All information courtesy of the Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute.

Choose a technique:

Chalkboard Paints
Color Blocking
Burgundy Faux Finishing

Faux Fireplace 
Harlequin Design

Painting Clouds
Ragging and Rag-Rolling

Sheen Striping

Stone Faux Finishes

Sponging, rag-rolling, stippling and paneling are a few of the decorative paint techniques that can give your home unique charm and character. Beautiful dapple color effects can be achieved with minimal materials and the most basic instruction. Start off with a simple, basic project and before you know it you'll have the confidence to create your own design ideas and bring these techniques into every room in the house.

Broken Color Techniques with Glazes and Washes
Most specialty painting techniques involve "broken color," a term that means applying one or more colors in broken layers over a different base coat to create a mottled or textured effect. Most of the time these techniques employ glazes or washes applied over a solid colored background color. Glazes are made of oil-based paints mixed with linseed oil and are more transparent than washes. They give a sleek glow to walls. They work best when the technique requires the paint to remain open and workable for longer periods of time. Washes are simply latex paint that has been thinned with water to produce color that appears fresher, purer and more delicate than that of a glaze. Washes, unlike glazes, will also show brush marks which adds a greater sense of depth and texture. They are also easier to make, modify and clean up which makes them the best choice for beginners. Decorative painting projects involve more than just putting paint on the wall. To ensure that your time and creativity have been worth the effort, make sure you do thorough surface preparation. This includes: washing away any dust, dirt and mildew; filling cracks and holes; and priming where necessary.

Burgundy Faux Finish

Step 1: Prepare the surface.Color blocking
As with any paint project, be sure to clean and prepare the surface properly before beginning your project.

Step 2: Choose the specific colors for your project.
The faux technique shown will utilize a deep tone latex burgundy paint as the base coat. You can use this technique with a wide range of basecoats and glazes that would suit your particular home Decorative techniques work best with eggshell or low sheen paints rather than dead flats.

The glaze coat for the Burgundy faux should be a mix of a deep brown latex paint plus Latex Glaze mixture. Mix ratio is 4 to 1 (4 parts glaze to 1 part latex paint) to impart translucency and workability to the glaze. Be sure to use Latex Glaze with Latex Paint.

Step 3: Test the technique.
Purchase a few foam boards to test the technique and color combinations before applying to the wall. Once boards have been painted and dried, put in different locations in the room to see the color in different lights – both daylight and artificial light.

Step 4: Apply the decorative finish.
Apply basecoat, first ‘cutting’ out around ceiling, corners, baseboards and doors. Roller apply basecoat using medium nap roller to minimize roller tracks. Deep tone paints often require multiple coats to cover the surface. Using top quality paints will give you the best coverage. Allow basecoat to dry thoroughly.

Prepare the 4:1 latex glaze/deep tone brown paint mixture and pour into a roller tray lined with plastic liner. Fill reservoir of roller tray with glaze, you will be using ‘flat’ portion to ‘offload’ your decorative tool.

‘Prepare’ a sea sponge(s) by soaking in water to soften, then squeeze out all excess water. Dip sponge into glaze mixture, ‘offload’ by dabbing sponge on flat part of roller tray, then apply to wall in random pattern. Glaze can either be dabbed onto wall, angling wrist – or glaze can be ‘wiped’ onto wall with sponge and then ‘blotted’ with a clean sponge to achieve desired look.

The important thing to remember when applying glaze is to work in small areas so a ‘wet edge’ can be maintained, i.e. keeping the glaze wet until the desired look is achieved. Many people use a partner to help them with faux projects – both to make it more fun and to work quickly to maintain the wet edge. Always start at the corners and work across a wall. One tricky part of creating a realistic faux look is to make the corners and edges (ceiling and baseboards) look like the rest of the wall. One tip is to first mask the edges, then find a sponge that has a flat edge. Cut small pieces of that sponge to make it easier getting into the small, straight spaces.

Have fun – and remember that using top quality paints and tools will help you achieve the results you want and ensure those results will last.


Creative Armoires with Chalkboard PaintColor blocking

Painting the inside doors of a repurposed or unfinished armoire can personalize this piece for your children. Using Chalkboard paint creates a fun, creative surface for your child, but one that can be hidden when play time is over.

As with any painting project, surfaces preparation and priming are important to ensure the finish looks great ? and lasts through many years of use.

