Wednesday, January 30, 2013

$3 Faux Bois Shower Curtain Rod*

I just couldn't look at that shower door anymore, but removing it seemed counter productive and I had that sample shower curtain that inspired the whole redecoration of the upstairs bathroom so I needed to hang it.  Easier said than done.  The tension rod I had moved with us doesn't get short enough and locally I didn't find one that would.  One of the local Helpful Hardware Folks suggested a cafe curtain tension rod which I thought was ridiculous.

The whole point was aesthetic and this didn't work for me.

So, I went home and tried it.  It seemed strong enough, but I just couldn't handle the look.  So, I figured I could get a length of lightweight pipe, faux bois it up.  Like a boss.

Yup, that's a PVC pipe all right.

I went to Home ReSource (a similar thing to Portland's ReBuilding Center) with a shower curtain ring to make sure I got the right size.  I paid $1 for this length of 3/4" PVC and I paid the cutting fees ($2) to get a nice clean cut on either end since I no longer have any power saws.  I cleaned it well, sanded it lengthwise so any scratches would help simulate grain, then applied primer, again lengthwise so any ridges or grooves would work with the grain.

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That's the same cafe curtain tension rod, this time mounted at the top of the stairs (before Ramon came to live, well not live, with us).

I could work on one end then the other when priming and even when painting, but not when glazing, so I jury rigged this setup to use from this point on.  From there I painted two coats of Benjamin Moore's Chestertown Buff (HC-9) which I had on hand to sample for the living room (it didn't make the cut).

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There she is with 2 good coats of the base color.  Yup.

Next came a layer of burnt umber glaze using Proceed Full-bodied Glazing Texture, applied with a chip brush then and given a sort of striĆ© with another chip brush and left to dry completely.  Professional glazing media take much, much longer to dry than house paint and especially craft paint. With the temp and humidity in our house, I let this go about 16 hours.

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It looked plenty wood-y, but I wanted to tone down the stripes a bit.

After that, I just did a light all over glaze to make the striae a little more subtle.  I used a chip brush to apply a generous amount of glaze, then gently rubbed the length of pipe with a folded paper towel redistributing and removing some of the glaze.

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The first shot I took had the pipe parallel with the grain on the floor and you could hardly see the pipe.  Sweet!

The glaze leaves a shiny finish and I although the Pergo floor is shiny, the real wood wainscot is flat or matte.  I liked the idea of a duller finish better for a more rustic look and I wanted to protect the glazed surface from both moisture generated by the shower and from wear generated by the curtain rings.  I had some Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish Exterior and put about 4 coats of that on, drying completely between each coat and giving it a super light sanding with 320gr with each coat after the second.

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All installed and ready for action... the action of holding up a shower curtain.

One of the trickiest parts of making a convincing faux bois in this style (which isn't true faux bois, but more like faux faux bois) is choosing the base color.  I didn't have anything in my stock that was right for really matching the floor or the wainscot, but I did have something that would match this lighting chain I picked up to use for another project.

This is another Home ReSource find that I plan to use to refurbish the light fixture in the stair well using pretty much this same technique and the same materials.  In the meantime it was a great resource for finding a close-enough base color.

And how the rod looks when you're standing in the room; pretty much like wood.  YEY!  And whew!

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*One thing that comes from having been a decorative painter, DIYer, and crafty type for years is that I already have a bunch of materials and tools.  If that were not the case, this surely would not have been a $3 project.  But, I do believe that similar results could be achieved using less expensive materials, readily acquired at a craft store.


  1. That looks like wood!! Way cool. I could never replicate that so I'd go get a tree branch or somethin'

    1. I bet you could do it! Easier than hollowing out a branch to get a tension rod through it. WAY easier. ;)

  2. An ornate wooden curtain rod is just not going to do the trick if you are planning to hang light colored 'summery' curtains.


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