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Decorative Painting & Faux Painting

By: Dorrie Ruplinger

When I first starting using faux and decorative painting techniques on the walls in our home it was a financially motivated action. We didn't have a lot of extra money. I couldn't afford new furniture or flooring for a room but I could afford to buy some paint. But just painting the walls a solid color seemed boring to me so I started exploring faux and decorative painting. It didn't take me long to get hooked. Why do I like faux and decorative painting on walls so much?

1) It's an inexpensive way to change the look of an entire room. Paint is the most economical way to change the look of a room.

2) A painting technique on the walls minimizes and hides cosmetic flaws such as surface cracks and less than perfect patching jobs.

3) It's easy to change when you're sick of it. Repainting a room that has paint on the walls is a whole lot easier and much less time consuming than stripping wallpaper off walls and preparing those walls for paint.

4) It adds your own personal look and style to a space. Color and texture are fun and interesting. An entire home painted the same off-white color is dull and boring to me. A faux painting technique can evoke any mood you want in a room whether it's a Tuscan look, retro 70's look, a country look, something elegant, a cheery bright look for a child's room, or any other look you want.

5) The choices of techniques and paints are nearly endless. Some of the more popular technique choices include: sponging, ragging, dragging, color washing, stenciling, crackling, marbling, gilding, wood-graining, spattering, feather-dusting, and stippling. You could also use one of the specialty paint products on the market today such as Venetian plaster to create the look you want or buy a faux painting kit such as a Woolie painting kit to help make your project as fun and easy as possible.

While I highly recommend faux or decorative painting, there are a few things I've learned since I've started faux painting that I'd like to share with you. Some of these items are things to "not do" that I've learned the hard way. Others are tips and suggestions that were helpful to me.

1) Go to your local paint store or decorative painting store and look at the samples they have. For example, Home Depot has lots of different booklets and paint chips with faux paint finishes on them for you to look at and even take home to look at in your lighting. That pretty metallic finish on a paint chip in the store make look garish when you get it home and look at it in your home's natural lighting.

2) Consider taking a class before doing your first project. Some paint stores and home improvement stores, such as Home Depot, offer free faux painting clinics and workshops. You can also find some very good faux painting classes for a reasonable fee by looking in your local paper or doing an Internet search.

3 Practice your technique on a piece of scrap wallboard before doing it on your wall. This is especially important if you are blending colors. A few years ago my son wanted his bedroom painted. He wanted me to use a Woolie (a great faux painting tool available at most paint supply stores) to blend together a burgundy and a caramel color. Each color looked great by itself, but when they got blended together too much a dark fuchsia color emerged. And anything resembling pink was not something my son wanted on his wall!

Because I had been faux painting for years I didn't listen to my own advice about trying the technique on a piece of scrap board first nor did I buy sample sizes of paint to try out. I bought gallons because I wanted to save time. Luckily the store agreed to exchange the paint for me free of charge but we did have to paint over a wall and wait for it to dry before starting over with new colors.

4) Remember that the texture of your walls will dictate, to some extent, what faux painting techniques you can and cannot use. If your walls are smooth you can do just about any technique you want. But textured walls are very common, especially in newer homes. You may see striped walls in a brochure or on a sample wall and decide that's what you want to do in your home; but if your walls are textured it's going to be nearly impossible to achieve straight lines for your stripes. Keep in mind that faux finishes on paint chips from a store are done on a smooth surface. They will look a little different (but may still look very nice) if you do that same technique with the same colors on a textured wall.

5) If you're going to do a faux technique in an entire room don't start on the wall that people will first look at when they walk into the room. That means don't start on the wall directly across from the doorway. Unless you're a professional, it takes a little while for you to get your technique perfected in a room. Put that less than perfect start in the least noticeable part of the room.

6) If you get tired while painting and need a break, don't stop in the middle of a wall. Stop at a corner. If you stop in the middle of the wall and don't come back to work on the project again until after the paint is dry, you're going to have a noticeable line on the wall. It won't be pretty.

7) Think twice about mixing your own color with paint you have at home unless you are absolutely positive you're going to have enough paint to do the entire job. If you mix your own color and run out of paint before you finish it will be time-consuming and challenging to match that color. You might be able to match it because many paint stores have specialty machines that can match a paint chip you take in, but if you've mixed together two different sheens of paint (for example let's say you mixed a flat paint and a satin paint together) you're going to have a hard time reproducing that same sheen. In some cases it may not be noticeable; but in other cases it will.

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About The Author, Dorrie Ruplinger

Dorrie Ruplinger is a featured writer for faux painting.
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