Spread the “faux” word

DIYers are displaying a new-found adventurism in their painting projects — different and unusual “faux” effects are now in high demand, and retailers should know how to cater to bolder market needs…

White Knight Suede aerosol finishes are ideal for decorating objects

False effects in painting — or “faux” effects, as the French call them — have played an important role in internal and external decoration for centuries. Sophisticated trompe l’oeil (deception of the eye) effects were popular in European dwellings as long ago as the 16th century, and complex varnishing and lacquering techniques have been used by subsequent generations for adorning furniture and other interior surfaces.

The capacity for paint to reproduce a wide variety of faux finishes, from burnished copper and rust colours to textured leather and shimmering pearl semblances, has been understood since Leonardo da Vinci was a boy.

Such finishes, however, were often considered to be “out of reach” of common painters, belonging instead to the realm of specialised masters whose techniques and methods were jealously guarded.

Today, all that has changed — modern paint manufacturers are continually releasing ready-made coatings that produce striking effects, most of which can be applied by DIYers without specialised training. While many of these products still require a basic level of technical competence to achieve optimum results, the overall palette of textures and finishes available to consumers has broadened dramatically in recent years. And the public’s hunger for individual and personalised paint effects is enjoying renewed vigour thanks to a plethora of DIY home improvement television shows.

Table 1

Major Faux Finish Categories
Washes
Washes include the majority of popular faux effects and can be tackled successfully by most DIYers. After applying a base coat and allowing it to dry, washes are applied using brushes, rags or other materials. The base coat is visible to varying degrees through the top coat depending on the thickness of the wash, adding great texture and depth to the finished look.
Metallic
These finishes are usually applied over a same-colour base coat, and are characterised by a fine sparkle or glitter finish. Patterns and customised designs can be incorporated into the finished appearance by means of a roller, brush, spray applicator or sponge. Exterior metallic finishes are also proving popular at the moment.
Stucco/Texture
Stucco-style coatings are usually applied in several coats using a stainless steel trowel. Coats may be sanded using extra fine sandpaper. This finish can be tinted in many colours, most frequently to represent earthy and rich colours. Interesting complexities can be achieved using coats of slightly differing shades.
Glazes/Pearls
After applying a solid base coat, apply pearl or glaze finishes using a brush, spatula, sponge, chamois or similar material. This pearl finish offers a soft, opalescent hue to solid colours and lends itself well to patterning, while the glaze effect is hard-wearing and rich.

The categories in Table 1 comprise numerous types of faux finishes, ranging from suede and rust effects to marbling and liming.

In addition, there are more specialised effects such as woodgraining, gilding with gold leaf and distressing that can enhance a variety of wall and furniture surfaces and recreate aged or antique appearances.

Written by John Power.

To read the rest of this article, see it in the May 2004 issue of the Australian Hardware Journal.