Faux-wood flooring finish on MDF — Building Dollhouses with Real Good Toys' Dollhouse Kits

Faux-wood flooring finish on MDF - Building Dollhouses with Real Good Toys' Dollhouse Kits

Faux-wood flooring finish on MDF

Ive been doing a taped assembly of a General Store Kit. just checking the parts to make sure everything fits the way its supposed to, and, as luck would have it, a builder emailed me to ask how to do faux-wood finishing on MDF (and here I have an MDF floor right in my hand).  What a good subject for a demo!

The Faux-wood finish has to be applied before assembly of the General Store.  Heres the process:

Surface preparation:  Sand the grooves and surface with fine sandpaper (320 grit aluminum oxide is perfect)

Paint (semigloss latex) the base color tan or light brown (this is Sands of Time).  Flood the grooves then wipe the paint off, first across the grooving, then in the direction of the boards.  Let the paint dry.

I am scratching a grain pattern in the base paint with coarse sandpaper (80 grit).  The motion is very straight and parallel with the flooring grooves, every pass the whole length of the floor ene-to-end.

Now a sanding prep with fine sandpaper, the grooves and the surface, and a thorough cleaning with a stiff brush.

I am using Minwax PolyShades Burgundy, which is a semi-transparent mix of stain and urethane.  It is a surface stain-plus-finish, not a penetrating stain.  PolyShades Burgundy has a nearly purple tint that is mahogany-like over tan basepaint.  There are many brands and color combinations that will work well for faux-wood flooring; for example, an ivory basecoat and a walnut topcoat can give a pecan wood appearance.  Apply a flooding coat, then wipe it off  first across the grooves, then in the flooring direction.

This is the step that shapes the grain-look. The topcoat is wiped very thin for transparency and the wiping is in full-length light whisks in the direction of the boards.  The base paint shows through and gives definition to the grain-look.  Let the topcoat dry completely.

A final smoothing with fine sandpaper, and a final finish with hard pastewax or satin urethane.  Here Im using Butchers Bowling Alley wax, and brushing out the finish for a soft sheen.



This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 5th, 2009 at 12:23 pm and is filed under Construction Techniques. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response. or trackback from your own site.

11 Responses to Faux-wood flooring finish on MDF

[. ] Plywood Floors Demo Faux Wood Floor Finish on houses with MDF floors: JM 1065, JM 975,  Demo: Faux Wood Flooring on a General Store Strip Flooring Demo: Wallpaper and Strip Flooring Baseboard and Crown Molding part [. ]

Iam working on the Georgetown dollhouse and the flooring is MDF and I would like to try the faux wood finish. My MDF flooring does not have the grooves that you have shown how to do. Any suggestions.

gary_r Says:

You can make a nice grooved pattern using a heavy yard stick and an awl. Lay out the grooving pattern along each edge, maybe at 1/2 intervals. Then, with a helper holding the yardstick firmly to keep it from slipping, scribe down its length with the awl, scratching a line in the MDF floor. Dont push too hard on the first pass, just enough to get a scratch without slipping. Do several passes, each time pressing harder now that the scratch is deep enough to help guide your awl and slipping is less of a risk. It may take 10 or 15 passes before you have a deep groove youll know its deep enough if you can fold your sandpaper and run the edge down the groove as shown above, and the sandpaper tracks in the groove. Now move the yardstick to the next pair of marks and do the grooving process again, etc. until the floor is done.

Hi Gary, Went to Lowes and Home Depot and found Minwax Poly Shades but could not find a stain that was not a penetrating stain. The instructions said not to use over paint. The clerks spent quite a bit of time with me trying to find a stain that wasnt penetrating. finally told them I would contact you for further info.

Thank you, Beverly

gary_r Says:

Minwax Polyshades is urethane and stain mixed, and as such, it is a non-penetrating stain. It is the product that was used for the demo in the blog. Another brand is Benwood which is the same kind of product from Benjamin Moore.

Making faux-wood flooring is not what the manufacturer envisioned when they developed the product their instructions wont be useful for what you are doing. But that product is the one in the blogs photos, so you can see exactly how it was used for the effect achieved.

You have brought up an important point, one that I am glad is being clarified. You are being an artist when you sculpt woodgrain with urethane/stain, not a furniture refinisher, so dont let their directions sidetrack you. Without your artistry, the process of simulating wood grain wont give the desired effect.

I have a hint for making the grooves in MDF if you are working alone. I cut three pieces of masking tape and folded them to become double sided tape and put them on the back of my heavy yardstick. Then by placing the yard stick on your flooring and use one hand to draw lines with the awl and the other hand on the yard stick. The yard stick does not slip and my grooves came out perfectly on a 28 x 19 floor. Not one slip.

sj ciraulo Says:

Im going to try this technique on my bannisters. Your directions are fabulous..lets just hope it turns out that way! thanks for the detailed how-tos!

Diane Suppa Says:


Im going to try this on the porch floor. I have the farmhouse Jr special addition. I bought oak poly shades. What color do I use for the base coat. Im using this on MDF



I have been using Minwax WoodSheen and Minwax Express Color for stain in this process with excellent results. It is what I now recommend.

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