How To Make Wood Look Like Metal

It’s pretty amazing what you can do with paint. Not only can you simply give an item a new color but you can also change the look of the material. Whether you want something to look like metal, wood, or even tree bark, there is an easy technique. I’ll show you how to make wood look like metal with a simple paint technique that includes an item from your pantry.

I recently did a project where I painted a vase to look like birch bark. It was so rewarding and fun that I wanted to try something else with paint. Years ago, I bought a set of three wooden jacks from a flea market. At the time, I just painted over the bright colors with a silver metallic paint. This made them look like the original jacks that kids play with.

However since then, I keep seeing oversized jacks, like this one from Restoration Hardware, that look more like blackened iron. I love the rustic industrial look of these and decided to try and transform my wooden jacks once again.

restoration hardware oversized jack

Restoration Hardware Knock Off

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I used this Restoration Hardware jack as my inspiration for the paint finish on my jacks. It is a blackened steel with variations in the shades and textures.

how to make wood look like metal

Faux Iron Paint Technique

Here is what I am starting off with. I’ll show you how I change the look of them with paint, texture paste, and a little cinnamon.

painted jacks before faux iron technique

When I originally painted these, I was wanting just a solid metallic finish. If you just want to know how to make wood look like metal that is solid, metallic paint is the answer. Just spray or brush it on and you’re done. However, when you want an older more rustic look, there are ways to add dimension and character with a couple more steps.

Supplies Used

If you’ve ever look at old objects made from steel or iron, you will notice that most do not have a smooth finish. There is usually a subtle mix of colors and maybe even a little rust. Because of this, I wanted to begin with adding a little texture.

Faux Iron Instructions

It’s really not that hard to make wood look like a metal such as iron or steel. And, you can switch up your paint colors depending on the shade or type of metal that you want. Although, spray paint is easy to use, I like to use brush on paints. It’s easier to blend different colors that way and is great for distressed finishes.

How To Make Wood Look Like Metal

  1. Apply Texture Paste

    This step is optional but works well to resemble the imperfect texture of iron. Use the paint brush tip to dot on some small bumps. Smooth some on, with the full brush, to create some ridges or divets. You don’t need to go crazy with this. A little goes a long way. It also helps to have an inspiration piece to look at. I used the Restoration Hardware photo plus an actual old iron pulley. texture paste

  2. Paint A Black Base Coat

    I mixed steel metallic paint with a plain black to look more like blackened iron. black and brown acrylic paint

  3. Add Some Strokes Of Brown Paint

    While the base coat of paint is still wet, apply some brown over the top in spots. Blend to get just a subtle difference in shades. A dark brown like espresso works good for this.

  4. Sprinkle On Some Cinnamon

    If you want the object to look slightly rusted in some areas, just sprinkle on some cinnamon in key areas. Choose spots that might typically get more rust, like joints. Do this while the paint is still wet so that the cinnamon sticks. Wipe off any areas that are too heavy.
    cinnamon on paint

  5. Coat With Varnish

    Once the paint is dry, coat it with a light coat of varnish in a satin sheen.

Completed Faux Iron

faux iron jacks
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Creating rustic styling on a budget by giving new life to old things and using the beauty that is already found in nature. Read more about me.
  1. What brands did you use for your project?
    I want to be able to shop and things be delivered if possible. I called the store and asked about steel metalic paint, and they said they didn’t have anything like that. This was Michaels, I can’t believe they don’t.
    Would any acrylic brand be ok for the other colors?
    What would you suggest?
    Thank you for your time! Be safe.

    1. The steel metallic paint is Golden Fluid stainless steel paint. I updated my supply list to include links to where you can order them from Amazon. I use mainly Deco Art acrylic paints but any brand will work.

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