5 Great Tips for Faux Finish Painting

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faux finish paintingFaux painting or finishing refers to styles of painting that replicate other kinds of material such as marble or wood. In recent years, the term has been used to suggest a still wider range of options for decorative finishes to walls and furniture. This might be just the kind of low cost style boost that you need for your home improvement project. So, if you’re interested in how to do faux painting, here are some decorative painting techniques to help you achieve your faux finish painting goals.

5 Great Tips for Faux Finish Painting

1. Test Run: If you aren’t quite sure if the faux approach is right for you or you’re a little nervous about your abilities or the outcome, invest in some scraps of drywall, prime them, and then have a few trial runs. You’ll get better the more you try and eventually you’ll hit upon the techniques that work best for your desired look. It can be a messy experiment, though, so dress appropriately.

2. Using the Sponge: This is a simple decorative painting technique and can be done with one or more colors.  Start by painting your walls with the base color that you want. After allowing them to thoroughly dry, you can create many color combinations. For a tone-on-tone effect, a lighter or darker tone of the base coat works well. The more adventurous approach would be to try two or more colors that complement each other to create an attractive wall blend.

Once the base color dries, apply the accent colors with a natural sea sponge. For best results, you want the sponge to be wet but have excess water wrung out of it before dipping it into the paint, after which you also want to squeeze out any excess paint, as well.  When you examine the sponge you’ll see distinct individual characteristics on each side of it.  Chose the side that most appeals to you. Be sure the side you prefer is puffed up and extended from your grip.  Apply the paint to the wall as you delicately press the sponge onto the surface. You don’t want to compress the natural detail of the sponge or it will hide the natural patterns that you want to emphasize.

With each new press of the sponge you can twist the direction of your hand to manipulate the pattern.  Reapply paint to the sponge as needed to keep the color consistent. Here’s a good tip: if there are two of you doing the job, it’s a good idea to swap positions every so often, as it is unlikely that your techniquqes will be identical and you probably don’t want to see the distinctly different results on different areas of a wall. If you switch every once in a while your slightly different styles will blend together and even complement one and other. When using multiple colors, allow each to dry before applying any additional color.

3. Ragging “on” the job. This is a decorative painting technique similar to the sponge, using natural cloth rags or even inexpensive painters rags to apply the paint. Once the base coat is dry, apply the accent colors, as we saw with the sponge. For ragging, though, you might find the accent color paint to be a bit thick for the technique.  If so, mix one quart faux glaze to one gallon of paint to thin the color.

Bunch up the cloth rag in your hand; this will create lots of peaks and valleys in the cloth. This will allow you to create a pattern on the wall. Dip the rag into the paint, then apply it to the wall in a delicate stamping motion. You should twist your hand with each addition press to the wall. This creates a blend of detailed patterns. Reapply the paint to the rag as needed. It’s also a good idea to re-gather the rag in your hand to maintain control over the pattern to get the effect you want.

4. Ragging “off” the job: A slightly different approach to faux finish painting is to rag off, rather than the ragging on approach above. Apply the base coat and allow it to dry thoroughly. At that point, using the ragging off method, you should mix your accent color with a faux glaze to create more transparency and extend the drying time. Apply the accent color with a roller and work in manageable areas, corner to corner, so you do not end up with distinct lines of areas as they dry. Once you’ve applied the accent in this manner, use a clean and dry rag gathered in your hand and stamp out the pattern, thus removing paint from the surface and “ragging off.”

Both “ragging on” and “ragging off” will create distinct aesthetic effects. Both are quite lovely but the design preference is totally up to you. Remember the suggestion in tip one about experimenting.

5. Wet Blends: Yet another way to go is with wet blends. This technique creates color and movement on a wall’s surface with several paint brushes and two paint colors.  This is used is used to give depth, texture, and movement to an otherwise simple surface.

Cover a large wall area with 4” brushes using two tones of the same color paint. Apply the paint with very wet brushes, dampened with water, to keep the paint moving smoothly on the surface. First dip the brush in the paint then dip it briefly in the water so it has sufficient moisture to move fluidly over the surface.  Each brush should be dedicated to one color. Keeping them separate will require regular rinsing, since they will tend to quickly blend together. Use an “X” pattern for the first color.  Once a small area is covered, use the second brush and color and come to all sides of the first color section. The water and the wet paint blend areas together, creating smooth transitions between the colors. This will give the surface and color a feel of movement and depth.

Keep a clean damp brush handy that you can use on areas where you’re not getting the desired blending effect as smoothly as you’d like. Remember to work in sections between corners. You don’t want to end up with distinct areas of stopping and starting. Again, if working with a partner, it is extremely important to swap areas to keep the overall effect consistent.

This is a technique that can create some beautiful, stylish and striking finishes. If you’re interested in how to do faux painting, we hope these tips on decorative painting techniques help you achieve your faux finish painting goals.

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