The Simple Way to Paint Fancy Finishes

Thu, Feb 25, 2010


There are usually two schools of thought when it comes to viewing paint: one is that it’s nothing more than a way to color a wall. The other is that it’s an artistic tool that stokes the human imagination and helps create visual illusions.

With that said, this is for everyone who wants to do more than just slap paint on the wall and watch it dry. This is for those individuals who want to take a wall and turn it into a canvas.

With a few simple tips and materials, any do-it-yourselfer can use paint to create the look of Italian marble on a wood floor; capture a Mediterranean sky in a ceiling; or give an impressionistic watercolor feel to a bathroom wall.

“When people think of rag-rolling, whisking or sponging, they think of paint techniques that are better left to professionals,” said Tom Rapps, brand manager for Dutch Boy Paints. “But, actually, these are relatively simple projects that are tremendously rewarding.”

Overall, they’re more interesting than an ordinary paint job, and compared with wallpaper, they save you time and money.

Get Real with Faux Finishes

These “fancy” or “faux” finishes, as they are called, create an illusion of texture on your walls or floors. They can also create the impression of depth and angularity. And, of course, the finished project is always a beautiful work of art.

Some of the more common techniques today are stenciling, combing and rag-rolling. Tortoiseshelling and marbling tend to be for the more adventurous, but are relatively simple to do nonetheless. And with nothing more than a few special materials (i.e. masking tape, rags, sponges) these dramatic and creative flourishes are easy to achieve.

“The reason these projects are easier than first perceived is because, in most cases, all you’re doing is applying a topcoat with something other than a traditional brush – whether it be a rag, squeegee or whisk broom,” said Rapps.

ere is a quick rundown of some of the more common techniques and what’s needed to create them:


This technique gives a textured finish by raking a toothed instrument through a wet topcoat of latex paint. First, make a comb from a squeegee (with handle removed) by cutting notches from the blade every inch.

Apply a basecoat to the wall. When dry, roll on a contrasting color of paint. Use long, smooth, continuous strokes to comb the surface (from the ceiling down) while the contrasting color is still wet. Wipe the paint off the comb after each stroke. And while combing, let your imagination be your guide – you can pull straight, diagonal or create waves.


Here you’re rolling twisted rags through diluted paint to produce a surface that resembles moir or watered silk. Mix one part latex paint with one part water to create topcoat mixture. Remember, the basecoat you select will show through exposed areas of the topcoat.

Apply latex mixture by twisting a piece of fabric into a tight, 6-inch wide sausage-like roll; its weave will determine the texture of the finish. Hold the rag twist at each end. Work from the bottom up. Don’t let the paint dry before applying the rag.


Rag-rolling with chamois cloth.

A variation of this technique is to insert a ” nap roller cover onto the frame of a roller. Then, staple 4″ x 4″ pieces of chamois cloth onto the roller using a heavy-duty staple gun. Use nine pieces (turned in different directions to provide the best pattern), arranging them in rows of three. Roll randomly over the entire surface of the wall.

Color Washing

This elegant finish adds warmth to rooms and is extremely forgiving to uneven walls. Brush a topcoat color over the background (it’s best to use a combination of pale colors). Let the brush strokes show and don’t attempt to cover the basecoat completely. To soften, let paint dry several seconds, then lightly dab surface with a dampened rag. Rinse the rag frequently to keep wash consistent.

To create a nearly matte wash, mix one part interior latex paint with two parts water.

Distressed Stipple

This technique creates the luxurious look of leather as the translucent stippling effect adds dimension to your walls. The added technique of distressing implies slight folds, wrinkles or mars in the surface.

First, apply a darker-tone basecoat and allow to dry. Roll on a glaze, and start tamping with the stipple brush. Move on to surrounding areas with little or no overlapping. Just before the glaze starts to set, snap it with a soft rag to get sharp crease marks. You may also dab the glaze with the rags to get softer, subtle folds.

Creating Magic with Paint

Painting a room in one solid color is always a rewarding do-it-yourself project. But letting your imagination take over can lead to a magical transformation in your surroundings.

“In essence, paint is used as visual trickery to achieve these faux finishes,” said Dutch Boy’s Rapps. “People tend to think color first when it comes to paint, but its ability to change moods, create space and add personality to a room is just as important.”

For more information on creating fantastic finishes, call the Dutch Boy Paints consumer help line at (800) 828-5669.

Courtesy of Article Resource Association, www.aracopy.com

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