Faux Finishing

"Everybody's doing it, doing it, doing it," so the old song goes - not falling in love, necessarily, but faux-finishing.

Faux-finishing is the catch-all term for decorative painting techniques. Sponging, rag-rolling and verdigris are some of the more popular faux finishes, but elaborate techniques such as wood-graining and marbleizing also are catching on.

Why are these techniques so popular? Because they're relatively easy and inexpensive and offer a truly customized look. They're also easy to correct: Simply repaint and start over. All you need are the right tools, some instruction and a little practice.

Decorating retailers can help with the first two of these requirements. Most decorating centers offer all the necessary products to get the job done right. Many also hold faux-finish clinics. Simply call and find out what your local retailer has to offer.

The Right Tools

It's a good idea to make a checklist of the products you'll need. Each faux-finish project has different requirements. But the following checklist can serve as a guide:

Preparatory Tools and Supplies

  • Patching compound
  • Putty knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Primer
  • Masking tape
  • Drop cloths

Application Tools and Supplies

  • Glaze
  • Coatings (paint--base coat and top coats, varnish, stain, etc.)
  • Pigments
  • Paint tray
  • Brushes and rollers
  • Project-specific sundries (sponges, feathers, rags, wood-graining tools, etc.)
  • Water bucket


  • Soap and water (for acrylic paints and glazing liquids)
  • Mineral spirits (for alkyd paints and glazing liquids)

Additional Items

  • Painter's cap and apron
  • Rubber gloves
  • Small sponge brushes (good for stenciling)
  • How-to materials

Simpler Yet...

Pre-packaged how-to kits make faux finishing simpler yet. Their proliferation in the marketplace suggests how popular specialty painting has become. There are marbleizing kits, kits for creating granite or quarry reproductions, wood-graining kits and stenciling kits of all kinds.

Courtesy of the Paint and Decorating Retailers Association