How To Wood Grain A Painted Cooler

Wood grain is a very popular look for custom painted coolers and is a super simple technique that guarantees your cooler will look great! Follow along with our step by step tutorial to find out exactly how to wood grain your SratStar ready to paint cooler for your next frat formal!

woodgrain painted cooler lid examples


Step By Step Guide to Wood Grain

The basic concept behind woodgraining your painted cooler is very simple. The woodgrain tool is used to remove certain areas of wet paint that will leave behind an awesome wood grain pattern.woodgrain painted cooler lid

Step 1: Purchase a SratStar Ready to Paint Cooler

Our SratStar Paintable Coolers allow you to paint your cooler right out of the box! Other coolers require hours of prep work that is dirty, expensive, and difficult. 


Step 2: Purchase your woodgrain tool

I ordered my woodgrain tool from amazon. You can get them at craft stores or other retailers!

Woodgrain tool

Step 3: Choose your base and woodgrain color

You will need to choose 2 colors: a base color and a wood grain color. The base color will be the background color and the woodgrain color will be the color that is left behind to reveal the woodgrain patter. Your woodgrain effect is highly dependent upon what colors you choose to use for your base and your woodgrain. Choosing a lighter base and darker woodgrain color allow for a more dramatic woodgrain whereas less contrast between the base and woodgrain colors will result in a more subtle woodgrain texture. 

The base color should be lighter then the woodgrain color to achieve a typical woodgrain look. I chose the espresso color from craft smart for the base color for my painted cooler lid. 

For my woodgrain color, I added a black to my base color to achieve a darker color in the same shade. This technique can also be used to lighten a base color by adding white. 

craft smart espresso paint

Step 4: Apply your base color

Apply your base color and cover apply to the cooler. Leaving some parts lighter and darker gives more dimension to the woodgrain, so it doesn't need to be perfect or uniform, but do make sure there is no white visible. Also, large brush strokes can also add depth to your final woodgrain. Let your base color completely dry before moving on.

woodgrain painted cooler base color

Step 5: Apply your woodgrain color

I watered down my woodgrain color slightly so the woodgrain tool will easily remove the excess paint. Apply your woodgrain color to the entire area where you applied the base color. Your woodgrain color should be darker than the base color. The more contrast between your base and woodgrain color, the more dramatic your woodgrain pattern will be. Do NOT allow your woodgrain color to dry.

Woodgrain color painted cooler

Step 6: Apply your woodgrain pattern

Once you have completely painted over the base color with the woodgrain color, it is time to apply your woodgrain pattern. Drag your woodgrain tool across your painted cooler, removing the excess woodgrain color and revealing the woodgrain.  Rotate the woodgrain tool back and forth every 3-4 inches to get the woodgrain effect. Use one fluid motion from one side to the other for best results. Wipe off your woodgrain tool to remove the paint from the tool before using the wood grain tool on your next row. For our 26Q cooler, I applied 4 rows with my woodgrain tool.

PRO TIP: If you do not like how your woodgrain pattern turned out, you can apply the woodgrain color again over the base color and use the woodgrain tool again. 

Use the woodgrain tool until the entire area is in the woodgrain pattern.

painted cooler wood grain application

Step 7: Allow your pattern to dry

Once you are happy with how your woodgrain looks, allow your cooler to completely dry. 


Step 8: Apply any more design features

After your woodgrain pattern has completely dried, you can apply any other designs that you want over the woodgrain pattern. Many people paint a name or a logo over their woodgrain pattern. You can use our transfer paper to get a logo, decal, or name onto your painted cooler with this post.


Follow along to this Step by Step Tutorial Video

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