Camouflage: How to Make PVC Look Like Wood!

Camouflage: How to Make PVC Look Like Wood!


There are a limitless number of things that you can do with PVC pipe, and these projects can make life a lot easier out in the field or during a prolonged crisis.  However, one of the biggest problems associated with PVC is that it sticks out like a sore thumb due to its color.  One way to solve this problem is to camouflage the material by making it look like wood.  This can cause it to blend in with the surrounding scenery better and help to minimize your footprint.  The good news is that the process is not complicated, and you can customize it as you go. 

Required Items:


Metal file (the bigger the better)

Coarse sandpaper

Wire brush

Face mask

Oil paint for coloring the “wood”

Getting Started

The first step is to put on your face mask and start sanding down the PVC.  You want to keep sanding until the outer, smooth layer has been removed, along with any ink markings or labels.  If you are having trouble getting rid of the ink, try applying some nail polish remover or acetone with a cloth and buffing it out.  Keep sanding until the entire section of PVC is coarse and consistent throughout.  The mask is important because a lot of dust will be generated during the sanding, and you don’t want to inhale this synthetic material.



Once you’ve sanded down the PVC, wipe it with a damp towel to get rid of any remaining dust.  Next, take your file and start scoring the material.  While you want to file down most of the surface of the PVC, you also want to make it as natural-looking as possible.  File in different directions, leave some gaps untouched, and create longer lines in some places and shorter ones in others.  Keep in mind that the file will shred the PVC, and this will leave some sharp barbs, protrusions and edges.  You may want to wear a pair of work gloves to avoid scratching your hands as you work on the segment.

There is also a good chance that the file will get clogged as you work your way around the PVC.  Take the wire brush and use it to remove material that gets stuck between the teeth of the file.  Keep repeating as necessary and discard the shavings.  You can also use the brush to add some texture to the PVC as well.  When done filing the crevices, take the smoother side of the file and buff out the rough spots and protrusions.  Then, take the sandpaper and give it a final smoothing down.  Wipe down the segment and let dry before applying the paint.


You can use any oil-based paint and a cloth to color the PVC.  You have a limitless number of options when choosing and mixing colors, but aim for a shade that will blend in with the surrounding area whenever possible.  Simply apply some paint to the tip of the towel, and start working your way around the segment.  You can go in straight lines, blot certain sections or gently roll the towel around the PVC.  There are a lot of different techniques that you can use, and feel free to experiment as you go in order to create the best effect based on your needs. 


All you need to do now is let the paint dry and you’re good to go.  You may want to consider color before you assemble the PVC pieces when working on a project.  This will make it easier to prepare the PVC and add color to the segments.  However, you can achieve similar results by improvising on how to prepare and color finished projects as well, but it may take some additional time and effort.  In any case, this simple technique can prove to be invaluable out in the field, and it’s worth practicing now so you will know how to put it to use later. 


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