DIY: Easiest-Ever Driftwood Plank Paint Technique

Today I am sharing the realistic faux driftwood paint technique I am using for an upcoming DIY post. Guys, this is the EASIEST-EVER way to create driftwood planks to use in your next coastal or farmhouse DIY project. You’ll see how affordable this paint & stain method is because it works so well on pine and poplar wood, and the supplies used may already be in your craft closet. I can see this technique used on many of my future projects…speaking of that, tune in next week to see what I am building with the “driftwood” planks I’m showing today.

Here we go…

Easiest-Ever Process:

  • Wood: I purchased wood at Lowe’s/Home Depot in the Hobby/Craft aisle of the lumber department for my particular project. Hobby/Craft wood is perfect to use for small planked projects because it come in thin thicknesses, is already a smooth finish on both sides, and is available in lengths of 2′, 3′ and 4′. The wood comes in pine, poplar, red oak, but I chose to use pine since it is the cheapest, and has the most dramatic wood grain that will give a nice shading to my driftwood planks. Poplar is also a good choice.

  • Whitewash the planks using a mixture of 1/4 cup water and 2-3 Tbsp White acrylic craft paint. Be sure to do all edges, I also whitewashed 1/4″ around the backside for my project (yours may be different, just be sure to consider visible areas.) I used a chip brush to paint with, then I used a rag or (my new favorite) Scott shop (paper) towel (see product photo below) to wipe off excess wetness. Tip: Practice first on one plank to see how to do the technique.

Note, Do NOT let whitewash sit very long on the wood, because the wood tends to curl on the edges if saturated too much. Some of my planks have that wonky curl on long sides edge, yet the board itself not warped. Shhh, imperfection is perfect for my project. I painted the whitewash on, then counted to 20, lightly wiped across the plank with the rag, then I let plank dry (which is fast) and repeated 2 more times to get a whitewash that was barely showing the grain. The whiter (opaque) the whitewashed plank, the more control you have with the stain color process, BUT you do want the grain to show through. You’ll find your sweet spot on the first plank then you can do the rest the same way – so pay attention to your test process.

  • Enhancing (optional): After the planks’ whitewash is dry, you can dry-brush some details with black craft paint to enhance or create knot holes and create darker areas and speckles on the wood that is typical of real driftwood. See photo below of the fan brush I used, I would recommend that handy brush for any DIY toolbox, it came in a cheap set of brushes from craft store. This is an option you may want do on a couple of planks, don’t go crazy. Later, I will show that you can also create more enhanced shading by using stain.

  • Stain: First wipe on Provincial stain, and immediately wipe it off. I used the Scott shop towels for both putting on and wiping off stains. A cotton t-shirt square would work well too. Oh, wear plastic gloves, this is messy. I just did one-coat. After all planks are stained,  I did some more (optional) enhanced streaks…
  • Add more enhancement using streaks of Classic Gray stain. I just used an art brush and cotton rag to paint on and dab off or blend stain onto the plank (see below photo). This is easy, No skill needed, just don’t go overboard. I used some smears of white paint (see step 2 photo below) to go back over some dark areas to give it more depth. The white paint was put on using a damp rag and wiped off leaving a faint smear. Play with it on just one plank to get the feel.

  • More Stain: (last step) After adding those streak enhancements I did a quick light wipe-on/wipe-off of Classic Gray stain over the entire plank. To clarify…not all planks got an enhancement treatment, but all planks got one-coat each of Provincial and Classic Gray stain.

Wow, that looks like it was plucked from the beach!

Planks should dry completely (24 hrs) before using the wood in a project. If you are going to clear-coat your wood planks, I recommend, in order to maintain that realistic driftwood-look, to use matte finish Minwax Polycrylic or Annie Sloan Clear Wax. (See below photo.) To apply the Polycrylic: I used a foam brush to brush-on and then I immediately lightly smooth the excess with a clean lint-free t-shirt cloth, so there was no sheen…just a smooth matte driftwood finish. I let it dry then repeated for added protection.

Drop in next week to see my Driftwood Plank Project Reveal! I still can not believe how good my (secret) DIY turned out!

Thanks for Meeting Me Lakeside!



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