Plain, solid-colored walls are boring and can make your room look stark or empty. Instead of shopping around for the perfect painting or messing around with hard-to-apply wallpaper, decorate your walls with faux painting techniques. Faux painting creates unique textures and patterns on your walls or ceiling that are so beautiful, they don’t require any additional decor!

Faux painting is an ancient concept of applying paint with various tools to replicate other materials. Faux painting can replicate marble, concrete, brick, cotton, leather, and more. Yes, you read that right – you can make your walls look like leather! Each design is one hundred percent customizable. Pick any combination of colors. Layer different faux painting techniques together. The possibilities are endless!

What is Faux Painting?

Faux painting is a decorative painting technique. A wall is considered to have been done in a “faux painting” technique when the painting is done to look like another material. It can texturize the final finish of the paint to look stucco or it can be painted in a design like stripes or bricks. Faux painting is used to replicate wood, marble, stone, and plaster.

Some techniques like wall striping and sponging are simple and easy to DIY. Other methods like rag rolling and strie require professional experience. The cost of professional faux painting depends on the size of the room or wall and which technique you choose. On average, expect to pay $500 per wall. However, advanced techniques can fetch upwards of $10,000 to complete just one room!

The most common faux painting techniques are whitewashing, sponging, and marbleizing. Different shades of paint and different applicators can create one-of-a-kind designs that will elevate the overall aesthetic of your home. 

Is Faux Painting Still Popular in 2022?

Luxury finishes are rising in popularity. Marble, granite, and leather are becoming more and more common in contemporary designs. It isn’t feasible (or practical!) for the average homeowner to cover their walls in high-end stone. Faux painting is a popular compromise. Using techniques like marbleizing, rag rolling, and white washing, professional painters can replicate the look of marble and leather for a fraction of the cost!

Minimalism is also trending in 2022. This includes a return to basic materials. A popular faux painting effect in 2022 is to simulate concrete. Professional painters use a combination of strie and paint washing techniques to mimic concrete. Various tones of gray and white are layered sporadically to create the look of hard stone. Minimalist and industrial designs are popular in loft-style apartments and contemporary homes.

Faux painting techniques will always have a place in the hospitality industry. In many cases, faux painting techniques are less expensive and more durable than wallpaper. As a result, faux painting is popular in hotels and banquet facilities. Faux painting is also an excellent way to exude a particular style or location. Restaurants commonly use brick faux painting designs in cafes and pizzerias. Whereas sponging and lime washing can represent plaster or stucco in Spanish or Caribbean restaurants. 

Finally, the surge of farmhouse-style designers has repopularized whitewashing and antiquing. These techniques are usually limited to statement pieces like built-ins, stair railings, and large furniture pieces. However, recently, homeowners have started applying wood to their ceilings to create a paneled effect. This wood is then whitewashed or antiques to give a rustic, barnyard look.

Different Faux Painting Ideas and Costs

Faux painting has been popular for thousands of years. It first reached its design peak in the 1920s when the art deco style became popular. It was revitalized in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Some techniques have maintained their popularity through 2022. Faux painting is a great way to replicate expensive materials like marble, leather, and luxury fabric. Even the most extensive faux painting techniques don’t exceed $15 per square foot. 

Color Washing

Color washing gives the illusion of a broken paint finish. A base color is painted. Then a second color is thinned with a translucent glaze. The thinned secondary paint color and plain glaze are applied over the base color in a feathered pattern. This technique provides a serious dimension to your walls and can be created using monotones or strongly contrasting colors.

This technique is popular in libraries and traditional offices. This type of faux painting is moderately expensive. Professional painters will charge between $4 and $8 per square foot. Color washing is also the easiest faux painting technique to DIY.


The marbling faux painting technique uses contrasting colors to replicate the look of natural stone. A base color is applied to the entire wall. This color is usually pigmented like black, beige, or gold. Then a neutral paint color (usually white) is sponged over the base color in a pattern that mimics marble. Tinted and metallic glazes will also be worked in to look like the mica specks found in natural marble and quartz stone. 

This technique is especially popular in bathrooms and foyers. Popular color combinations are black and white, green white and black, and white, beige, and orange. Marbleizing is a more advanced technique that requires multiple shades of paints and tints. Professional painters charge an average of $6-$12 a square foot. 

Strie Technique

Strie painting is a specialized skill and is therefore one of the more expensive of the faux painting techniques. A base coat is applied to the wall. Then a contrasting colored glaze is applied over that base coat. The painter then runs their paintbrush through the glazes in vertical, horizontal, or hatched lines. The final effect simulates fabric. This technique requires a steady hand and unwavering patience. The average cost for a professional painter to do the strie technique is $8 to $12 per square foot.


