Natural wood is a great way to add stunning accents to a home. Unfortunately, it’s also very expensive, especially if you want a nice type of lumber such as mahogany or oak.
Thankfully, you can imitate the look of natural wood by using a wood graining tool. These tools are designed to simulate natural wood grain with just a couple coats of paint.
So, what is the best wood graining tool? The best wood graining tool is made of rubber or soft plastic, imitates natural wood grain, can create a variety of different wood grain effects, and comes with an easy-to-use interchangeable handle.
If you’ve ever wanted to create a natural wood finish in your home on a tight budget, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll tell you everything you need to know to purchase your own set of wood graining tools to create your own stunning faux wood accents.
How To Use A Wood Graining Tool
Creating beautiful natural wood looks in your home is exponentially cheaper when using a wood graining tool instead of real wood.
While it can be hard to make the decision to create a faux wood illusion, once you see the results, you’ll be glad you saved your money. Good quality wood graining tools work great to simulate the natural wood grain patterns you’d see on real lumber.
You can use them on tables, doors, flooring, walls, or any other flat surface. The best thing is that they can work on a variety of surface materials: ceramic tiles, vinyl tiles, drywall, metal, and plastic.
Remember that wood graining tools can be used on any flat surface, after it’s been properly prepared. Just as you would before painting a regular coat of paint, you’ll need to sand the surface and paint on a layer of primer before proceeding with your color paints.
Wood graining tools work by using two different colors of paint that are layered on top of each other. For the paint to stick effectively and have a nice finish, you’ll need to sand the surface prior to painting.
Once you have prepared your surface, you can proceed with using your wood graining tool. The steps are simple!
- Paint your base coat. Allow to dry completely.
- Paint your glazed second coat. This should be a different color.
- While the glazed paint is still wet, brush the wood graining tool over the surface. You may want to rock it back and forth as you go to create different effects and have it not look too uniform.
- After brushing through one stroke on the surface, be sure to wipe the wood graining tool before brushing again.
And that’s it! If you’re a visual learner and need to watch someone use a wood graining tool to get a better idea, check out the video below from Paint Varnish Tutorial.
This video provides an in-depth look at the step-by-step process required to use a wood graining tool. The in-video captions are not in English, but you can still get a sense for the process without them.
Wood graining tools are truly simple to use, although they do have a learning curve to them. Practice makes perfect. We highly recommend practicing using your wood graining tool on a disposable surface prior to using it on your desired surface.
Many people struggle with getting the wood grain patterns right the first time. They may not rock correctly as they brush the tool down the surface or may apply too much or too little pressure.
Don’t worry if your first try is a bit of a mess! Keep trying until you get the look you want, then you can start working on your finished surface.
Remember that these tools will be getting paint in between the grooves, so if they’re not washed quickly, that paint will dry up and cake onto the tool. This can ruin your tool for any future use.
To avoid this issue, wash your wood graining tools immediately after each use.
How To Choose The Best Wood Graining Tool
If you want to make sure you purchase the best wood graining tools available, check out the list below for the top qualities to look for.
Rubber Or Soft Plastic Material
The best wood graining tools are made from sturdy rubber or a soft plastic material. It may seem counter-intuitive to need one material sturdy and the other soft, but there’s a reason.
The goal of the material is for it to be stiff enough to hold its shape and not warp as it drags through the paint to create wood grain, but soft enough that it won’t scratch your surface or get caught on small imperfections in the surface.
Rubber is naturally a much softer and more flexible type of material than plastic. So, if your wood graining tool is rubber, it should be a sturdy rubber. You wouldn’t want the lines creating grooves on the tool to flap back as you brush it along your surface.
If your wood graining tool is plastic, it should be a soft plastic. You can grab onto it and move your hand, feeling the way the plastic bends just a tiny bit in your hand.
Don’t try to bend it too much or you might break it! But a very slight bend is normal and an indication that the plastic is softer and better to use for creating a faux wood grain.
These materials will also be easy to clean. The surface of both materials, whether you choose rubber or plastic, is slick.
The slick and smooth surface of rubber or plastic makes it easy to wash off with a little bit of dish soap and some water. Be sure to get in the crevices and divots to get the best clean.
Imitates Natural Wood Grain
If you’re using a wood graining tool, you’re using it with the goal of creating a real wood grain look without using actual lumber. So, it makes sense that the best wood graining tools are designed with grooves that imitate real wood grain patterns.
While the grooves may not look like much on the wood graining tool, you may be surprised what it looks like once you use it on your painted surface.
