Faux Finishing Your Interior

How to replicate expensive materials in your home

What is the meaning of faux painting? "Faux" is French for fake. Faux painting has been used for interior paintings for centuries. The technique has been utilized to replicate materials such as marble and wood. Today faux painting encompasses all techniques employed for decorative paint technique.

Faux painting has evolved over the centuries. In the 1980s and 1990s wallpapering has somewhat lost its appeal and new homeowners preferred to have their interior walls treated with faux painting. What is so appealing about faux painting is that some styles are so easy even a child can do it. Though there are faux painting styles that need to be done by a professional, for the most part, any DIY-er can do faux painting.

Special effects and special paints can be utilized in your homes for a more distinctive look. To introduce gentle colour you can apply a less intense and non-uniform finish. This could be done by using paint techniques such as stippling, sponging, distressing and ragging. These techniques diffuse colour without shade dilution. You get the same shade but the colour is less intense and has special effects too. These techniques might sound so daunting but they are not.

If you want a more intense shade, you can achieve that by colour washing. The technique calls for layers if diluted paint applied on a surface. If you want some shine on your wall, applying a layer of lacquer would do wonders.

Kinds of Faux Finishing

There are many types of faux finishing that is available today. It used to be that only qualified faux painters can do the art. Some faux painting techniques are easy. Some would take a lot of effort and "practice" to perfect. Others have to buy a special paint and roller, apply the paint and presto! - a faux-paint finished wall. This type of paint is expensive and if you are not skilled enough to apply the paint, then that is money down the drain. Here are some easy step by step ways to faux finishing your house.

  • Faux Finish Washing- You will need for basecoat latex satin paint; for topcoat later satin paint, rags, and painter's tap. Select your basecoat and topcoat with the former usually brighter. Choose satin paint and colours that are similar in hue - beige and white, with beige as the basecoat and the white applied as topcoat. Both colours should be of the same intensity of hue. Paint on the basecoat (beige) according to instructions. Once the basecoat is finished you may start to apply the topcoat by using a rag. Dip the rag into the can of the topcoat paint then bring it closer to the wall. Apply the topcoat paint with a swirling motion. Work from top to bottom. Check your "swirls" from time to time to see if your painting is even. If you cannot do one wall straight, then better set a time for you finish one wall. Once you're done, check for mistakes such as uneven swirls and paint concentration.
  • Dragging - For this faux finish you need a roller, dragging tool, paint for base colour and glaze for top coat and of course paint to mix the glaze. You need two colours: one for the base paint and the other one for the glaze. The colour of the paint for the glaze can be of the same colour of the glaze or plain white. Paint the wall with a satin or semi-gloss and let dry. Mix one part paint with four parts of glaze. Section the surface to be painted in two feet increments. Paint the glaze on the two-foot section of the wall top to bottom. Work quickly. Make sure the dragging tool is at hand. The dragging tool can be a stiff bristled brush, a whisk broom or a wide tooth comb specially fabricated as such. After applying the glaze, pull the dragging tool on the newly painted glaze working from top to bottom. Make sure your hand is steady as any movement will be reflected on the drag. Note that you should clean your tools after every pass to avoid build up of glaze. Continue with the process of painting and dragging. Use colours of the same hue and tone for subtle effects (i.e. cream and powder blue). For a more dramatic effect choose colours that are bold and contrasting (i.e. yellow and orange).
  • Sponging- You will need a sponge (akin to a natural sea sponge), flat latex paint, satin latex paint, paint tray, roller brush, artist brush and paper towels. You need to choose one colour for this project. Once you have chosen the colour, buy that colour in flat and satin latex. Paint the wall with the flat latex using the roller brush. Let the flat latex base colour dry. Once it's dry, pour some satin latex paint on the tray, slightly wet your sponge, dab it in the satin paint and practice dabbing on something other than the wall. Faux finish sponging is all about dabbing. You need to dab the satin paint on the wall by means of a sponge. Before you start to dab, make sure that all trims and cornices are masked. Start at the centre of the wall and work your way outwards. Check that your "dabs" are soft and light and not blobs of paint. Move your wrist at all directions for more interesting patterns. Use the small artist brush for corners.

There are other ways of faux finishing a wall. You can use stamping or stencilling. You can apply aging and crackling. You can even paint murals on a wall for a more spectacular effect especially when done in one of the walls of the living room.

The rule of thumb in faux finishing is not to be afraid to try something new. If worse comes to worst, you can always reapply the base coat and start all over again.