Faux Finishes: The Illusion of Depth and Texture

Faux Finishing Boston MassachusettsIf you are looking to do more with your walls than just add a fresh coat of paint, a creative and decorative faux finish might be just what you need. Faux finishing, which is also known as faux painting, is a special painting technique that is used to replicate the appearance of other types of materials or finishes.

The History of Faux Finish
Believe it or not, these techniques have been used for thousands of years. It dates back over 5,000 years, all the way back to tomb painting in ancient Egypt and more decorative stucco and plaster applications in ancient Mesopotamia.

Faux painting has continued as an art throughout the centuries, and was first embraced in the United States in the 1920s as part of the Art Deco style movement, where it was still primarily used in commercial or public locations. The first time faux finish became popular for use in home decor was in the 1980s, when decorators moved away from textured wallpaper and began using faux painting techniques to create the illusion of depth and texture.

Hiring a Professional
Many home improvement stores and decorator magazines will tell you that it’s easy to create your own faux finish, but the truth is that faux finishing is more of an art than a basic skill. Your best bet is to consult with a professional painting company in your area that specializes in faux painting and design.

You may be surprised to discover all of the options available for your home, and you will definitely see the difference between an amateur’s attempt at creating a faux finish and the work of a true professional. Make sure to ask to see a portfolio of the contractor’s work and ask for advice on what methods would work best with your home decor.

Glaze vs. Plaster
The two most commonly used methods for applying a faux finish are glaze and plaster. Glazing is a technique that utilizes a mixture of translucent paint and glaze to create the appearance of texture. Faux painting that uses this method will always feel smooth to the touch and is the easiest to paint over if you decide to make a decorating change in the future.

Plaster work typically involves the use of tinted plasters or a basic plaster that has color applied over top of it. This type of finish can either be flat and smooth to the touch or it can be textured to give an even more pronounced look and feel.

Choosing a Style
There are many different effects that can be created through the use of faux finishing. Here is a list of the most commonly used finishes. Make sure to ask the consultant from your local painting company for a list of available styles.

  • Marble – This technique is used to make your walls appear as if they were made of solid marble. Both glazing and plastering techniques can be used to create this effect.
  • Wood Grain – The proper name for this technique is “faux bois”, which in French means fake wood.
  • Venetian Plaster – This extremely popular style of faux finish appears to be textured, but is actually smooth and shiny.
  • Ragging – Bunched up or twisted rags are applied with a glazing technique to create unique textures.
  • Color Wash – This style is more of a free-form paint brush technique that blends together multiple hues of tinted glazes to subtly create variations of color within the design.
  • StriĆ© – The French word for “streak” or “stripe”, this technique uses a paint brush to add very thin stripes of color. It can create the look of denim, linen or other types of fabrics.
  • Trompe L’oeil – In French this means a “trick of the eye.” This technique is most commonly seen in mural paintings, however it is also used to add architectural design details that look realistic.

Commercial and residential clients located in the Eastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire areas that are interested in finding out more about custom faux finishes, should contact a professional painting company that specializes in this type of work. With over 30 years of experience, Donovan Painting has a dedicated team of estimators, foremen and painters working closely with each client to create a custom design that will exceed expectations. Call today for a free estimate at 617-864-2184.