Chalkboard paints are available at many paint companies stores and home centers. The primary colors are either black or green, although a few specialty companies provide other colors. A web search may be the best way to find these.

For your Unfinished Wood armoire, here are the ?steps to success?.

1. Step One - Surface Preparation:
? dull any glossy areas of wood ("mill glaze") by sanding with medium (#120) grit garnet paper; wear eye protection, dust mask and work gloves

? fill any gouges with wood filler; let dry and sand flush

? lightly sand the entire area to be painted with fine (#220) grit garnet paper, then dust off with clean rags

? It?s VERY Important to remove all dust or wood fibers so chalkboard finish will be smooth.

2. Step Two - Priming:
? priming is neede to ensure adhesion of topcoat, stain blocking and sheen or gloss uniformity

? prime all surfaces to be painted, using a top quality stain blocking primer

  - Many chalkboard paints are water based, and a top quality interior stain blocking latex primer will work well
  - Some chalkboard paints are supplied in spray cans. Be sure to check with the paint professional at the store for recommendations on primers for this type of chalkboard undercoat.

3. Step Three - Painting
? use top quality chalkboard paint in the color of your choice, following manufacturer recommendation for application (either roller, foam brush or nylon brush). Two coats will give you the most durable finish. ? Most latex paints require a one week cure before use. It is also recommended to 'condition' the chalkboard by lightly rubbing chalk held horizontally over the entire surface, then washing the surface with a damp cloth. Your 'chalkboard' will then be ready for years of use.

To personalize the chalkboard, consider stenciling around the outside perimeter of the chalkboard with numbers, letters, animals or ?themes? from the room d?or and your child?s name. Use colors that will complement or contrast with the room?s color scheme.


Color Blocking

Color blockingColor blocking involves painting several colors (usually at least three) in various-sized “blocks” on the wall. Because of its visual interest, this technique is usually done on one wall in a room, and often takes the place of artwork -- behind a sofa, for example. The key is to draw the blocks in different dimensions -- varied sizes of squares and rectangles -- and map them out in a geometric, visually balanced arrangement on the wall. These blocks should be sketched on paper, then transferred to the wall and outlined lightly in pencil, then filled in with paint. Make several copies of the final design on paper for practice. Use these to play with the arrangement of colors in the design, then pick your favorite and start painting!Choosing colors for this technique can be fun, but there are some things to keep in mind to help achieve the look you’re after:• Colors from the same color card, but in varying intensities, will give your room a sophisticated, monochromatic appeal. If you’re looking for subtlety, choose colors that are next to each other on the card. • Two or three harmonious colors and a third accent hue of either black or white creates a dramatic look.• For a fun, playful look, choose complementary colors (those that are opposite one another on the color wheel) such as yellow and violet. • It is helpful to use colors of the same value, or intensity, by choosing ones that are in the same position on several color cards --- the second up from the bottom, for example. This helps achieve a feeling of balance in the finished job.• If you decide to use colors of varying intensities, you may want to experiment with several practice designs. Using more of the brighter hue will give you a bold look, while using more of the lighter one will be more soothing. Remember that the practice design is much smaller than the final product, and any color you use will intensify once it’s on a wall.

Color-blocking: How To’s• Draw blocks in varied sizes of squares and rectangles on a sheet of paper. Lay them out in a geometric, visually balanced arrangement.

• Make several smaller copies of the final design on paper, then practice with your chosen colors or experiment with different combinations.
• Once the final pattern and color scheme is set, trace the blocks onto the wall, outlining lightly with a pencil and level.
• Tape off lines using Painter’s tape (not masking tape), then paint with your choice of colors.



Dragging techniques are most often used on smooth surfaces like six-panel doors, so good surface preparation is essential. If doors are your intended project, remember they get constant use so a high quality 100% acrylic latex gloss paint is a good choice. High quality gloss alkyd paints also work well; however, they will have higher odor and take longer to dry.Follow these steps to achieve a beautiful effect - predominately the color of the topcoat, with hints of basecoat showing through:

    1. Prepare the door - fill cracks, sand and clean
    2. Paint with two layers of base coat, allowing to dry between each.
    3. Dilute the top coat (greens and other bright colors work well) with one part paint to one part glaze (if using latex paint, use a latex glaze; if using alkyd paint, use an oil based glaze)
    4. Using a dragging brush (or long haired paint brush), apply a thin layer of the colored glaze/topcoat mixture. Work with long vertical strokes, drawing the brush from top to bottom, maintaining even pressure and keeping brush strokes as parallel as possible.
    5. To avoid obvious brush marks at the point where dragging begin, use your free hand to hold the bristles firmly while starting this technique

Distressing  Family room

To create an aged look, use this technique for furniture, cabinets, vanities and more.

