Faux Painting Techniques for Walls

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The purpose of faux painting is to create a surface that mimics a real texture, material or object. Faux painting is an art and takes patience to learn; however, once a technique is mastered, it is an inexpensive do-it-yourself project that can create dramatic effects in home decor.

Faux painting takes patience to learn and execute properly.
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Color washing is a faux paint technique that looks like old limed-washed or fresco walls with soft blended colors. Starting with a single color coat of base paint, the painter then applies thin layers of glaze paint over the base coat with a 4-inch brush in a series of overlapping "X" strokes until the colors blend into the wall and the paintbrush is dry.

Color washing creates soft blended colors on a wall.
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The rag rolling paint technique starts with a single color coat of rolled-on base paint. Once the base coat is dry, the painter dips a damp rag cloth into a new paint glaze color and wrings out the rag to remove dripping paint. The painter then twists the cloth into a a long roll shape and rolls the rag cloth across the surface, leaving a textured paint pattern on the wall.

A twisted rag becomes a tool to apply paint for a textured faux pattern.
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Beginning with a single color coat of base paint, a natural sea sponge is then used as a tool to apply a pattern to a given surface. The painter dips the sponge in glaze paint and then dabs the sponge on a dry surface like a paper bag to remove most of the paint from the sponge. The sponge pattern is created by lightly pouncing (dabbing) the sponge on a surface with the natural sea sponge, working quickly so the glaze does not dry or accumulate in one spot.

The painter should clean and dry the sponge frequently and work in sections to perfect the finish. Multiple layers in different colors can be applied to create depth in the final pattern.

A sea sponge is used to make a pattern on a painted surface.
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Dragging or combing uses a dry paintbrush or a piece of grooved rubber (like a squeegee with teeth cut into it) for the painter's tool. A thoroughly dry base color paint surface is then covered with a medium to thick layer of glaze paint. The painter then drags a dry paintbrush or piece of grooved rubber across the wet glaze to remove the paint in a lined or linen look.

Lined patterns only require one pass of the tool over the glaze. A linen look would require a first pass in one direction (example left to right) and a second pass would cross over the first pass (example top to bottom) to create the faux linen pattern.

Painters can use a squeegee or dry paint brush to drag or comb a faux finish.
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Textured and Venetian plaster techniques are faux finishes with paints that are mixed with plaster, sand or other textured additives. The painter works in small areas and applies the textured paint on the surface with a large spatula in random, overlapping patterns to create a rough or slightly rough final finish. Colors can be mixed in to create greater interest in the texture.

Texture and Venetian plaster finishes mimic the look of textured walls.
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A faux crackle finished is created by laying down a base coat of flat paint and then covering the base coat with a special crackle paint in a single direction. Within a few minutes, the top coat begins to crack and lets the base coat peek through. Crackle finishes are dramatic when using contrasting colors for the base and top coats.

Faux crackle finishes look like old, weathered paint.
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Faux marble treatments are a combination of paint techniques. The painter begins by painting a single color base coat. Once the base has dried, the artist then uses the sponging technique, creating large cascading shapes across the painted surface. Most marbelizing is done with two or more lightly sponged coats on top of each other in different colors. The marble treatment is completed by dipping a dry feather in paint and lightly dragging the feather over the sponged surface to create jagged lines that mimic cracks in marble.

The are many variations in marbelizing; some painters using brush or rag techniques in lieu of sponging or in addition to the sponging.

Marbelizing is a faux finish that mimics the pattern of natural stone.
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Trompe l'oeil is the art of creating a decorative finish that fools the eye and tricks a person into seeing an object on the surface that isn't really there. Many trompe l'oeil finishes are done in a whimsical style to draw the viewer into the artwork to try to determine if the item is fake or real. Items like windows, curtains and furniture are popular trompe l'oeil subjects; however, the selection of items to faux paint in this style is unlimited.

Trompe l'oeil is a faux finish of an object that tricks the eye.
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