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Here's How: Apply Faux Painting Like a Pro

James Dulley on

Dear James: I would like the appearance of faux painting in my living room, but it looks complicated to apply. Do you have any tips for me to attempt it myself? -- Patty D.

Dear Patty: I would recommend trying it in a small room such as a bathroom first. If you watch an expert painter do it, it looks easy, but there is quite a learning curve, and a delicate touch is required to do it well. Professional painters charge from $1 to $3 per square foot of painted wall.

It is possible to do it yourself. Although it is a bit tricky to do properly, anyone can do a reasonably acceptable faux painting job with some practice and patience.

The key is to not be timid or hesitant. If you work too slowly 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 you have a large piece of old drywall around your house, practice on it. 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 -- sponges, rags, paper, feathers, newsprint, etc. To get an idea of what patterns are in style and common in your area, visit some interior designer showrooms. This is also a good source for the names of professionals in case 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 dropcloths, 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 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. DQB Industries makes this type of roller.

Stenciling is another type of faux painting that you should be able to master without too much practice. The are many stencil designs to choose from. Two sources for the stencils and instructions on using them are Dressler Stencil Company and Royal Design Studio.


Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, Ohio, 45244 or visit www.dulley.com. To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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