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This is a typical painted wood grained door project. In NYC, all exit doors (in this case, a door leading to a stairwell in an office building) are made of fireproof metal. That makes for a lot of ugly doors, so many people choose to paint them. I’m often asked to paint a door as wood to match wood that already exists in the room, although it’s more common in private apartments than in office buildings. In this case, I had to matching the surrounding real oak wainscoting and door frame in the main lobby.

A contractor applied the moldings to the door and painted a pale yellow base color. Then it was my turn. First, I hand-painted all of the figure grain (the squiggly lines) with a small brush, breaking up the lines with a comb. This was the hard part and took the better part of a day. The door surface was vertically divided into three planks that butt together so it looked realistic, since oak trees aren’t big enough to provide a single plank spanning the entire width of a door. This also mimicked the treatment on the adjacent real wood paneling.

The next day, I used a special metal roller about two inches wide called a check roller, which creates choppy dashed lines, intended to imitate the pore structure of oak grain. This was rolled to create vertical pore marks overall. Then I mixed the color for the overglaze and brushed it on. I got the color right on the first try, which was nice. Sometimes it takes two coats to build up the color to a match. Once that was dry, I applied a coat of satin varnish. Voila! Finished door. Total time: about 14 hours.

Here’s my bible when it comes to wood graining and other decorative finishes, “The Art of Faux.” The author, Pierre Finkelstein, offers classes in wood graining and other techniques. His workshops are fantastic.

Another excellent book is Professional Painted Finishes, which was written by the founders of The Finishing School, a decorative painting school in Floral Park, NY, also with great classes.

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