In the last 10 years, faux painting techniques have gone from
obscure to popular, from the realm of professionals to
do-it-yourself projects. These techniques are not difficult
although they can be time consuming (what decorating or
remodeling project isn’t though) and require quick hands.
Called “faux” painting because these techniques mimic or create
a false look of stone, texture, leather, and more, you will find
that the styles fall into one of two types: additive or
subtractive. Additive (also called positive) techniques simply
mean that you add color onto the wall. Sponging is the most
common of this type. Conversely, subtractive (also referred to
as negative) techniques means you take paint off after it has
been applied. Ragging is a common subtractive technique. Most
negative techniques use glazes and require that you move quickly
before the glaze dries.
When it comes to glazes, there are two types: latex (water
based) or oil based. Latex is by far easier since it cleans up
with soap and water, but oil based glazes provide longer working
times and generally provide a harder, more durable finish.
However, for do-it-yourselfers, I recommend latex glazes and
working in small areas at a time. I have also seen solutions
that you can add to the glaze to lengthen the working time. For
your first glazing job, you may well want to consider using this
additive available at finer paint supply stores.
Here are the various type of faux painting techniques:
Sponging: Probably the easiest method, you apply paint to a wall
with a natural sea sponge. It provides a richly textured look.
In addition to good looks, it’s a simple way to camouflage an
uneven or repaired crack wall. Use a couple of colors over the
base paint to add greater depth. Be bold or subtle; it’s up to
you. You can use glaze or paint just as easily with this
technique. I’ve seen this done in a negative manner, but it is
most commonly performed as a positive method.
Ragging/Rag rolling: Typically a negative technique, you paint a
tinted glaze over the base painted walls. The glaze should be
tinted darker than the base coat, keeping in the same color
family as the glaze allows some color through it as well. Either
use a wadded up dry rag or twist a rag into a cylinder. Then dab
or roll the rags to remove the glaze. You can use one or two
colors over the base coat. You may also do this in a positive
method like sponging for a softer look and texture.
Color Washing: In this additive technique, you apply the tinted
glaze mixture over the base coat using a circular motion as if
you were washing the wall. Use rags for a very soft look or a
natural sea sponge for a more textured appearance.
Strié: Create a historical and aged texture to the wall, with
this negative method. Roll tinted glaze over the base coat, then
use a wall paper brush to make fine lines from top to bottom.
The glaze should be darker than the base coat to allow the
lighter base to show through the fine lines.
Striping: The only difficult part of this positive technique is
getting your stripes straight. Be sure to use a level or drop a
plumb line. Tape off your stripes, then paint every other one
with glaze. If you use a bold color, you do not need to tint the
glaze to get a delightful two-tone effect. For softer colors,
you may wish to slightly darken the glaze although it is not
necessary. This technique may also be combined with color
washing as you color wash the stripes for more interest and
texture. Of course, for a more dramatic look, you can use paint
in complementary or various colors.
Dry Brushing: This is a positive method in which you use a small
amount of paint on a brush in herringbone patterns to create the
texture. You will need tow or three colors to achieve the best
Frottage: Using plastic sheets for this negative method, tinted
glaze is applied over the base coat and then plastic sheets are
applied and smoothed over the glaze. Once the wall is done, the
plastic sheets are removed for a marbling effect.
Faux finishes can provide interest and texture to your rooms –
and less expensively than wall paper. While you may need to
block out a full day to do the work, by the end of the day, you
can sit back and admire the rich, luxurious look of your new