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Faux Finisher

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Ever thought you'd like to spruce up that old bureau? Want to liven up your beat-up desk? Then why not give faux finishing a try?

Faux finishers use decorative paint techniques to transform ordinary surfaces. Using common materials like feathers or rags, the plainest wood surface can resemble the finest Italian marble.

Whether it's ragging, smooshing, sponging or stippling, faux finishes are some of the hottest design trends around -- and they're easy on the budget, too!

With the increased interest in Martha Stewart-type do-it-yourself home decor, and the trend towards "unique" home furnishings and personalized decorating, many people are using decorative painting techniques to personalize their home and furniture.

Old, worn out chairs can become gilded antiques. Plain wooden chests can sport Italian Renaissance scenes. Whole walls can be painted with murals. And you can do all this for the price of a few cans of paint and some basic equipment.

Equipment for creating a faux finish can be found at almost any home improvement, paint or craft store. For basic techniques like sponging, ragging, washes and striping, you will need the following:

  • Sea sponge
  • Rags
  • Sharp-toothed comb or combing tool (available at any paint store) for striping or combing walls
  • Good quality brushes and rollers
  • Paint tray
  • Painter's tape (to tape off anything you DON'T want painted)
  • Paints and solvents (talk to your local paint store to find out what's right for you)

Paints and solvents can cost anywhere from $10 to $40 per gallon depending on quality and paint type (gloss, semi-gloss, flat). Solvents come in smaller sizes and are slightly more expensive.

Anyone can faux! Painting with a partner is recommended, as it makes it easier to cover a larger area faster. If you have allergies to paints and solvents, however, this activity is not for you. Small children should also be kept well away from painting materials, as they are highly poisonous.

Always make sure that your work area is well ventilated, and stop immediately if you feel faint or dizzy from paint fumes. If you can work in a garage or open area with lots of windows, do so.

Getting Started

An interest in faux techniques is all that's needed to get started in this activity. If you want to take it further, many craft shops and paint or home improvement stores offer classes in faux finishes and decorating with paint.

The Internet, interior decorating magazines, television shows on home improvement and your local library are also excellent sources of information. There are also design colleges that offer relevant courses.

Plan your projects ahead of time and make sure you have everything you need before you start to paint. Nothing is quite as frustrating as getting to a critical point in a project and running out of paint or solvent.

Allow yourself enough time to complete each stage, and plan for at least four to eight hours between coats or treatments. Breaking your project into several steps over a number of days is a good idea.sub-section

Start out with simple techniques and projects, perhaps ragging an out-of-the-way wall or refinishing an old chair or dresser -- something that you can always paint over later. As you get more confident, you can tackle larger projects and more difficult techniques.

Don't get frustrated if something doesn't work out. Even the professionals make mistakes.

Finally, experiment! Faux finishing is like any art form -- the more you practice, the better you will get and the more your personal style will develop.


The Art of Faux: The Complete Sourcebook of Decorative Painted Finishes,
by  Pierre Finkelstein
Classic Paints and Faux Finishes,
by  Annie Sloan and Kate Gwynn
Decorating With Paper and Paint: Combining Decoupage and Faux Finish Techniques,
by  Rhonda Rainey


Faux Like a Pro
Find a pro, get tips, and buy stuff online

Chateau de Faux
Specializes in painted finishes for furniture, walls and accessories

Fauxing Examples
Many examples of fauxing techniques

Anyone Can Learn to Faux
Learn finishing techniques and more

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OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.