Faux-wood flooring finish on MDF
I’ve been doing a taped assembly of a General Store Kit, just checking the parts to make sure everything fits the way it’s supposed to, and, as luck would have it, a builder emailed me to ask how to do faux-wood finishing on MDF (and here I have an MDF floor right in my hand). What a good subject for a demo!
The Faux-wood finish has to be applied before assembly of the General Store. Here’s the process:
Surface preparation: Sand the grooves and surface with fine sandpaper (320 grit aluminum oxide is perfect)
Paint (semigloss latex) the base color – tan or light brown (this is “Sands of Time”). Flood the grooves then wipe the paint off, first across the grooving, then in the direction of the boards. Let the paint dry.
I am scratching a grain pattern in the base paint with coarse sandpaper (80 grit). The motion is very straight and parallel with the flooring grooves, every pass the whole length of the floor ene-to-end.
Now a sanding prep with fine sandpaper, the grooves and the surface, and a thorough cleaning with a stiff brush.
I am using Minwax “PolyShades” Burgundy, which is a semi-transparent mix of stain and urethane. It is a surface stain-plus-finish, not a penetrating stain. PolyShades Burgundy has a nearly purple tint that is mahogany-like over tan basepaint. There are many brands and color combinations that will work well for faux-wood flooring; for example, an ivory basecoat and a walnut topcoat can give a pecan wood appearance. Apply a flooding coat, then wipe it off - first across the grooves, then in the flooring direction.
This is the step that shapes the grain-look. The topcoat is wiped very thin for transparency and the wiping is in full-length light whisks in the direction of the boards. The base paint shows through and gives definition to the grain-look. Let the topcoat dry completely.
A final smoothing with fine sandpaper, and a final finish with hard pastewax or satin urethane. Here I’m using “Butcher’s Bowling Alley” wax, and brushing out the finish for a soft sheen.