Faux Wood & Decorative Painting Techniques

by B. Maté
Faux finishes usually start with a base coat.

Faux finishes usually start with a base coat.

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Faux decorating techniques are a less-expensive way to add style and dimension to a flat surface. A technique that dates back to Ancient Egypt and Greece, the designs can emulate the appearance of wood, linen, stone or fresco. Painters often use a variety of tools to help create the illusion of texture. Also, using slow-drying alkyd paint and glaze can help provide more time to alter and perfect the faux finish before it dries.


Creating a faux wood finish on interior walls is popular, as the results can be chic or rustic. Painters can choose from a range of base colors, from lighter tans to deep browns. Once the base color has been applied to the wall in two coats, it is allowed to dry completely -- approximately 24 hours -- before a latex glaze or more translucent paint is rolled on with a 9-inch sponge roller. The texture is achieved by rolling various premade rubber stencils into the wet glaze or scratching the surface of the glaze with a hand-held rake. Then, brush the surface with a stiff wallpaper brush to finish the look.


An elegant accent to decor, the linen decorative finish can create the illusion of fabric on the walls. The base color for this technique is often lighter than the metallic glaze overlay. Common colors include a mocha-colored base paint with a darker bronze glaze. After two coats of the base paint have completely dried, the glaze is applied to the wall with a roller and then gone over with a wallpaper brush, first horizontally and then vertically, to produce the weave pattern associated with linen.


A stone finish can be used in lieu of stone panels to give walls a regal appearance. Choose a base color that works with the stone that is being recreated. The base color is usually the darkest color; after two coats, it is allowed to completely dry for one day. For the texture, sponge a lighter acrylic paint over the wall, using one or two different-size sponges. Blend it with a 7-inch stiff-bristled brush, swiping across the wall horizontally. After the glaze has dried, in approximately three hours, apply another thin coat of glaze -- using a color about three shades lighter than the base color -- with a roller to finish the look.


Recreate the look of the Mediterranean with a faux fresco wall treatment. Fresco starts with a light base color, usually in the taupe family. After applying the first base coat with a regular roller, load a nap roller -- which has longer fibers -- and roll V-shaped strokes across the wall. Allow to dry up to 48 hours, and then sponge a burnt sienna-colored glaze on top. Use three to four sponges, varying in shape and texture. These sponges help to apply and blend the faux texture. To finish the decorative technique, blot any excess glaze with a clean sponge and allow it to dry for about 24 hours.


  • "Decorative Painting Techniques: Whisper Painting"; Suzy Eaton; 2007
  • "Decorative Painting & Faux Finishes"; Sharon Ross, Elise Kinkead; 2004
  • "Ortho's all About Decorative Painting"; Ortho Books; 2002
  • "Old-House Journal"; Types of Decorative Painting; May 1986

About the Author

B. Maté has been reporting on creative industries since 2007—covering everything from Fashion Week to the latest artist to wow the Parisian art scene. Her experience stems from a marketing background, with more than 12 years of experience consulting fashion-forward entrepreneurs.

Photo Credits

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