Step 1
Choose two colors that complement your existing color scheme. Apply the base color and let dry (1 -2 hours for latex paint and 2 - 3 hours for alkyd paints - alkyd paints may still be tacky).
Step 2
Using 100 grit sandpaper, lightly sand off patches of paint, letting the surface below show through. Clean surface and let dry 24 hours
.Step 3
Repeat the above process using the second color. Let dry 24 hours. For extra protection of the distressed look, apply a coat of clear lacquer. Be sure to use a latex or water based lacquer if you have used latex paints in your project; alkyd lacquer if you worked with alkyds paints.


Creating a custom faux fireplace Family room Celebrate the warmth of Thanksgiving in any climate by designing a custom“faux fireplace” using paint! Although a faux fireplace can be created anywhere within the home, the addition of this whimsical visual design element is especially exciting when located in non-traditional living spaces. For example, consider personalizing an accent wall in a formal dining room, a breakfast nook in a country kitchen or a sitting area in a spacious master bedroom with a unique faux fireplace.It is a good idea for decorating enthusiasts who plan to tackle the project on their own, to map out their design on a large poster board prior to applying onto the actual wall surface. A faux fireplace can be as large or as small as you prefer, depending upon your preferences and the size and shape of your wall space. If you have always yearned for a river rock fireplace, consider applying “faux” river rocks to construct your fireplace!And don’t forget the mantel! To add dimension and depth to your faux fireplace, an interesting decorative mantel can be purchased from a local salvage yard or antique store. A mantel can also be constructed using various architectural trims and moldings that are available at the local home improvement center. Add dynamic color to any mantel by personalizing with paint. Special effect paint techniques create interesting surfaces, such as a distressed looks upon a mantel that will grace a faux antique fireplace. Regardless of the climate where you reside, you can bring a fireplace into your home, thanks to the creative use of paint!Creating a faux fireplace can be fun and rewarding. Planning is most important, so best to line up all your materials first

.Step 1Family room
Decide on the size, location and design of your fireplace. Using either poster board or a computer program, make a mock up of your room with the fireplace to be sure it looks the way you want it to.
Trace the shape of the fireplace onto the wall, using a level to insure your lines are straight and plumb for rectangular or square shapes. For a curved, semi circular shape, you’ll need to use a shape to outline.For either design, you’ll need to draw in the outline of the fireplace, the face and the firebox.
Step 3
Create the ‘hearth’ using wood frame for a raised hearth – or level the area on the floor in front of the fireplace for a ground level hearth. If tiling this part, follow manufacturer’s instructions for installing tile. Another option is to paint the hearth using either decorative paint techniques or block designs. For the decorative techniques, see our Design Center. For the blocked design, seal the wood,then paint the ‘grout’ color. Using tape,mask off the grout lines, then apply the color or decorative technique you plan to use for the blocks.
Step 4
For the ‘face’ of the fireplace, choose a design that will match or be compatible with your hearth. They don’t have to be exactly the same, but should blend – color and texture. Techniques such as marbleizing, faux brick, faux slate, or just painted wood are all ideas to
think about.
Step 5
For the ‘firebox’, paint this area in a flat black paint to create a shadow look
Step 6
The mantel can either be built or purchased. Again, there are unlimited possibilities. It can be finished for a natural wood look; it can painted with the new high gloss latex paints or stenciled or distressed. Again, these decisions must all be made before starting the project and should match or complement the existing color palette in your room.
Step 7
Add a brass, glass or fabric fireplace screen to finish the project that will enhance the value of your home and amaze your family and friends.


Harlequin Design Kitchen

Harlequin is achieved by using two paint hues. First, paint the wall surface with the lighter, low sheen color and let dry completely. Next, tape off the wall sections in an elongated diamond pattern or cut a diamond template and trace the pattern on the wall surface. Of course, the size of the wall typically determines how large the diamond pattern should be. A good rule of thumb is the diamond height should be approx. twice the width. The diamonds should touch along the width and can circle the room as a border. Or, one wall can be the focal point with the diamonds lined up both horizontally and vertically.Paint the "diamond" pattern in the darker of the two colors—the sheen of the second paint should be the same as the base coat. This pattern can be quite bold if the color choices employed are complementary or it can be a subtle backdrop when completed in a monochromatic scheme.


