #diyforacure to raise awareness. Her beautiful boy Donald was diagnosed last year and she’s fighting every way she knows how. Even with her gift of DIY. 

As this group works together on our DIYs it is our hope to 1) bring awareness to the lack of funding and resources for children with cancer. Only 4 percent of cancer research funding goes to children. And 2) ask for donations that go directly to this research.

The money will go to MSK Kids, (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s pediatric department) where they are doing groundbreaking research for these children. This is where I have chosen to donate my blog’s 20 percent tithe from the third quarter of this year.

faux wood painting DIY tutorial - before

Ok, Let’s take a look at these nightstands, shall we? We’ve had these for about a decade and I’m not so into black furniture anymore. So let’s make them look like wood! This is the coolest technique I’ve done in a long time and I learned it from Natalie at Vintage Porch. SO many clever ideas on her blog.

faux wood painting DIY tutorial - before
2 step faux wood painting + simple DIY colorful art

When I painted the frames, I just used two steps: painting on flat paint and rubbing in some antiquing wax. But to make the nightstands more durable, I’m going to add two more steps. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

faux wood painting DIY tutorial - sanding furniture


First I took off the hardware and lightly sanded so the bonding primer would have something to hold onto. These nightstands are not real wood so I’m using a finer 200 grit sandpaper so I don’t ruin it. This is my new (not sponsored) Dewalt sander and it’s been great.

2. Prime

I washed the tables and then primed them. Don’t skip washing them well! In order to avoid confusion, I’ll tell you what I should have done and then what I actually did.

What I should have done: I should have painted on two thin layers of bonding primer with shellac to adhere to the slick surface.

What I did: I went ahead and used the water-based bonding primer I already had. I gave it the ol’ fingernail scratch test to see if it would hold up and it failed. Sigh. So I went to Home Depot and looked for the shellac primer and they were wiped out. All I could find was a spray paint can of oil-based primer so I went with it. THEN when I sprayed, it left a weird texture and residue. Ugh! So I sanded that down with the sanding block and carried on.

That’s the life of DIYer! You can’t get irritated, just keep moving forward and figure it out.

3. Paint flat Burnished Clay paint

I added two thin coats of the flat Burnished Clay with my trim brush, paying special attention to go with the grain and look out for drips. Thin layers is key!

brush strokes for faux wood painting technique

Typically you want to avoid brush lines, but in this case, we actually want them. This is what the wax will nestle into and make it look like wood grain.

faux wood painting DIY tutorial- antiquing wax
faux wood painting DIY tutorial

4. Apply antiquing wax

Now for the fun part! Put on your gloves and rub in the antiquing wax with a clean rag. You are going to be AMAZED when you see how much it looks like real wood!

When I dipped the rag in the wax can, I found it helpful to put the first glop of wax in the middle of piece and work out to avoid getting the corners too dark. Be sure to take your time rubbing it in evenly. Use less for a lighter bleached look and more for a layered rustic feel. You can watch my YouTube video below to see exactly how I did it.

faux wood painting technique - scratch test

And now for the fingernail test! I let these cure for a day and then gave them a good scratch on the side in an inconspicuous spot and … they held up! It worked! Hooray!

Now I haven’t left a water cup there to see if it stains yet, but I imagine the antiquing wax will seal and protect against that. I’ll be sure to update this post if I find a problem.

Painting nightstands to look like raw wood - faux wood paint DIY

And finally I added this hardware from Hobby Lobby. I’m so grateful at least one of these decor stores still carries knobs! Most stores only carry them online anymore. Home Depot had a boring selection, so I went to Anthropologie, Pottery Barn and World Market with zero luck. But these look great!

Painting nightstands to look like raw wood - faux wood paint DIY
Painting nightstands to look like raw wood - faux wood paint DIY
Painting nightstands to look like wood - DIY faux wood painting technique tutorial
Painting nightstands to look like raw wood - faux wood paint DIY

And here they are back in their spots in our bedroom. I love how much dimension they add. Before it was dark on top of dark, now it’s much brighter.

