What are Some Different Types of Decorative Faux Finishes?

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  • Written By: Susan Grindstaff
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2019
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Decorative faux finishes are typically done using paint, plaster, or varnish. The most common types involve mixing paint with components that add texture, such as sand or stucco. When paint is mixed with these compounds, it can be manipulated using brushes or sponges to create various decorative faux finishes. There are many other types of decorative faux finishes, including textured concrete and crackling methods.

One of the more popular types of decorative faux finishes involves using glazed plaster to achieve the look of stone. The plaster is applied using an irregular stroke, then once dry, is covered with tinted glaze in colors that mimic stone. Some homeowners use this look throughout their entire house, but more often, it is used as an accent wall. This type finish is also a good way to deal with problem walls, or walls that need cosmetic repair. The work involved is typically no more difficult than the often tedious job of drywall repair.

Another way to achieve the look of stone is applying a very thin layer of concrete. This method is not typically used on walls, but is quite popular as a way to finish countertops and floors. The concrete is sometimes mixed with flakes of mica or plastic in varying colors. Once dry, the concrete is then polished and sealed with polyurethane or epoxy varnish. To complement decorative faux finishes done with concrete, uniform designs can be stamped into the mixture before it dries.


A technique called “sponging,” which generally works well on drywall, is considered one of the simpler methods of faux finishing. By using a sponge and overlapping different shades of paint, several looks can be achieved. Typically, a base coat is first applied to the wall and allowed to dry. Using a different, complementary color, the sponge is simply dipped in the paint and rolled over the wall in a splotched pattern until the entire wall is covered. This process is repeated, using as many colors as desired, then generally finished with a glaze.

Another faux finish that is considered easy to do is called “distressing.” This is often done on cabinets and furniture to create an antique look. It is typically accomplished by applying a undercoat of latex or enamel paint, and well before it dries, painting over it again using an acrylic based paint in another, complementary color. Since the paints have different drying times, the second layer will begin to crack as it dries, which creates the look of old cracked paint.


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