Marbling Marbling

Marbling results can vary as much as the marbles you are trying to imitate. It’s a good idea to have a piece of marble you like before starting your project to mimic its colors and veining. Choose base coats and top coats to match the desired base marble and the textured effects respectively. Steps to achieving a white marble effect:

  1. Prepare the surface - clean, sand, fill imperfections; remove all residues
  2. Apply two coats of white basecoat, allowing each to dry thoroughly. Mix raw sienna color with one tablespoon each of white spirit and oil glaze. If using latex paints, mix the sienna color with acrylic latex glaze. Apply sparingly with an artists brush.
  3. With a small cloth, wipe away varying amounts of wet glaze, allowing patches of light and dark to form.
  4. To create the "veins" of marble, use a thin artist brush to apply the sienna glaze in lines, varying thickness to achieve desired look.


Painting Clouds Clouds

1. Paint ceiling with a top quality interior low lustre or satin latex paint in a sky blue hue. We don’t recommend flat paint for this technique. Sometimes it’s fun to bring the sky blue paint down onto the side walls (by about a foot) This will give your ceiling a three dimensional look.
Allow blue paint to dry thoroughly
Determine where you want to place your clouds, including portions of clouds on the walls if you painted them. You can use chalk marks to guide your cloud design process.
4. Materials for clouds:

  a. Top quality interior white latex paint (either satin or semi gloss)
  b. Latex glaze
  c. Cotton Rags

5. Mix 1 part white paint with 3 parts latex glaze to make ‘cloud glaze’
Using a rolled up cotton rag, apply the cloud glaze to the ‘cloud’ area. Using rags give you better control over the amount of paint. Clouds should be ‘heavier’ in the center and lighter around the edges.
To add more color and perspective, after the cloud is completely dry (>24 hours) add touches of pink, purple or hellow glaze to small sections of the cloud. Make these color glazes the same way you did the white cloud glaze.


Sheen Striping Sheen striping

Sheen striping is a technique that involves painting vertical stripes of the same color, but differing sheens, for a subtle, sophisticated look. It is often used in dining rooms, above the chair rail, or in areas that need some visual “height” due to a low ceiling.For this technique, you might choose an eggshell and a semigloss product, which will create visual interest without being overwhelming. The sheen difference should be somewhat subtle, so a flat and a high gloss may not be the best combination. In terms of color choice, let your personal preference be your guide. If you need some direction, though, here is some advice: • For dining rooms, red is often the color of choice. Red stimulates the appetite -- which is why you see it on so many restaurant walls. Green is also a good color for this room, as green is the color of many foods. • Hallways and foyers can benefit from the a “welcoming” color, like yellow, or a shade of orange, like peach or terra-cotta.• Bedrooms can become serene havens or romantic escapes by using colors like pale blue, green, or lavender.

Sheen Stripes: How To’s Materials required:

1. Painter's tape. Enough to stripe the entire room or object. Be sure to use painter’s tape (something like 3M’s Blue Tape) which will not stick as much and be less likely to pull up the flat base coast when removed.
2. Level and/or ruler
3. Quality interior acrylic flat paint
4. Quality acrylic interior semi-gloss paint (same hue or color as the flat paint)
5. Rollers, paint brushes, drop cloths, paint roller trays, stir sticks, trash bags

Step by Step Directions:

1. Make sure the wall surface or object you will paint is clean and sound.
2. Paint the wall(s) with quality acrylic interior flat or eggshell paint first. Let dry completely - overnight or longer.
3. Using painter's tape and a level, mark off the area to be painted with SG paint--typically in a vertical pattern. The usual width for each stripe is 3" to 6". The larger the space, the wider the stripe should be. It might help to have a second person help with the taping. Each "flat" and semi-gloss stripe should be the same width. Use the level to insure your lines are perfectly vertical.
4. Paint the area to be "striped" with quality semi-gloss paint - same color as the flat paint. Let dry 2 to 3 hours, then carefully remove the painters tape. Have a trash can or bag handy to toss the painter's tape in.
5. Enjoy this beautiful decorative technique!


