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Oak Wood

Oak is a common species of wood that is replicated using faux bois techniques.  Learn more about this wood to enhance your work.  See also: oak graining tools


With over 300 species of oak worldwide, oak can be found in most climates.  At one time, oak was the most prevalent species and also one of the longest-lived species in European forests, often enduring for many centuries.

Oak’s extreme hardness, strength, and unusual ability to harden in water without suffering any adverse physical changes made it extremely desirable for shipbuilding.  It was also a favorite among cabinetmakers, as fine details can be carved into it easily.  In fact, most 18th century wall paneling was made from oak.  Today, oak is more expensive but is still a favorite for making furniture, cabinetry and flooring.


Here are some versions of oak that are likely to be used in architecture (and therefore, replicated with paint):

  • English, French, German, Hungarian, and American species of oak are best suited for imitation.
  • Young wood (light yellow-brown),
  • Mature wood (medium yellow-brown)
  • Old wood (brown).  The older the wood, the wider the boards and the more impressive the grain patterns.

BLEACHING AND PICKLING OAK:  Real oak can be artificially aged by bleaching it.  The oak is washed with a bleaching agent such as oxalic acid, then scrubbed with a wire brush and rinsed with water to raise the grain and deepen the pores.

Pickling takes this process one step further.  After the bleaching and sealing/staining the oak, an application of a thick wash of titanium white or zinc white paint/stain is applied.  After letting it set, the excess is wiped off with a pad, so that the white paint remains only in the pores.