There are some wood graining tools that leave a lot to be desired when it comes to the pattern. You can tell it’s a faux wood design right away, which ruins the effect you were going for.
The unfortunate thing is you won’t know until you try them out. Make sure you know the return policy of wherever you buy them from to ensure you can return them if they don’t have the right look.
If you want to get it right the first time and purchase wood graining tools that do a great job of simulating natural wood grain, check out our suggested products at the end of this article.
Variety Of Wood Grain Effects
Not only should your wood graining tool simulate real wood grain, but they should have the versatility to create multiple types of wood grain patterns.
Not all wood grain looks the same. Maple and mahogany, for example, have two different types of wood grains. Your pack of wood graining tools should come with a variety of pieces (at least 3) to achieve a variety of wood grain effects.
Typically, the best wood graining tool sets will come with at least two rockers and one triangular piece. The rockers, called wood grain rockers, are the typical types that you use to brush down the painted surface, rocking them back and forth as you go.
The triangular piece is called a graining comb or check comb. These have teeth of different sizes and spacing on the three sides of the triangle.
The check combs are best for straight wood grains, while the wood grain rockers can create wood grain patterns with knots and the typical oval shapes you’re used to seeing on some lumber.
Some wood graining tool sets come with even more pieces, one of which is a roller. The wood grain roller can be used like a paint roller, where you simply start at the top and roll it down to the bottom.
It’s common for new users to make the mistake of dipping the roller in the topcoat of paint as you would with a paint roller, but this will leave you with spotty wood grain in varying levels of saturation.
Just like you would with the graining rockers and combs, you’ll paint your first color and allow it to dry, then paint your glazed second color.
While the glazed top layer is still wet, you’ll roll the wood grain roller over the wet paint. Just as with the rocker, it will create a wood grain pattern.
There are other wood graining tools as well, but these are the 3 most common types to achieve the widest variety of wood grain patterns.
Another quality that makes a wood graining tool set worth it is when it comes with an interchangeable handle to use with the various wood grain rockers.
While there are some wood grain rockers you can use just with your hands on the base, the ones that come with a handle are much easier to use.
They offer you more control because you can get a better grip on a long handle than you can on the small base of a wood grain rocker that doesn’t have a handle.
Because many wood graining tool sets come with multiple rockers, the handle should have an interchangeable system that makes it easy to use with every rocker in your kit.
Sometimes this is a peg and hole system, and sometimes it’s a clip-on system. Regardless of the design of the handle system, it should be easy to take off one rocker and put on another one to use with the handle.
It should be noted that not all wood graining tool sets will come with an interchangeable handle, and that’s okay. This quality isn’t a deal-breaker, but it is one that will make your life easier.
The Best Wood Graining Tools
Given everything you now know about wood graining tools, it’s time to make a purchase.
To ensure you’re getting a top-quality wood graining tool set with most, if not all, the characteristics we listed above, check out our top recommended products below.
|1.||ALLWAY GT3 3-Piece Wood Graining Set||3 pcs, imitates natural wood grain, made of soft plastic, interchangeable handle|
|2.||Red Devil 3710 Graining Tool, 1-Pack||3 pcs, imitates natural wood grain, made of rubber, interchangeable handle|
|3.||Carkio Wood Graining Painting Tool Set||6 pcs, imitates natural wood grain, made of rubber, includes roller|
|4.||Amazon Basics Wood Graining Set, 3-Pieces||3 pcs, imitates natural wood grain, interchangeable handle|
|5.||Bioristar Wood Texture Roller Graining Tool (5 Pack)||5 pcs, imitates natural wood grain, made of rubber|
|6.||Nichiyo Wood Graining Painting Tool Set||3 pcs, imitates natural wood grain, made of rubber, interchangeable handle, other accessories available|
|7.||Mardatt 8 Pcs Wood Graining Painting Tool Set||8 pcs, imitates natural wood grain, made of rubber, includes roller|
1. ALLWAY GT3 3-Piece Wood Graining Set
The product that takes the top slot on our list of recommendations has over 2,500 reviews of customers attesting to the fantastic quality of these products! These reviews contribute to the product’s overall 4.5 star rating.
This wood graining tool set from ALLWAY includes two wood grain rockers, a check comb, and an interchangeable handle that can be used on both rocker pieces.
Each of these pieces gives their own unique wood grain patterns, giving you a wide variety to choose from when creating your faux wood look.
The longer rocker is great if you want to have the appearance of wide wood planks, while the shorter rocker is great for the illusion of thin pieces of wood.
These wood graining tools are made of high-quality soft plastic that’s easy to use and easy to clean.
