Faux Walnut Burl

Walnut burl is one of the most interesting woods out there.  It is very rare to find a french piece in burl, and when you do, it is super expensive.  Knowing how to faux paint could save you a LOT of money!

The best workbooks on walnut burl and any other particular wood would be The Art of Faux.

The only way to learn is to be willing to try, and practice. I am just learning myself, and it can be a bit daunting to attempt to paint a piece with a finish you are not skilled at. The easiest way to try is just to go for it… and not worry about making it perfect. The great news is that with this finish, the oil paint will not dry for a good day, so you can mess around with it with paint thinner.

Here is how to do it:

The easiest way to explain how I have found success in painting wood finishes, is to start with this paint color coat. – Paint your entire piece of furniture Olympic Bronze from Behr.

After it is fully dry, you want to use paint thinner as well as painters oil paint in Burnt Umber.  If you go to your local Michaels craft store you can find it there.  Any oil color in Burnt Umber.

Next, you just paint a pattern with your paint brush with squiggly pattern.  It is really just an experiment, so don’t be afraid.  The nice thing with the oil paint is it takes several days to dry, so you have time to get your pattern correct.  I found the less oil paint I have on my brush the better, so have paper towel handy.

It is a complex pattern. If you have a picture of burl, …..that may help, but try not to focus too much on replicating it.  Go with what looks natural, as you move around your brush.

Remember when you are done, you will be painting over your entire piece with paint stain which will even out your strokes.  Stain will also make your piece look like wood than just paint.

Another way of painting burl is to paint your furniture Olympic Bronze from Behr. Then, skip the Polyshades, and after your Olympic Bronze is dry, dry brush your entire piece, (or sections of your piece) straight from the oil paint in Burnt Umber. Don’t use paint thinner. (THE less oil paint the better) You want mostly orange showing through.   Let it dry a good 5 minutes or so…… Make sure it is even, but don’t get too complicated, because you will be dipping your (SMALL) paint brush in paint thinner and creating the pattern, moving around the paint creating a burl finish.  (Dip your brush in the paint thinner, but, dab it off on a paper towel)

The best advice is just to try it, and see what you come out with.  It takes a bit of practice, but as long as you have the base coat, and the oil paint, and the thinner, it is just creating designs that would look realistic.  Try the finish with a sample board and then try it with a piece of furniture.

After you are all finished, let it dry for a week or two.  Artists oil doesn’t dry fast!!!   BE SURE that your piece is dry before painting your piece with wood stain because you can ruin all your work.

It is best to buy the spray polyshades stain instead of painting it on for your first application.  This way if the paint finish is NOT dry, the top coat will dry your finish enough for additional coats. 

Maple Gloss, or walnut is my best suggestion from polyshades.

Faux Burl Painted Desk

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  • Su Short

    Hello Meranda,

    I have enjoyed looking at some of your painted furniture, thank you! You are very creative! You have inspired me to have a go at a Faux Walnut Burl finish on a countertop.

    I am in Australia and we do not have Behr paint here.
    Could you please tell me whether the Olympic Gold colour you suggest is an oil based or latex based paint?
    Also I presume the thinner that you use for the artist’s oils is just mineral turpentine?
    And when you talk about a wood finish such as Maple Gloss or walnut from Polyshades, do you mean a tinted high gloss varnish?

    I look forward to hearing from you and I’m eager to produce such a masterpiece as you (hopefully!!!),

    Many thanks,

    Su Short

  • admin

    Hi Sue,

    I am very sorry I didn’t get back to you earlier, I haven’t checked my comments in quite some time. By this time your project might already be finished.

    What I have used in the past was a color almost close to the Olympic Bronze UL150-17 In behr paint. Looking on the Olympic Gold site, (It is kind of hard to tell) but I would suggest the colors like Ginger c21-6, or Bronze Eucalyptus B21-6. If you get a color around that range, you will get the effect of a burl, because you are going to be adding a poly stain on top of the design after it dries, which is the product that gives the illusion of wood.

    The product I used to create the burl design is an artists oil in a tube of paint called Winton Oil Color in Burnt Umber. I used paint thinner, but turpentine works just the same. Any artists oil paint used for wall paintings that you frame will work well. A Burnt Umber is a common color so you should find it in a local crafts store, or on ebay.

    For the stain I used a product called product called Minwax Polyshades, so basically it is wood stain mixed in with polyurethane. It is a one step process. For me, I can layer it on, and it gives the look of wood. I have found that high gloss looks great only if it is very even. You can get an even finish by using a foam brush, and brushing on the stain.

    For me, the best advice I can give is just to go ahead and try it. Don’t think to much, just go for it. You may want to try a small jewelry box first so you can master the technique before you do your countertops.

  • admin

    From another post,…………

    A suggestion you may consider……

    Another clear finish you can try AS YOUR LAST FINISH is “Tough as Tile”- “Paint and tile finish” to the top of your counter top. Tough as tile is meant to fix up ugly tubs wit a white paint. The kit includes a can of paint and a can of epoxy. How it works when you are painting a tub is you mix the two together and paint your tub.

    It is industrial strength epoxy, and could be the perfect solution for your countertop.

    You would just use the clear epoxy. It turns out glossy, so if you do not want gloss, this may not be for you.

    Before you begin, be sure to really sand your countertops, because you really want it to stick well. This epoxy is what I would use for countertops, because it is strong!

    If you end up using this, be sure to use a foam brush to apply the clear gloss, but also leave yourself almost 2 weeks of drying time.

    I used it on a dresser top, and I left my piece for a week to dry, (which I thought was enough time), only to stack furniture on top of my piece and it left marks.

    Because this clear gloss is meant for your bathtub it is almost impossible to sand after you are finished, so be sure to apply it with a foam brush.

    I will use it again, but the next time I will be sure to let my piece dry for a longer time.

    Hope this helps…. Meranda