Decorative Paint Effects

Graining, marbling, stencilling and broken colour paint effects explained

The big question of interior decorating is what you want to achieve with the end-result. We will be looking at what you can do to achieve certain effects. Some of the main categories include graining, marbling, stencilling and broken colour (basically the same as graining).

Preparing the Room For Painting

Clear the room if possible and cover that which cannot be moved with plastic sheeting or dropcloths. Remove all electrical faceplates from the wall, but first switch of the power. Put painter's tape over everything that you don't want to be painted. Wallpaper should rather be removed and the surface thoroughly cleaned with abrasive cleaner and left to dry.

Peeling or flaking paint must be scraped off first, but without leaving holes in the process. When wooden surfaces are in bad condition, all the paint should be removed with something like paint-stripping gel. Small holes and dents should be filled with compound, or wood filler when working on wood. Sanding the surface will ensure a smooth finish overall, because some paint techniques can show bad spots quite clearly when finished. Sanding will also ensure that new paint will adhere better. Clean up afterwards and thoroughly wash greasy or soapy films on the surface with appropriate cleaning agents and leave it to dry for 24 hours.

Decorative Painting Techniques

Wood graining is one of the most popular of painting effects, because it saves you the cost of the real wood that you would have to buy to get a certain type of wood finish. Graining is often done with an airbrush, but since few people have access to an airbrush, we'll look at the hand painted method.

Decide which wood finish would best compliment the existing décor of the room and get the specific latex enamel paint in real wood colour. Apply the base coat with a light brown low-gloss latex enamel paint and leave it to dry for 24 hours.

Use a long-bristled paintbrush and slide down the surface slightly at random and slightly rock back and forth from time to time to create the notches and lines. Work your way down in straight columns and let it dry for 24 hours. All the alternative colours must be added before the first paint dries out, or do small sections at a time in order to get a realistic wood grain finish. You might have a problem with the top and bottom edges and practising by repeating the process in reverse is a good solution. Mistakes can be cleaned or repainted later. Cover your work with a transparent polyurethane topcoat and if you apply more than one coat, leave each one to dry for 24 hours.

Marbling can create an amazing effect in a room if you do it right. Oil-based paints works best for marbling and graining, so choose the glaze or latex wash in your colour of choice. Start with applying the sealer undercoat. When that has dried, apply two coats of the base colour glaze- normally eggshell on walls - with a roller and leave it to dry thoroughly. Glaze is a solvent that acts as a vehicle, carrying the pigment in paint.

Apply the background glaze onto the wall with a brush. Then, using the other glaze colours, paint irregular shapes on the wall and blot them with a dry, folded-up rag. Take a small paintbrush and apply some artist's paint on one side of the brush. With the clean side of the brush, draw patterns, as you would find on true marble. As you do that, paint from the other side will come through. Blot these lines also with a dry folded up rag.

When the glaze has dried slightly, take a soft brush or crumpled tissue and blur the patterns with it. Create more veins using cork and blur them also with crumpled tissue. Finally choose a colour paint that will stand out more and apply it with preferably a goose or swan feather, pulling it gently, diagonally and shakily across the surface. Leave it to dry completely and seal it with a varnish.

Decorative Stencilling

Stencilling is another popular finish used especially near the edges. You can cut out your own stencil or buy a design of your choice. If you can master the correct technique you can use a normal brush, but there is a specialised stencil brush for this purpose. It has short, firmly packed bristles, available in different sizes and designed to reduce the chance of paint getting under the stencil.

Secure it to the wall with tape and work from the outside, painting from the edges to the centre and not the other way round. With little amounts of paint at a time, apply a thin coat and wait till dry and apply a second coat - to prevent accidents. Wash the stencil regularly. A sponge or small roller can also be used instead of a brush.