How to Make Wood Look Like Plastic? We’ve Found Out

Unexpectedly, many people have been asking us how we can make wood look like plastic with the help of different instruments like waxing, polishing, painting, using polyurethane, and many other products. We’ve decided to prepare an article that will answer this question. Unfortunately, it will not take us one minute and 100 words to answer.

First of all, you should understand that a wooden surface will still look like wood although it may have a plastic-like structure. You will need to work with your wood for a long time to achieve the needed smoothness and some other important features. But you have to understand why you need this because you will invest a lot of time and effort.

We’ll be speaking today about the following:

  1. How can you make wood look like plastic?
  2. Products you will have to use in the process.
  3. Step-by-step instruction on turning wood into “plastic”.
  4. What can go wrong in your project?

Let’s get started!

Here are some ways to make wood look like plastic

First of all, we have to say that we are working with bare wood. It’s not MDF or any other material that is already smooth and is ready to be covered with some materials. If you want your bare wood to look like plastic, you will need to work a lot. And you will have to buy some instruments and products for this.

We recommend preparing your wood as well as you can. For example, you can try to give a wooden project a plastic view just by applying numerous coats of some products we’ll recommend later in this article. But you better take your sandpaper and sand this wood for a long time to make the surface really beautiful.

Here are some methods we can think of:

  1. Sanding till your hand drops. This is an important phase whatever product you choose because your project should be smooth as plastic.
  2. Covering your project with some poly or any other material that will shine a little and give even more smoothness. It’s an important part, too.
  3. Using polymerized materials that actually resemble plastic when they are fully cured. It’s not always that easy to find something like this for wood.
  4. Applying oils that may make your wood look shiny. Sometimes, you can do all the job just with the oils, but it won’t be as good as with some polymerized materials.
  5. Applying paint with a plastic finish. This is probably one of the most obvious versions. You should just paint the wooden project with a material that will resemble plastic in the end.

We would choose a polymerized material or paint for this. But we would also do some sanding job in order to make the project as smooth as possible. You shouldn’t apply any materials right on the natural wood grain because it will lead to an uneven surface. The smoothness is very important if you want that plastic look.

Also, we would prime the wooden surface with some good primers if we used paint. Acrylic paint should be the best option for this, but you can use any paint that will give the glossy effect eventually. If you want to understand how the project will look after you paint it, remember those classic electric guitars. They are as smooth as calm water and they really seem to be made of plastic.

Why will you need wood to look like plastic?

We were surprised when we were first asked to show the technology of making real wood look like plastic. But our astonishment wasn’t very long because people kept asking about it. First of all, they could be making their own projects of guitars, or they could be restoring old guitars. Also, some furniture elements made of wood will look better if they have this glossy plastic look.

So, you may need this simple technology for a lot of projects and you better remember how to achieve a plastic look if you have a wooden project in your hands. This will not take you a lot of time or money. But it’s very important to make everything without mistakes. Otherwise, you will have to redo the job and spend more time and money on your project.

Here’s how we would make a wooden thing look like plastic

The first thing you need is a proper piece of wood. Not all wood types are OK for this task. A lot of wood will still show some grain even after thorough sanding. So, the hardwood species are OK, but any softwood will not suit your needs. It’s important, you may just spend a couple of days and see that the results are too bad.

After you have proper wood for your project, you need to do all the preparation work. We mean, you need to shape the piece like you want it to look just before you actually do anything with its surface.

The process of giving wood a plastic look is the following:

  1. Sand it thoroughly. The final sanding should be completed with fine sandpaper to ensure that the surface is as smooth as you can make it.
  2. Clean it from any dust. You may use different methods, but not just cleaning with a rug. Use alcohol or something to ensure that the surface is not greasy or dusty.
  3. Cover the surface with a primer if you want to paint it in the end. If you aren’t going to paint anything, you may use different stains to color your wood the way you need.
  4. After that, you will need to apply the material you want. It may be paint or some glossy finish like polyurethane or lacquer.
  5. Let the wood rest for a while. The duration of the needed rest depends much on the type of material you choose for your project. Every material has its own recommendations.
  6. Inspect the surface and think whether you can redo some spots or correct something to make it look even more beautiful.

If you don’t have any experience in woodworking, you will have to redo the project many times until you get the glossy finish that will look just like plastic. Also, the quality of your materials is extremely important. You can’t achieve wonderful results if you just use some cheap materials and bad instruments.

Always read instructions when you apply a certain material. This will help you avoid many problems in the process of working with your wood. Many people want to spend less money on materials and then get great results. With woodworking, it’s impossible.

Can you make your finish more glossy?

For making your wood finish glossy like plastic, you should use varnish or lacquer. These materials are the best for this task. We would choose a lacquer that you can spray onto the wood because it’s hard to apply the lacquer with a brush in such a way that the finish was glossy and smooth.

Spray lacquers are widely spread and not very expensive now, so you may get them easily. Varnish can be applied with a high-quality paintbrush because it will anyway form a smooth surface once applied correctly.

Also, we know some other important things:

  • you shouldn’t touch the surface once the work is done – you can’t fix anything, just redo the job completely if something goes wrong;
  • you should be careful with any tips that recommend you wet-sanding the surface after the lacquer is applied – this won’t help at all;
  • be careful with the choice of products – you shouldn’t rely on suggestions of one person, read the reviews and descriptions;
  • obey the instructions you will read on the cans with materials – these are the best instructions on how to apply these products;
  • prepare the area where you are going to work – it shouldn’t be dusty or too wet when you start working with your wood.

Unfortunately, doing a good job in a dusty room or just outside is impossible. The dust will stick on the surface once you finish and the final look will not be very smooth and glossy. It will not look like plastic this way.

Also, if you are working in a room with high humidity or low temperature, the materials can take longer to cure and they may just change the way they look. This is something you should remember when preparing for the job.

Final words

Making wood look like plastic is not that simple. You have to know what materials to choose, how to apply them, and what conditions to have in your workshop. These factors are all important and they will influence the results you get.

Remember that a plastic look is something very special. Yes, it will look cool when you finish but you also need to understand that this look suits your project. Sometimes, all the work and money we put into this project seem to be wasted when the final look doesn’t suit our main goal.