Faux Painting

Dear James: I was at a recent home show and saw how some faux painting really jazzed up a room. My budget is limited, so I plan to try to paint my dining room myself. Please give me some hints on doing it properly? — Marsha W.

Dear Marsha: The best hint of all is not to try it in your dining room first. It may have looked easy when you saw an expert do it, but it really is quite an art. Professionals often charge from $1 to $3 per square foot painted. This alone indicates the level of skill required.

Do not despair. Although it is a bit tricky to do properly, anyone can do a reasonably acceptable faux painting job with a little practice. If you have a large piece of old drywall around your house, practice on it.

The key is not to be timid and hesitant. If you work too slow and constantly question your work, the paint will begin to dry. When this happens, you lose the magical effect of the faux paint blending.

If not, clear out a closet and hone your faux painting skills on its walls. Closets are actually best to practice in because you have many corners to work with. Maintaining a consistent pattern all the way up to a corner takes the most practice. You can always repaint the closet flat white later.

You can use almost any material as the applicator of the layers of paint — sponge, rags, paper, feathers, newsprint, etc. To get an idea of what patterns are in style and commonly being used in your area, visit some interior designers’ showrooms. This is also a good source for the names of professionals if you just cannot get the hang of it.

When you talk with professionals and read about faux painting, you will often hear the term “wet edge.” This basically means that the paint you are working over is not totally dried. This slight mixing and swirling of the various shades of wet paint is what produces the beautiful patterns.

Start out with plenty of drop cloths, rags and masking tape for any edges and trim. Better paint stores should have high-quality masking tape with a mild adhesive that is often blue in color. It will not leave a residue when you remove it, but it sticks well enough to hold up some thin plastic protective film.

While you are at your paint store, check for special faux painting supplies. Many paint stores now have a special section just for faux painting with many of the materials and supplies that you will need.

For your first job, if you do not have a lot time to hone your faux painting skills, consider using one of the paint rollers specifically designed for this. Sears Craftsman has a simple kit with several faux rollers.

Areas of the roller surface are recessed in various patterns. First roll one background color on the wall with the paint roller. Dip the same roller in a different color and roll over the same wet paint to produce the blending and patterns. If you roll in consistent directions, the patterns look great.

Another type of roller, made of rags, creates a very interesting faux pattern. Instead of nap on the roller, it is covered with twisted rags. The rags can be rearranged to vary the pattern.

Stenciling is another type of faux painting that you should be able to master without too much practice. There are many stencil designs to choose from. A source for the stencils and instructions on using them is Royal Design Studio, (800) 747-9767.

Send your questions to Here’s How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com.