Painting Doors Dark Brown Wood

by THAT Painter Lady

I don’t have pictures of Mimi’s Faux Wood Grained doors… but I did help her solve some problems she had. It’s all about the process.

This is a copy of the Q and A Mimi and I had to help her solve the problems:

Hi Debra,

I purchased your video to paint my door like wood. I would like to make it darker than the one in your video… I have 8 doors to do.

What color should I use for the base if if want a darker door? Do you have any other hints you can give me to make it dark wood looking.

thanks, mimi

Hi Mimi,

Not knowing exactly what color you are trying to achieve… I’m going to give some basic ideas.

The over glaze is already quite dark… so I wouldn’t try to go darker with that.

You are right to go a bit darker with your “undercoat”.

Most mahogany doesn’t have quite the red in it that Cherry wood does.

The top glaze coats I would try to use a thin glaze of burnt sienna and then you may have to go over that with another glaze of burnt umber.

Here are some color code charts so you can see the difference in colors

I think you should go back to a gold color. Something almost like dark mustard. Not bright gold. This base will be covered almost completely with your glaze coats. But should give a nice warm glow.

The top coats (glaze) in two different steps… should be put on with a china brush (like the video) but not with the slap dash or rough approach. Use a soft hand and long strokes with the glaze. You are trying to achieve the finest grain detail. Almost as if you can’t see the grain it would be so soft and subtle.

That’s why graining with two different glazes would be necessary. One will look a bit sloppy, but two seems to blend and look more like fine furniture.

Of course when you put a top “shiny” coat on… it will look fantastic.

You really want very little red coloration… but you need a hint or
it’s going to look like oak.


China or Natural is a type of bristle. Look for “chip” brush at the hardware store. It’s those cheap throwaway type brushes and they have ragged tips instead of a straight line of bristles.

They work miracles with faux wood graining. And you can grab a few so you don’t have to clean. Just throw away.

I do have to say… that I’ve had the same $1.49 brush for years. It’s almost worn to a nub… but it works so I spend the time to clean it.

Good Luck! Debra

Hi Debra

I wanted to give you an up-date on painting my 8 doors dark brown wood looking…. I used the dark mustard you suggested as a base. when that dried, I mixed 1 cup faux and 1/8 cup burnt sienna tint….

The next day I could peel off the paint, when I would scratch it, I could see the white door …so I peeled and scraped all the paint off, which came off in strips.. so now I put primer on the white door and will try again today with the mustard base…..

The paint I peeled off still wasn’t dark enough – so could I add black?

I want a brown/black finish.

Oh what fun….ha, mimi

Hi Mimi…

The fact that the paint peeled off means that the door was not prepped correctly. You are right to head straight to the primer for rescue. This should solve the paint peeling problem.. Yuck.

Adding black will not make a darker brown… it will make it more “gray”.

You must add in some “raw sienna” or “burnt umber” color tints. Actually… I would head to the paint store and have them add the tints until you get the color you like. It’s cheaper to do that then it is to buy a bunch of tints.

If you have them great… if not – they can get expensive.

Anyway… avoid adding black to the paint unless an expert at the paint store feels that it would create the right color. But in my experience black just make things look dirty and gray – bad results. And you can’t take out the black if you don’t like it. So stick with the browns and umbers.

Hope this helps – Debra


Glad I asked, and thanks for answering so soon…I’m anxious to get these doors done. I will keep you posted.

By the way,  I really like your video and how you write so “regular” and personal. Its very helpful to have someone who speaks plainly to a novice like myself. You have a very clear way of explaining things and the experience to know what your saying.
Thanks so much. m

An Update From Mimi~

Its a good thing i have a good sense of humor…its me, mimi, the hope to finish 8 doors lady.

The saga continues….primed the door, beautiful.

Painted it mustard, also beautiful.

Mixed 1 cup glaze and 1/8 cup tint, start to apply to door and its not spreading well. Cannot feather edges
without leaving streaks, the glaze won’t cooperate and spread evenly.

I swear I’m doing it correctly, I have the right moves, but this glaze is stubborn and won’t go on evenly.

I finished the door hoping all will just correct itself…wrong.

What the h— do I do now?

I felt like the glaze was too thick. (I did stir it like crazy before mixing).

Did you ever get anyone as dumbfounded as me?  I’m determined to do this so can you make any suggestions?

Thanks, your new best friend, mimi

Oh my goodness mimi…. I feel your pain. Really I do.

I try to make this technique as “easy” as possible… but STUFF happens.

If the room is warm it will cut into the “open” time of glaze. It seems as if the air is too warm or too dry the glaze just gets sucked into pudding.

So that could be the problem.

Or… the glaze you are using is an “extra” thick glaze. Some glaze manufactures make thicker glaze mixtures than others.

Stirring a bunch (I mean hard vigorous stirring) will add air into a thick mixture and cause it to dry even faster.

So… the solution.

Sometimes I add water. This isn’t always the best answer, because water dries faster than glaze. It will thin the glaze but you have to work even faster to get the glaze to feather (as you said – good way to explain this).

Sometimes just continuing to add glaze to the mixture is a good option – A bit of glaze every time the mixture begins to feel a bit thick.

Another option.

Try painting just clear glaze on part of the door and then brushing over the top of the clear glaze with your glaze mixture. This might just be the answer to your problem.

Because I’m not right in the room… I can’t see or feel the conditions of the air.

But my guess is you are working in a room that has the heat on nice a warm and this may be the culprit of your headache.

I live in an area where we don’t have cold winters… so we don’t use heaters much.

But we have scorching hot summers… If the air conditioner isn’t set cool enough the glaze starts getting pretty thick… and if of course when we cool it down the dry – conditioned air starts sucking the glaze dry.

Of course… you can purchase some very expensive glazes (not the ones from the hardware store that I use) and they have a longer “open” time. This means they are manufactured to be loosey-goosey for an hour or so.

I just don’t want anyone to have to pay the high price to get results that can be achieved with less expensive products.

Now… get a great big towel and throw it down under the door you have done.

Get some warm soapy water in a bucket and one of those scratchy kitchen sponges. Go to town on that yucky glaze and see how much you can get off with some elbow grease. – you don’t have to get it all off… just get off anything that will come of with some vigorous washing.

Paint it with the basecoat again.

Sit down and have yourself a good break.

And then try it again using some of the suggestions above.

Tip – if the glaze isn’t working for your right from the start. Stop and wipe off what you have done. It won’t get any better as you continue.

The best thing is to try a small spot. If the glaze doesn’t feel like it’s going on like stain… it’s wrong.

Another thing… I have had some “students” tell me they used stain instead of the glaze mixture with fantastic results.

I don’t like stain because it’s smelly – and it doesn’t often hold up as well. But they said with a good sealer over the stain it has held up perfectly.

So… I’ve given you lot’s of options. I hope you will try some and let me know if anything is working.

Thank goodness you have a great spirit and a sense of humor!!! The stories you will be able to tell… but only after you figure out the process that works and everyone is amazed at the results. 🙂

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

bobbie September 6, 2010 at 7:51 am

Thanks, I read this through and I’m thinking I’ve gotten some really good ideas now of what not to do, lol. I’m trying to make my white wood doors a more cherry color. I used to buy kits years go that just had all the stuff in it so I’m in a daze about what to really buy. Sounds like the mustard base is a good shot to begin with, and I’m thinking a stain might just work as well as all this glaze stuff. I think we just used to use a stain or burnt umber something, anyhow, I do know to start in small patches and see what results I get. I’m not sure about the mustard though, I want it to be cherry when I finish not oak. Still looking but would like to start on my day off today.

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