Gel stain is one paint option that looks like wood stain. Another is glaze mixed with tint to produce a wood-like color. Both options are applied with certain techniques to produce a stain-like finish rather than looking like a painted surface.
To use gel stain, apply a coat of low-lustre latex enamel to the surface and then apply the gel stain over the enamel. Create a wood grain effect with a wood grain rocker tool. Wipe the tool clean when needed. Then, apply polyurethane after the gel and enamel are dry.
To use glaze, apply acrylic paint in a light wood tone to the glaze with one part of paint to six parts of varnish. Varnish the surface with a flat or very low lustre varnish, and then apply the glaze mixture in dabs all over the surface. Use a cheesecloth to swipe the glaze in a wood grain pattern. Follow the light glaze with a darker wood color glaze with a 1:1 paint to glaze ratio to create a multi-tonal effect. Seal the finish with a wood sealer.