Tips and Guides

4 Faux Finishes for Your Home

Add drama to your walls with these paint-based, captivating finishes

Photography: Paolo Feliciano (Main Photo)

Faux finishes are almost as good as the real thing. These are cheap alternatives and can create a similar impact in your space.

Create a statement by considering any of these finishes.

Paint Splattering

Achieve the 'spattering' effect by thumping a loaded paintbrush (or old toothbrush against a screen for small surfaces) against a stick to spatter it in different directions. To adjust and test the size of paint dots, do a trial run on a rag. Aim to cover the entire surface with paint dots for a more authentic effect. This is bound to be a messy affair so use a mask and lots of newspaper.

Photo from

Trompe L'oeil

This term literally means "fool the eye," as it appears three-dimensional from afar. A mixture of oil paint, turpentine, and glaze is commonly used, but ready-to-use paper designs can be bought for those who don't have the time or skill to paint the design from scratch. Popular themes include figures, landscapes, and architectural details such as columns and bricks.

Photo by: Paolo Feliciano.


Marbling involves dipping a thin brush in black glaze and sweeping a softening brush in light, random strokes to create the characteristic marble pattern. Serpentine marbling, on the other hand, is achieved by rubbing oil paint on a surface using a tissue paper.

RL Tip: Local muralist Alfred Galvez shares a process that's similar to serpentine marbling. For starters, one must "thin" the paint with water (10% paint, 90% water). Use cheese cloth dipped in mixture and wiped in circular motion on the wall.

Antiquing and Verdigris

This mimics the patina metals acquire over time. Verdigris can be duplicated when a horizontal piece of metal or plastic is exposed to heat and combined with acids. The trick is to apply the layers in uneven, arbitrary patches for a more natural look. Since it involves chemicals, it is highly suggested to let a professional help you.

Another version of antiquing—distressing, can work well in shabby-chic homes. Chipped, stripped paints, and crackle effects are just some of the characteristics of this finish.

Read the original article ("Fake and Fabulous") in the January 2009 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details. 

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