They’re durable, so they’ll hold up over time, and they’ll work great to make any type of wood grain pattern you’re looking for.
If you want a cheap wood graining tool set without compromising on top quality, then you can’t go wrong with this small, simple set from ALLWAY.
2. Red Devil 3710 Graining Tool, 1-Pack
The wood graining tool set from Red Devil comes in a close second to the ALLWAY set. It has over 1,500 reviews giving it a 4.5 star average rating, as well as customer pictures to show how great these work.
Similar to the ALLWAY set, this set from Red Devil comes with two wood grain rockers, a check comb, and an interchangeable handle to use with both of the rockers.
Unlike the ALLWAY set, these are made from sturdy rubber. The rubber material used to make these is great quality, and will hold up great over time.
You can use the long rocker for wide planks and the short rocker for thin planks, just like the ALLWAY set above.
Really, this set is very similar in a lot of ways to the previous set we listed – which is what makes it a perfect choice for the number 2 slot on our list.
With so many similarities, you can really choose either set and not go wrong.
If you work in a contracting or home improvement business and do a lot of faux wood graining for your customers, you can even buy this set in a 6-pack to have a plethora of tools for you and your crew.
3. Carkio Wood Graining Painting Tool Set
The Carkio wood graining tool set is our first set that has more than just 3 pieces to it.
With 6 different wood graining tools to choose from, you’ll have even more variety to the types of wood grain you can achieve and the surfaces you can achieve it on.
There are 4 different wood grain rockers, a check comb, and a wood grain roller.
It’s unclear based on the product description whether the wood grain rockers can all be used with the same handle, or whether the handle is permanently attached to the rocker pictured.
Regardless of whether the handle is interchangeable, this is a great set that has a lot of tools for a fair price. The roller will enable you to cover more surface area quickly, as well as offer a different wood grain pattern.
There are varying lengths of wood grain rockers to help you create the illusion of long and short lumber. Each of these pieces are made with good quality rubber that will be easy to use without scratching your surface, and easy to clean when you’re done.
4. Amazon Basics Wood Graining Set, 3-Pieces
Amazon Basics is a brand that’s becoming more and more popular. Amazon Basics often takes a highly popular product and makes their own version for a cheaper cost. This set of wood graining tools is no exception.
This is another 3-piece set with two interchangeable wood grain rocker heads that can be used on the same handle, as well as a graining comb.
They’re made of a combination of 30% polypropylene, 10% TPR, and 60% vinyl according to the product description on Amazon.
Many customers enjoy that this set came with instructions to help you figure out how to change the wood grain rockers on the handle.
With practice, these wood graining tools can become the most helpful tool in your arsenal!
5. Bioristar Wood Texture Roller Graining Tool (5 Pack)
If you’re looking for another option with a wider variety of tools, then this set from Brioristar is your next best choice!
It comes with 5 different wood grain rockers, all at different lengths, to help you create not only several types of wood grain, but several widths of faux lumber.
The handle isn’t clear whether it’s interchangeable or not, but the rockers look like they have a good grip on the back just in case it’s not.
One downside to this set is that it doesn’t come with a check comb, which is ideal for straight-grain lumber. However, if you want your faux wood to have knots and oval shapes on it, then you wouldn’t use the check comb anyway.
This set of 5 different wood grain rockers is the perfect set for those looking to create dynamic wood grain patterns on a tight budget.
6. Nichiyo Wood Graining Painting Tool Set
The set from Nichiyo has the classic collection of two wood grain rockers, one long and one short, with an interchangeable handle and a check comb.
However, one great thing that sets Nichiyo apart is their other accessories available.
You can buy an additional set of 2 green wood grain rockers with an entirely different grain pattern, or their other 2-piece red set of wood grain rockers, also with a different grain pattern than the basic 3-piece set.
Each of these sets would work great to create faux wood grain on your project – it’s just a matter of the type of wood grain you’re looking to imitate.
The basic 3-piece set, and the other accessory sets, are made of strong rubber to ensure longevity of the product as well as ease of use.
7. Mardatt 8 Pcs Wood Graining Painting Tool Set
This wood graining tool set from Mardatt has the most pieces of the entire list. It comes with 8 total pieces: 7 wood grain rockers and 1 wood grain roller.
Although 7 rockers may seem excessive, they all help to create different wood grain patterns in varying widths.
The roller has a totally different wood grain pattern as well, plus it gives you the option of quickly rolling your wood grain rather than brushing it on with a rocker.
The handle isn’t clear whether it’s interchangeable, but even without it, you still get a set of 8 different wood graining tools for a great price.