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Painting & Wallpapering/Faux wood grain paint color selection


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I want to paint some white ceiling beams in my kitchen/living room to look like a dark wood (my decor style is a cross between British Colonial and French Country). I have watch any number of instructional videos and am always surprised at the base color used. I was going to use a method with acrylic satin in the base coat and acrylic glaze mixed in the top coat. The results I see in the videos are usually a lighter colored wood than I want. How should I chose my base and top colors? Or do you have a recommendation?

In doing this type of work it's necessary to visually
deconstruct the look that you want to replicated. For example, is the undertone (foundation of the base color) warm or cool? Yellow, Orange, Red, Green, blue, purple...etc. Typically it is a yellow/gold or a warm red (ie: rusty type). But...not necessarily!
Then the color/tone of the overglaze(s) layer(s) which I indicated here can be more than one and in fact more than one color---layers.

Test and test again, and record your colors and processes each time. Then you will be able to get the depth (ie: not 'lighter than you want.") that you want to achieve. Ideally you would be testing on actual wood, same type as you have there...but for this kind of application it's probably fine to test on a non-wood substrate.: I recommend Small Wall (

The 'short story answer" that you are probably looking for here--if what you want is what you see in the pictures--MIGHT be this:
a) one sample use a yellow ochre base paint, be sure to do 2 coats for complete coverage
b) your glaze(s) can be a cooler brown, something like a raw umber that is sort of green-toned (not like bright green at all, just not blue-based green/brown)
c) do samples with 1 layer glaze, 2 layers glaze, and 3 layers glaze - til you get the depth you want.

2. red-base
a) a warm, orange type base. Not a bright orange
b) samples using the same glaze colors as above
c) 2nd group of samples using a warmer, more plum-brown glaze.

THen you should be able to arrive at something you like.
2. KEEP RECORDS of colors, products, process.

I hope this helps.

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Barbara Jacobs


I am able to answer questions about paint color and wall covering selection (interior and exterior, but in this category it's interior)and, in many cases, decorative ("faux") finishing for many types of surfaces. I can also answer some paint product and application questions but am primarily consulting about paint colors.I can also answer questions about Full Spectrum paints.


My experience as a color consultant is broad and includes a wide variety of color issues. Since 1984, I've been helping clients their very best environments using color as the foundation. My experience includes over 20 years in the field of creating and installing fine decorative finishes, and specifying paint colors.

IACC: International Association of Color Consultants/Designers: member since 1996, accredited since 2000. Historic District Commission: Medfield, Massachusetts

Journal of Architectural Coatings (magazine article, print) Design& - blog for this site (current) 2005 – 2008 2005 Boston Women’s Business Jrnl. Subject of interviews and participation in interviews for other publications. Current: my own blog at

Academia di Belle Arti: Florence, Italy BA: University of Minnesota: focus: painting and printmaking University of California, Berkelely: painting department IACC: International Association of Color Consultants/Designers: Accredited member since 2000

Awards and Honors
IACC: international exhibit included four of my color design projects: 2010

Past/Present Clients
Private clients. I prefer not to include names here, but many testimonials are available for viewing at my web site at the "testimonials" page.

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