How to Perfectly Fake a Barn Wood Effect with Paint
When you want the look of a barn wood wall but don’t happen to have aged barn wood or any wood at all hanging around look to a painted barn wood effect! Faux painting techniques help you achieve the look on any surface without the use of special tools!
I hope you had a great weekend and kept warm! Lucky us, the sun finally peeked out, and we were able to spend a bit of time outside. There was a lot of squinting, and a bit of disorientation, as though we’d been in a cave for a bit of time, but we managed to adapt and get a bit of running around out of our systems.
I’m a sucker for a sunny day and cute boys in red crocs
But, back at the homestead.. a bit more bathroom love! So, last we talked, we had just finished up the tiling in the tub area.
We are still thrilled to bits with the outcome – the bathtub area is the “new” prettiest part of our house – but the fresh look made everything else in the room look dated and less than dazzling. On top of that, the monstrosity of a tub was a focal point hog. We needed a bit of balance in the room. And, we needed to get rid of the ugly builder grade mirror. Stat.
I had come across this inspiration shot and fell instantly in love. It was perfect for over our small sink area!
Achieving this look in our room posed a few problems though:
We don’t have a vast area that would allow us to repeat the pattern
I wasn’t up for hanging paneling and all the cutting involved
I’m a fickle creature, meaning I could be bored with it in a year. Tops.
Enter a faux application.
The background had already been painted earlier with our room color, Valspar City Snow. I began by taping off the area I would be painting. I only wanted to paint above the sink, to the ceiling, so, my tape ran straight up to the crown molding. Then, I drew a line down the center of the taped section.
I planned to create the barn wood look first, then add the faux board or grout lines in afterward.
Lucky for Lowes/Home Depot that I’m so indecisive me, I had a bazillion sample size paints in a myriad of gray, white, and taupe from that time we painted the office and couldn’t decide on a color. I’d show you the office, but I have a kid-who’s-returned-to-the-flock living in it – that’s a story for another day. I ended up primarily using white, straight from the can, plus four shades:
I accented (for more depth and texture) with a bit of black and a touch of blue-gray, Valspar Autumn Fog.
To create the barn wood look, I used a 2″ brush, and layered the paint in different and alternating colors at an approximately 45-degree angle, in 4″ sections, starting from the center line and working out. I used a mostly dry brush, meaning, I did have some paint on my brush, but a lot less than if I were painting a solid color. I didn’t measure it but instead just eyeballed it. I tried to keep the lines somewhat even, but in reality, it wasn’t imperative if they were or not at this point, meaning it didn’t matter if the outside points matched on either side. It was, however, important not to follow a pattern with color for a natural look.
Once I applied the color portion, I went back over it with white, straight from the can, and used a dry brush technique to lightly blend the colors, adding striations of black and gray where needed to add dimension. Love Grows Wild has a great, full, tutorial on how to paint with the dry brush technique.
The general idea is to use a tiny amount of paint, dipping only the tips of your brush, then dabbing the brush on either a paper towel or the paint lid to remove any excess before applying it to your surface. You don’t want to cover your surface, add color and texture strategically, using short, quick brush strokes. For this purpose, especially when applying the white, I found it helpful to add a line of color, then “feather” the line in the opposite direction, using short, light strokes. This kept the line but softened the edge, which is what I wanted.
In truth, there isn’t a right or wrong way to do this, so, keep layering the paint and blending until you get the result you want.
Here was my finished result, before adding the board/grout lines.
After allowing the paint to dry overnight, it was time to apply the board lines. I used 2.5″ blue tape to mimic the width of an actual board. Beginning at the bottom, I taped out from the center to the outside edge, following the direction of the painted surface underneath. I didn’t measure the gaps in between but did my best to keep them even. I did have to go back afterward and adjust the lines by just adding a line of tape to adjust the gap. I didn’t worry about leaving a gap for the center line – I planned to paint that by hand afterward.
At some point during all this taping, I looked back to find I had a helper. Artist in the making for sure! If you’re ever in need of some assistance during your painting project, we do hire him out. 🙂
Initially, I had wanted to use a dark grout in the tub area, but once the tiling was done, I decided against it for various reasons. This area, however, seemed like it would be a perfect place to implement that look. So, once the taping was in place, I only painted over the lines with our darkest color, Behr Amazon Stone. Usually when painting lines, you would be sure to apply a coat of the base color to prevent bleeding, but in this case, I was all right with a little bleed through, as I was going to apply a whitewash over the lines anyway. If you are concerned about pristine lines though, be sure first to use your base color, then your accent color. For further explanation, take a look here.
When the paint was nearly dry, I removed the tape. Sure enough, there was a bit of bleed through, but it only added to the result, appearing like chips were missing in the boards. I added the line down the center by hand.
Finally, I again applied the dry brush technique over the lines using plain white, to soften them and fade them in places. I also touched up and added a bit of texture where needed.
To finish up, we added a .5″ piece of trim from the top of the cabinet to the crown molding and caulked around the edges.
And, finally, we added a new oval, tilting mirror and a few fun accessories. Pretend you don’t see that little tidbit of shelf fun to the left.
Not a bad “after,” so far! You can see that middle cabinet is some weird, different color to other cabinets. That’s going to need to be taken care of toot-sweet. There are a handful of small projects left – But, we are thisclose to being done. This close. I’m just so excited we aren’t here any longer!