Tips and Tricks

How to Tell Real Wood From Fake Wood

How do you tell real wood from fake wood? Well thanks for asking let me dive in and explain. First off I may refer to fake as faux. Faux is French for fake. It is surprising how well faux wood can be disguised. I will show you some tips on how to spot a fake.

What is Faux finishing? A painting technique to mimic the appearance of a specific wood grain.

There are different ways to create a fake wood I will go through the popular types and explain them. Faux Finishes: using different paints and stains to create a wood grain. Laminate: Is a synthetic materials in thin layers to look like wood.

How to tell if wood has a faux finish

It can be tricky to spot a faux finish especially in photographs so make sure you see the piece in person. One thing I have noticed manufactures do today is faux finish edges and have a veneer top.

First tip is look for perfection. Natural wood is imperfect and not uniform in its appearance. The quarter sawn oak dresser pictured wood grain is perfectly uniform throughout the entire piece.

Look at scratches, sometime the best place to find the answer is in a scratch. If the grain doesn’t appear to be following under the scratch it is most likely a faux finish.

So can a faux finish be painted? Yes. However be cautious of lead paint concerns. Can a faux finish be refinished? Yes. But you maybe surprised what type of wood is underneath. Check out the photo below for the before and after of this faux finished dresser.

How to Spot a Laminate Top

Let me explain what laminate is, as explained above it is synthetic materials in thin layers made to look like wood. The grain type is printed on the laminate to appear like wood.

Laminate tops can be a little easier to spot than a faux finish. Usually there isn’t any lines and the top will be smooth. I have also found on older pieces that the top and the edges can be a different colors.

You may have come here to see if you can paint a laminate top which yes you can. I have done it before but I take different steps to paint a laminate top. Start with rough sanding 80-100 grit sandpaper. I will then use XIM Primer. Sand again with 220 grit then proceed with painting.

Tara Lou

Mama, wife, furniture connoisseur, small business owner, nature-lover, homebody, hunter.

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