Painting nightstands to look like raw wood - faux wood paint DIY
Painting nightstands to look like raw wood - faux wood paint DIY
Painting nightstands to look like raw wood - faux wood paint DIY
Painting nightstands to look like raw wood - faux wood paint DIY

Painting nightstands to look like raw wood - faux wood paint DIY
Painting nightstands to look like raw wood - faux wood paint DIY

28 thoughts on “Painted faux wood nightstands

  1. I love your blog and channel. Quick question, if I already have something painted in BM ballet white, can I just use this glazing technique? Thank you.

  2. I think so! But if the paint is not flat, it won’t hold as well. Maybe test an inconspicuous spot and see if the wax will stay in place.

  3. I would like to do the same on a dining table, but I’m afraid that the wax won’t stand a chance with daily meals. What do you think?

  4. I hate to say it, but no, I don’t think the wax would hold up on a well-used dining table. I need to refinish my dining room table as well — I guess I have some research ahead of me!

  5. I just want to say thank you! I have been searching forever to find new furniture for my bedroom and everything that I love that has this look is well over $2,000 a piece. I found this article and decided to redo my furniture since it is solid wood. I followed every step and it came out amazing! It looks like furniture from Pottery Barn. Thank you so much!

  6. Oh I’m so happy to hear that, Lauren! It really is amazing how those two products together can transform a piece.

  7. Adore your blog! I have a little art studio and my door is boring white. I recently rescued a pup that comes to work with me now and turned my door into a Dutch door, so my pup won’t escape and now I know how to paint it! And I also followed your tutorial for hiding a big ugly tv! I made a box and added canvas! Thanks so much for all your diy work!

  8. Wow, you get things done! It makes my day to know that I’ve inspired someone. Thank you kindly for taking the time to let me know!

  9. How long should I wait after the final coat of paint and the wax?
    Thanks so much- I’m excited to see how my piece will turn out!

  10. Hi Sarah! How long should you wait between the last coat and putting on the wax?? Just until it’s dry. If it is matte paint it dries pretty quickly. Or if you are asking how long after you wax should you put things on it — I would let it cure a day or two just to be safe :)

  11. They were from World Market, but they don’t have them anymore. I’m sorry! It’s so hard to find larger, affordable nightstands, isn’t it? Why are the so expensive!!?

  12. Hi Kate! I was thinking of doing this with my bedroom bi-fold doors. They are white now (satin paint)… do I need to use the primer you suggested? I bought the clay color paint and antique gel you recommended. Thanks! Your nightstands are beautiful. :)

  13. I am so happy I found this blog post! I’m going to try this on my ugly brown nightstands. I’ve been trying to find this natural wood look and I love how yours turned out. Thank you for sharing!

  14. Is there a sealer you recommend to add on top of the wax layer? I want to try and do this to the top of a desk but want to make sure it’s durable for daily work. Thank you. Your night stands are beautiful!

  15. Hello Kate!
    This is a wonderful discovery for me since I have a Yamaha electric black piano and I wish it could be made of wood! Do you think it would work? Do I need to sand it and follow all the same steps you did?

    You can find in the “website” section a link to what the piano looks like :)

    Can’t wait to have your opinion!


  16. What a clever idea! I don’t even think you would need to sand it because the photos show a rougher finish. It’s going to look beautiful! :)

  17. On furniture that is already painted, after you sand lightly is it better to use chalk paint instead of the Behr paint? Also, should you/can you seal it after the stain? I am considering using this technique on my dressers and nightstands. Thank you!

  18. You know, I’ve never tried chalk paint! I don’t know why! I’m sure it would work as well though. I did not seal my night stands and they’ve held up great. The stain sort of acts like a sealant. You could see how the finish is after the stain and add a sealant if you want to be extra cautious. Good luck!

  19. Hey Kate! Do you have to use burnished clay or can you use any light color paint in a light finish? I was going to try and use a Sherwin Williams color.

  20. Hello. Love the night stands you did. Do you think this technique would work on laminated pieces of furniture?

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