How to Paint a Faux Stone Wall
Creating the impressive look of a faux stone wall is much easier than you might think. Stone adds an element of warmth to any space, and can cover a number of wall imperfections. But it isn’t always practical (or penny-wise) to lay real stone. That’s where learning faux stone wall painting comes in handy.
In just six steps, you can transform an ordinary wall into a beautiful stone wall that adds depth and drama to any room.
Here are just a few common areas to apply the faux stone wall technique:
- Patio wall
- Garden area
- Breakfast nook
- Dining area
With so many areas that you can use faux stone to embellish, it’s a very versatile technique.
By varying the size of the stones, the color of the grout and the color of the stone, you can really change the impression of the faux stone wall- making it appropriate for an outside patio wall or an intimate dining area.
Tools and materials to paint a faux stone wall
- Drop cloth or other protective material for work space
- Tools to remove switch plates, etc. from wall
- Sharp razor knife (optional)
- One or more rolls of blue painters tape (more than one roll if you’re painting a large area)
- Latex wall paint in satin finish (quart or gallon, depending on area size)
- Various brushes; artist brushes, regular paint brushes and softening brushes.
- Paint roller
- Paint trays (one for the latex paint and one for each color of glaze)
- Three sea sponges
- Measuring tape
- Glaze colors (three different colors is a good start)
- Cheese cloth
- Clean cotton rags
6 Steps to painting a faux stone wall
1 – Prepare the wall. Be sure your wall is clean, and use blue painters tape to tape off molding or framing that you don’t want to be painted. Remove pictures, switch plates, etc.
2 – Paint the basecoat. The basecoat will serve as the grout color for your stone. Use a paint roller to cover the entire wall with a latex paint that is a neutral color (cream or light beige for example.) I recommend using a satin or eggshell finish for best results.
3 – Tape the grout lines. The grout lines will form the shape of the stones. You can draw (freehand) the shapes, use paper templates or simply apply tape for a good looking random pattern. Using 1/2″ – 3/4″ blue painters tape, tape off the grout lines.
For an interesting more realistic look use a sharp razor knife to carefully cut the edge of the tape removing some for a rougher appearance. Try to produce a variable width for the grout.
For a brick-like appearance; using a tape measure, start at the floor and measure up the wall, making light pencil marks at intervals where you want the grout lines. Using a tape measure will help ensure the tape is applied evenly across the wall, and at uniform intervals. Consistency will help you achieve the professional faux stone wall you desire. I like the look of how brick is stacked, so I tape my grout lines to mimic an off-set or staggered brick wall.
Tip: It’s usually best to chose smaller stones/bricks (and thinner grout) for rooms of a small size, and larger stones/brick (and wider grout) for larger rooms.
4 – Sponge on the glaze. Prepare glaze as directed on the container, and pour into paint trays. Using a variety of complimentary colors on each stone (three is a good start) will add to the appearance of depth. Chose colors that are darker than the basecoat. Stone by stone, sponge on the glaze, working from the perimeter of the block inward. Heavier glaze on the edges will help create dimension. Dab the glaze with the natural sea sponge to create texture.
While you want the overall look of the wall to be uniform, try not to make each stone look the same. You can use a different sponge for each color glaze, or use the same sponge for all glazes. When the sponge becomes heavy with glaze, squeeze out the excess and blot the sponge dry. Tip: Pat the glazed stone gently with dampened cheesecloth to soften the glaze, giving it a more natural look.
5 – Shading the painted stone. To get a more realistic 3-dimensional look use simple shading techniques. Imagine light hitting your new faux stone wall. One side of the stone will be lighter than the rest. Mimic this look. Examples of shading- One side of each stone can be slightly darker; you can use crisp lines for better definition. The edge of the stones will be darker where they meet the grout. This will ‘lift’ the stones off the wall give dimension. Shading glaze is very thin and slightly darker than the dominate color. A good formula for shading glaze is 1 part paint – 2 parts glaze – 2 parts water, this will be a wash. Use fan shaped artist brushes for fine lines.
6 – Remove the tape. Gently, slowly, remove the blue painters tape. The grout lines will now be exposed.
Tips for designing a fabulous faux stone wall
While faux stone wall painting is a relatively easy faux panting technique it doesn’t hurt to get a few guidelines from the pros. Here are 5 tips to keep in mind as you undertake painting a faux stone wall:
- Colors. Choose grout and stone colors that compliment one another, and choose realistic stone colors. Also, the bigger contrast between grout and stone color, the more dramatic the effect, the less contrast, the more mild the effect. So color choice is a critical step in capturing just the look you hope to achieve. It takes a bit of trial and error, but don’t be discouraged; the right combination will be well worth the effort.
- Stone size and shape. Be sure the stone size is appropriate for space. Smaller stones in smaller rooms, larger stones for larger rooms. Create a mock-up on a large piece of foam board and hold it up to the wall to determine the correct stone size. The shape can be brick like or random sizes/shapes.
- Stone layout. Chose a stone layout that you’ve seen used by masons on a real stone or brick wall. This gives your design authenticity. Remember that your stones don’t all have to be the same size- mix it up a bit if you’d like, but stay consistent.
- Layer paint. In an effort to create the most genuine stone look, apply paint in layers. Let each layer dry before moving on to the next. Remember, using a few different (yet complimentary) colors will offer the most authentic results.
- Shading. Shading is very important. Experiment with the suggestions in step 5. Choose a spot in the room to serve as your imaginary light source. Shade each stone accordingly.
- Splattering. Natural stone has variable colors, patterns and textures. It is never the same twice. To help give a more natural appearance splatter 2 or more colors onto the faux stone surface before removing the tape. Use thin washes for the splattering.
- To add physical pattern and dimension you can skim a rough coat of drywall mud where each stone will be before applying the stone base color. Use a flexible 1-1/2 or 2 inch putty knife and leave the layers and ridges. Allow to dry completely before applying a base color and starting with the glazing.
When done properly, a faux stone wall enhances almost any space. I’ve seen faux stone painting used with the most success when it’s applied to only one wall in a room. But regardless of where you apply it, faux stone wall is a technique that benefits from creativity, so don’t be afraid let your creative juices flow. With that in mind, here’s my parting tip: play with various colors and sponging methods on a piece of foam board before you tackle a wall. I guarantee that your faux stone wall will benefit from a few hours of trial and error.