Decorative Paint Finishes

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Take your skills one step further with the techniques described below to create decorative finishes. These techniques are surprisingly simple to learn. Yet you can use them to create faux finishes that can turn an ordinary room into a unique place that expresses your own creativity. To locate a professional in Lake Stevens click here.

For a decorative finish to look good, start with a well prepared surface and a good base coat of solid color. Cover floors and any furniture in the room with drop cloths. Repair walls if necessary.

Glazing Techniques.

Decorative paint techniques all employ the same formula of a base color that shows through the broken color and translucence of one or more top coats of colored glaze. The differences lie in whether the glaze is added or subtracted on the surface and how it is moved about. Results are quite pleasing with simple rags moved skillfully, but can be even more striking by using special brushes and tools. One of the keys to decorative finishes is to have a consistent flow, even in broken color effects. Keep your hand moving. Don’t go back over an area until the project is dry, and then add color sparingly. Use a special glaze for the top coat or even thinned latex paint.


Use the sponging technique for walls, ceilings, flat surfaced furniture, and cabinets. Sponging creates an illusion of depth by having multiple layers of broken color over a base color. This is perhaps the easiest of all the techniques, as the goal is a random, uneven pattern. Simply load the sponge with glaze and dab. Don’t over sponge or you’ll get muddled and splotchy areas instead of the fields of dotted color you are after. It is best to use a natural sea sponge because of the irregular shape, but a synthetic sponge can be torn to remove all flat surfaces and edges. Sponging looks best with multiple layers of color over the base. For subtle depth, use varying shades of one color over the base.


Ragging is for walls, doors, and flat surfaced furniture. The success of this finish depends on the colors in your glaze, the contrast to the base coat, and primarily upon what type of material is used to add or subtract one or more coats of glaze. A rule of thumb is that the less porous the material used, the more striking the pattern created. The most common material (for an elegant and mellow effect) is soft, clean, lint-free cotton squares. Cut these squares from old clothing or bedding but watch for loose threads. Cheesecloth also makes a soft pattern. More striking surfaces are made with pliable, lint free materials, such as lace, canvas, or burlap.


Stippling works well for any surface even curved molding. This finish is similar to sponging, but is much more refined, as the glaze is simply moved and transformed with a finely bristled stippling brush. Stippling is more difficult than any rag technique because imperfections will show. Rag application is inherently varied but stippling makes a delicate, slightly elevated, consistent finish. The technique absolutely needs a smooth, well prepared surface. The base coat should be an oil based gloss, and the glaze must be oil to maintain workability.


This method showers the base coat with tiny droplets of paint or glaze. One way to deliver the paint is to load an oval sash brush and then tap the ferrule of the brush against a stick or another brush handle. The technique can create a deep, textured surface that is alive with color. Try to load the brush with the same amount of paint each time. This will help you achieve an even distribution of color.


This technique is similar to dragging except it creates a visually more interesting pattern. The dragging brush creates stripes that are gently blended together, whereas combing makes more distinct lines. By using different tools, some which you can make yourself, patterns are created where the glaze is lifted off. As with all of the techniques, move your hand steadily to a stopping point. If you muddle an area or stop midpoint, the surface must be re-glazed and started over. Colors can be vivid to highlight patter or similar to suggest patterns.

I hope these tips helped and be sure to use quality paint products at all times.

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