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Faux Finishing | Spring 2006 Out Here Magazine

Heather Spriggs Thomas, a Nashville, TN, designer, suggests trying faux finishing on paper before painting your walls.

Give any room a makeover with paint, glaze, and a few around-the-home tools

By Andrea Estrada

Photography by Donnie Beauchamp

Glance around any room in your house and think what you would like that room to convey. Elegance? Warmth? Light? Cheeriness?

Start with the walls. With the right tools and a few gallons of paint and glaze you can give your walls texture, layers of color, or the look of worn leather.

Indeed, such faux finishing is much easier to do than you might expect.

Faux finishing requires a solid base color, the appropriate glaze for the look you want to create, and materials — brushes, rags, sponges — to transfer the glaze to the wall.

No more difficult than applying a coat of paint, faux finishing can give any room a complete makeover, says Todd Hatfield, a scenic designer for the television and film industries and owner of Artworks, a Nashville, TN-based business specializing in faux finishing and interiors.

Most of the faux finishing effect comes from the amount and type of glaze you use and the means by which you apply it to the wall, he says. Depending on the faux finish, the glaze might be mixed into the paint or applied as an extra coating later.

"You can apply paint with graining combs, plastic bags, or natural sea sponges," he says. "Sheepskin chamois work well and cheesecloth gives a good look."

Ragging, sponging, color streaking, and marbling are just a few of the faux finish looks you can create. Ragging gives a softly mottled or textured effect that leaves a uniform amount of background color. Sponging, one of the easiest techniques, gives texture to walls and can be applied in more than one color.

Color streaking gives a very subtle effect created by dragging any one of a variety of tools through wet glaze to produce regular streak. Marbling, which works well on a fireplace mantel, involves layering tinted glazes over a white or colored base coat.

To achieve faux finishing success, have all necessary materials at hand before beginning a project, Hatfield suggests.

"You don't want to have to run out to a store every time you need something," he says. Supplies should include drop cloths; plenty of 2-inch wide painter's masking tape; roller frames and rollers with a half-inch nap; a little latex glaze to extend the life of the paint and keep it from drying too fast; a plant mister or spray bottle to help with blending; tools needed to achieve the look you want; and blending brushes.

"They should be natural bristle brushes like varnish brushes," Hatfield suggests. "White bristles are best and you should get them as big as you can — 4 to 6 inches (wide)."

Once you've gathered your materials and prepared the walls by washing them and spackling any cracks, holes or nicks, you're ready to let loose your inner Michelangelo.

"If it doesn't look good, don't worry," Hatfield says. "It's just paint. It's cheap and if you don't like it you can always paint over it."

Andrea Estrada, a Santa Barbara, CA, writer, and her daughter recently painted and glazed their brick fireplace to create the appearance of washed sandstone.