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Faux Finishes

Whether you want a faux finish to help cover up problem walls or to add design details to a plain room, you will use the art as a SOLUTION or an ENHANCEMENT.

Before you start, experiment with a sea sponge, plastic grocery bags, an old, wide paint brush, and rags or cheesecloth. Many professional faux finishers never use a sponge and prefer using brushes. I prefer grocery plastic bags and cheesecloth to take off the extra glaze. Since most home do-it-yourself projects use sponges, this article talks about sponges, but you can apply the principles with any application method.

Faux finish in flip house
Faux artist and designer Kari Barron used a wet sponge and powder to achieve this old world color.


Once you've applied your base coat to your wall in preparation for your next faux finishing sponging project, here are a few suggestions for creating a truly spectacular effect--with the least amount of headache and frustration.

First, as you begin working your way across your wall, be careful to allow some of the base coat to show through. Remember, you're not applying a second coat of paint to the wall. You're adding a second layer to the surface, designed to add drama and texture to the room, so make sure to let some of the first coat remain visible if you want to achieve the most dramatic results.

Keep your pattern random as you work. Spin the sponge in your fingers from time to time--spinning often is better. Everything you do is designed to create a random effect, and putting down lots of sponge prints using the same area of the sponge is a sure way to lessen your desired random effect.

Don't forget to step back every now so you can admire your work and make sure that you haven't been getting into a groove that has been destroying the randomness you've been striving to achieve. In fact, as soon as you feel yourself getting into a groove, that's generally a good time to take a few moments to step back and see how the wall looks from somewhere else in the room.

Faux copper finishe in Flip House

Artist and interior designer Christina Johnson used glazes and brushes to make a waterfall over copper in the Faux Flip. Christina specializes in custom faux finishes in Southern California.

If you're going to add a third layer, you'll have to be even more careful not to cover the first layer entirely. That will mean slowing down some, but the results will be well worth your effort. Adding a third color is designed to create an even deeper sense of texture, which means it's that much more important to be able to see three different colors as your eye scans the wall. All the suggestions for the second coat also apply for the third, as well.

You can achieve professional results on your sponge faux finish project if you take your time, step back from time to time, keep a steady pace, vary the position of the sponge in your hand, and work diligently to make certain that each layer can still be seen to some degree. The more coats you decide to add, the more critical it becomes to be aware that the bottom coat needs to be visible, regardless of how many coats you decide to overlay it with.

One of the coolest parts of doing a faux finish on a wall is that if you're so disappointed with the results that you just can't stand it, all you have to do is paint over the whole thing and start over! Thinking along those lines can go a long way toward taking the pressure off, which is always a good thing. The important thing is to have fun with it, knowing you're in the process of creating something unique and special--something you did yourself and have a right to be proud of.  

Evan Dahlke applying faux plaster finish


Evan Dahlke applied a faux Italian plaster finish to the walls in the living room. Evan specializes in fine faux finishes and finish carpentry.


Faux bamboo finish in Bamboo Woman Tea Room at the Faux Flip
Kim Schaffer carved designs into wet joint compound , painted the walls, and glazed with a brush. Kim specialized in decorative murals.

Mark Mason applying wood faux finish Mark Mason built the custom buffet and used wood faux finish to make the plain wood look like fine hardwood.

Mark is the Faux Contractor, which means he can build it and faux it!


There are many ways to use faux finishes on furnishings as well as on walls.

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