Sponging Sponging

Sponging On is a quick and simple technique that begins with the application of a solid base paint color. After the base coat dries, a wash or glaze is applied on top with a dampened sponge to create a mottled look. More than one glaze or wash color can be applied but each layer must be allowed to dry thoroughly before the next application. Beginners may want to try neutral tones of beige and grey or different values of color in the same family for a tone on tone damask effect. Lighter colors are typically applied over darker ones to create depth, but the opposite can be done for more definition and texture. Sponging Off is accomplished by applying a uniform glaze coat over the solid base with a brush or roller. Before the glaze coat begins to dry, use the sponge to remove some of the glaze to expose the undercoat. When sponging always use a natural sea sponge instead of a synthetic household type for a more varied and interesting texture.


Ragging and Rag Rolling Ragging

These techniques give walls the dramatic effect of crushed velvet, parchment, chamois leather, watered silk or brocade. Begin with the application of a solid color base and allow it to dry. For "ragging on," dip a crumpled cloth in a glaze or wash and blot on the wall. "Ragging off" involves lifting off part of the glaze coat to reveal the under coat. "Rag-rolling on" requires the painter to roll the cloth into a sausage shape of varying tightness. Lightly dip the roll into the glaze and apply to the base coat with a rolling motion. For "rag-rolling off" roll a slightly dampened rolled cloth through the wet glaze coat to reveal the undercoat. Different fabric will create different effects. Popular materials include linen, lace, and burlap, but almost any natural fiber material will do as long as it is clean and lint-free. Layering glazes works well with this technique as long as each layer is allowed to dry thoroughly.



This technique achieves more subtle results than rag rolling or sponging and can be best described as suede-like. The process starts with the solid base coat which can be either a light or dark tone. After the base coat dries, the painter begins working from one side of the wall to the other, applying a different color topcoat (either paint or a wash) in 12" wide strips from ceiling to floor. Working quickly before the paint begins to set, the painter stabs at the wet paint with a large soft-bristled brush, removing dots of paint. To keep the brush absorbent, the painter should periodically blot the excess paint from the stippling brush. This process breaks up the wall color into a mass of very small dots which lends richness to the finish. Usually stippling involves just two topcoat colors of paint or wash. Additional colors can be incorporated into the color scheme by stippling the paint or wash on, rather than off. To do so, simply stab later colors on with a soft-bristled brush.



Painter at workIn all instances it is best to practice on a cardboard box or another surface before beginning to apply the technique on your walls. Get a sense for how much glaze to remove and what level of firmness you need to achieve the results you want. When you're confident you have the technique down, begin on your walls.


Stone Faux FinishesPainter at work

Novel ?paints? are available today for the Do It Yourselfer who desires textured finishes but may not have the time or the artistic skills for advanced decorative paint techniques. These products are available in major home centers and other paint distribution stores. Granite, Venetian Plaster and similar finishes can be applied with conventional painting techniques and some practice.

For the more enthusiastic ?artists?, here are some ideas for creating a faux stone look in your home. As with any techniques, it?s best to practice on a piece of scrap drywall or poster board before beginning the full scale project.

Step 1: Prepare the surface by cleaning, removing mildew, rinsing thoroughly and allowing to dry completely.

Step 2: Using a stone ?model? to simulate the natural colors of the look you want, select your basecoat color in an eggshell or low luster sheen. Apply two coats of a top quality paint with a roller, following manufacturer?s recommendation for dry time between coats. Allow to dry overnight.

Step 3: Using a crumpled rag or paper, apply a paint/glaze mixture (1 part latex paint to 2 parts latex glaze) in the accent color of your stone ?model?. Dab the paint/glaze mixture onto the wall to create a textured look. Continue until the entire surface has been treated. Let dry thoroughly.

Step 4: If possible trace real stone pieces onto cardboard or foam board to make ?stone blocks? templates. If real stone is not available, sketch the stone shapes by hand. Cut three or four different sizes and shapes, keeping size in proportion to the area being painted. Lightly trace the blocks on to the wall using pencil or chalk, interspersing the various shapes and sizes.

Step 5: Paint the outlines of the blocks with an artist?s brush, using earth tone colors, depending again on the stone you are simulating. Blending several earth tone colors and ?feathering? the edges will give you more rustic appearance.

For creating a Marble Stone affect, see Marble Finishes above.

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