Create the look of a stained wood finish without stripping by creating a faux wood grain finish. The technique requires the use of an inexpensive set of wood-graining tools, available at most home improvement or paint stores. The technique works on painted wood or primed surfaces.
Begin the process by lightly sanding the primer coat or existing paint. Sanding ensures the faux finish adheres properly to the surface. Dust the surface to remove any residue from sanding. If the object includes panels with wood grain going in different directions, tape off the separate panels and create patterns that follow the natural wood grain. Once you finish the first section, move to the next.
Mix the base coat of paint with clear acrylic glaze according to the manufacturer's directions. Apply the mix to the surface and use the comb from the graining tool to create grain along the edge. Hold the tool at a 45-degree angle and pull it through the glaze. Try twisting the comb slightly to create variations in the grain patterns.
Use the rocker tool set to create patterns resembling the knots in natural wood. Rock the tool and then drag it through the glaze to create natural looking patterns. Overlap the edges of the grain you are creating.
Apply the second color over the first in a light coat that allows some of the first coat to show. If the second coat is too dark, use a dry brush to lightly remove the excess paint.