Faux Finishing 101

Faux Finishing 101

Faux Finishing 101

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Faux painting is the Art of creating painted surfaces to look like expensive materials.  Some of these materials are marble, hardwood or venetian plaster.  There are different faux techniques that can be utilized to make furniture and other surfaces look textured, antiqued or multi-dimensional.  There are many options under the “umbrella” of faux finishes. We’ve described some of our favorite finishes below. Check them out.

Faux Finishes

Faux means fake or imitation according to the dictionary.  All of the different types of “faux” we discussed in the first paragraph are technically examples of faux finishes.

Metallic Finishes

The use of gold, silver or bronze paints to give elements the appearance of antique or aged (weathered) metals.  To create the appearance of rusted patinas, a base is first applied to the entire surface. We then apply a metal and patina glaze with a roller or paint brush, depending on the surface.  Use a sweeping motion which will allow the base color to come through in some areas.

Wood Grain or Faux Bois

Creating a wood grain of any type or color of wood that you desire with the use of painting techniques.


A French word for “streak” or “stripe”.  Adding thin striations of color to make an appearance of denim, linen or other fabrics.

Subtractive Technique

The use of a sponge, wet rag, plastic bag or dry roller to “take off” some of the paint to create a textured look.


Handful of rags squeezed together to apply a unique texture.

Color Wash

Blending together multiple hues of tinted glaze to create variations of color within the design.  Color washing gives the appearance of a weathered exterior wall or even barn wood.  After your base coat is dry, a secondary color is mixed with glaze in a four-to-one ratio (four parts glaze to one part paint). How you apply your glaze determines how it will end up looking. Sponges give a more textured appearance, brushes produce noticeable lines, and cloths create a more downplayed texture.

Trompe L’oeil

“Trick of the eye”.  The addition of architectural design details which appear realistic.


Creating surfaces that appear to be marble.  For instance, I have painted plaster columns and ceramic tiles to compliment the already existing marble in the home.  Once I match the color to the existing marble, I can begin the process of marbling.

I have used many different tools and techniques over my career to create compelling and unique finishes for my clientele.  Art is all about thinking outside the box!

A more experienced Artist will thrill you with the possibilities.

The History of Faux Finish

It is hard to fathom that faux techniques have been used for thousands of years!  There is evidence of faux finishing going back over 5,000 years.  Faux painting has continued feverishly as an art throughout the centuries.  It was first felt in the United States in the 1920s as part of the Art Deco style movement. At that particular time, it was generally used in commercial and public areas.  In the 1980’s, we saw a significant shift in faux finishing to encompass residential homes.  This shift broadened the possibilities of home decor to an extraordinary bounty of beauty and excitement for Interior Designers and homeowner’s of the like.  Instead of textured wallpaper that is such a permanent choice for walls; the use of faux painting techniques were unleashed to create the same illusion of texture and depth.

The Professional Artisan

It is not an easy task to create your own faux finish, and it will be noticeable should you ever compare it to a skilled Artisan.  Most professional companies will provide a portfolio of their work and will be able to evaluate your home to know what will be good techniques to flow with your home decor.


The two most commonly used methods for applying a faux finish are glaze and plaster.  According to the definition by Wikipedia, “A glaze is a thin transparent or semi-transparent layer on a painting which modifies the appearance of the underlying paint layer. Glazes can change the chroma, value, hue and texture of a surface. Glazes consist of a great amount of binding medium in relation to a very small amount of pigment. Drying time will depend on the amount and type of paint medium used in the glaze.”  For the full article see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glaze_(painting_technique)   With that said, faux painting creates the appearance of texture, but it will be smooth to the touch. Consequently, this is a good choice if you ever decide to make a decorating change in the future; you can just paint over it!

Wallpaper vs Painting

While commercial wall coverings and residential wallpaper do offer versatility, faux painting is considered more versatile.  Faux finishes can be applied to any surface as long as it’s plain and sealed.   The preparation and priming of the surface will vary depending on the type of surface that is being painted.  Again, as an experienced professional, we know the science behind the products we use as well as the technique for each product.

Additionally, faux painting will last longer than wallpaper.  Paint does not have seams, so it will never peel off as wallpaper will.  The maintenance is simple, and a professional painter can easily do touch ups. Using faux painting, you can achieve the appearance of dimensions, as well as giving homeowners the chance to cover up any imperfections in their home.

There are so many facets to faux finishing that it creates excitement in the world of home decor.  If you want the look of a stone or brick wall; we can achieve it.  It you want to have marble baseboards; we can create it!  Unleash the imagination!  The professionals at Vitti Art Decor & Painting have over 20 years of experience and can achieve ANY look you want for your home or office.  Let’s Create Something Great!

Follow this link here to see some picture of different faux styles.