Add Drama With a Faux Finish

By Corey (Canada)

Nothing changes the look of a room like a fresh wall treatment. Getting out the paint, placing some drop cloths or rubber mats down on the floor and getting the paint brushes to get started. A simple paint job in a single color with a roller is definitely an option, but it can draw attention to flaws in a less-than-perfect wall. Wallpaper is another option, but it is very expensive and labor intensive. A faux finish is just the thing to disguise imperfect walls while adding drama to any room.

Applying a faux finish is simple and fun. You really can’t make a mistake because the whole point is to achieve a random design. It is not even necessary to have any special tools, just paint and some objects commonly found around any home: newspaper, plastic or paper bags, sponges, a squeegee, a comb – really you can use anything that might leave a distinctive pattern.

There are two basic approaches to faux finishing. The first involves removal of paint; the second involves applying it. A basic removal technique is to paint the wall, and then use a comb, squeegee, crumpled up newspaper, or whatever you want, and sweep or dab it over the wall in a creative pattern. Criss-cross your designs for an even more natural look. For a tone-on-tone effect, paint the wall and let it dry completely. Then, do the removal technique with the second coat. The second method is all about application. Use whatever will make an interesting pattern when wadded up and dabbed onto the wall. A cloth or newspaper will give a more dramatic effect; a natural sea sponge will be more subtle. Put a small amount of paint on your instrument of choice and gently dab or swipe it on the wall. Overlap your work in some places to give an more varied effect. Try a couple of shades of paint for even more drama.

Depending on what kind of paint you choose, you may have to work quickly. Latex paints dry very quickly. Oil-based paints give you more time, but involve much more work when it’s time to clean up. A glaze gives an entirely different effect, and can be used on its own or in combination with paint. Also, consider a wax or top coat to protect a faux finish.

Before committing an entire wall to an inaugural faux finish attempt, practice first on a poster board. It won’t behave exactly like the wall, but it will be close enough to give an idea of what it will look like, and to practice with different mediums.

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