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Faux Painting Techniques

Faux painting is a method for painting a surface to resemble some natural finished material, such as wood or marble.

Faux painting is a method for painting a surface to resemble some natural finished material, such as wood or marble. 'Faux' in French means 'false', or 'not genuine'. Paint is used to make the plaster, dry wall and other surfaces appear like another material with a veined or grainy look.

In most painting jobs, we strive to make the final result look smooth, unstreaked without any visible surface effects. The paint is spread to completely cover any underlying surface or primer or other color.

Faux painting stands those rules on their heads. Faux painting actually relies on having more than one surface visible, in order to create contrasting looks. Streaks, lines, swirls, blotches and more are essential to creating the faux appearance of veined marble, grainy wood and other natural looks.

Faux painting techniques cover a wide variety, but many are done with a simple sea sponge, a large and porous piece of round sponge. Add two kinds of paint - an ordinary wall paint and a container of Faux Glaze - and you're ready to go.

Faux painting comes in many styles, using a wide variety of techniques, but the results are actually very easy to achieve. For most faux painting applications, simply mix the two paints using 1 quart of regular to 4 parts of glaze. That will cover about 400 square feet of wall space.

For new surfaces, it's best to lay down one coat of base color. Generally, a brighter color such as a pale yellow will do well. That gives a good undertone on which to lay a darker contrast, such as a burnt orange. Or, one could use ivory or pale blue and lay on a faux layer of darker blue or purple to achieve a dark, marbled effect.

In either case, let the undercoat dry well before applying the faux, just as you would for an ordinary painting job using primer and topcoat. Then, get out the sponge.

Dip the sponge into the mixture of paint and glaze then squeeze or scrape off any excess. Faux generally goes on light to achieve that semi-transparent effect. Then sponge over the surface thoroughly. One of the great things about faux painting is you don't have to be as exact as other jobs. Faux is very forgiving.

Once a mottled appearance is achieved, let it dry. That helps you decide whether you will want or need to apply another treatment. It's a matter of personal taste whether you want a kind of watercolor look in which the faux is almost transparent, or whether a denser view is desired.

Other faux effects can be easily achieved using other tools for application. A moist, crumpled rag works well, introducing more streaking than mottling. A comb can be used for narrow, straight lines. A small, thin paint brush is ideal for creating long swirls that emulate marble.

Starting on a test surface is not a bad idea. The back wall of a closet makes for a useful area to try out your technique. If the results aren't what you'd hoped for, it's easy to just roller over the wall with a coat of ordinary paint.