The diamond faux painting technique is all about measuring and painter’s tape. First, apply a base color. Then tape off diamond shapes by using blue painter’s tape. Apply a secondary color either around the diamonds or in the diamonds. The result is an elegant checkered effect.

Diamonds can be painted using two tones of the same color like light pink and magenta. Or it can be painted in contrasting colors like black and white. This technique is pretty simple. Professional painters charge an average of $4 per square foot to paint diamonds on your wall.

Lime Washing

Lime washing is also referred to as whitewashing. The traditional method involved using a lime solution, but this technique was phased out due to the toxicity of lime. Now painters use a water-based paint and dilute it in equal parts water. The paint is applied in thin coats in a variety of directions. Rags are also used to blend. The final effect is multi-dimensional tones of the same color that look aged or antiqued. This faux painting technique is popular in banquet halls, funeral homes, and libraries.

It is possible to whitewash your walls at home. However, in order to achieve the ultimate effect, various tools and applicators need to be used. The cost of professional lime washing varies from $6 to $15 per square foot.

Prickling Wood

The prickling wood technique replicates beach or ocean-tossed driftwood. Wood paneling is sanded and then bleached to lighten the overall color. Next, the painter applies a mixture of water-downed primer and paint to the treated wood. This emphasizes the grain pattern and any natural imperfections of the wood. This effect is more common in rustic and farmhouse-style homes. Professional painters charge anywhere from $5 to $10 a square foot to create the prickling wood effect.

Wood Graining

The wood graining technique uses various colors of paint to create a faux wood grain on the wall. The final result is rustic and cozy. This technique is fairly expensive because it involves hand painting and a lot of experience. To get the full impact of wood graining, it is best to paint all the doors and trim on the wall with the same technique. Professional painters charge anywhere from $8 to $12 per square foot to paint a wood grain pattern on the walls or ceiling. 

Brick Design

To achieve an authentic brick design, painters use varied stacked rectangles of color to mimic the look of natural brick. To make it look as authentic as possible, several tones of red and orange are used. Painters use gray or beige to simulate mortar. Faux painting in a brick design can have a flat or textured finish. This technique is widely used in industrial design styles. Professional painters charge $6 to $12 per square foot to paint a faux brick design.


Sponging is a simple faux painting technique that is popular with home improvement DIYers. If you do it yourself, it is cheaper than wallpaper and can add dimension to a room. Professional painters charge an average of $4 per square foot for a sponging technique.

To get the most dimension, apply a combination of two base coats in a non-directional pattern. Then take a sea sponge dipped in glaze and press it into the wall. This will blend the two base colors together, mute different tones, and create a unique pattern.


Stenciling is a very difficult technique with a lot of room for error. As the name suggests, stencils of different patterns or images are attached to the wall. Painters fill in the stencil with different colors to create beautiful designs and wall art. The options with stenciling are limitless but expensive. Professional painters charge between $10 and $15 per square foot to achieve this faux painting effect.

Wall Stripes

Wall stripes are an easy and classic design technique. First, apply a base color to the wall. Then tape off straight lines in whatever thickness you want the base color to come through. Paint the non-taped areas with a contrasting color. Stripes can be painted thick or thin and you can use as many different colors as you want. Professional painters charge $2 to $4 per square foot to complete wall stripes. Although most homeowners elect to do this faux painting technique themselves.


Antiquing is commonly confused with whitewashing. This faux painting technique is more popular for furniture than walls. A base color is painted. Then a rag with a tinted glaze is rubbed over the base color. The final result is a weathered and aged appearance. Antiquing is commonly used to distress furniture. It is a simple effect to recreate but is time-consuming as it is done by hand. Professional painters charge $4 to $8 per square foot to antique a wall.

Rag Rolling

Rag rolling is a unique faux painting technique that replicates leather once dried. Painters lay down a base color onto the wall. Then they take a bundle of rolled rags and push them through the tinted glaze. The rags are then pressed and rolled over the base color wall. This technique is highly specialized. Achieving the look of leather is difficult and this technique can come out blotchy if done incorrectly. Professional painters charge anywhere from $6 to $10 per square foot for rag rolling. 

Paint Glazing

The price of paint glazing depends on the intricacy of the design you want to be painted. A translucent glaze is mixed with paint and tints to create a faux see-through effect on the walls. This technique can involve multiple colors. It is commonly used in conjunction with another faux painting technique to create a unique finish. Professional painters charge for paint glazing based on the requested design and color story. Rates start at $4 per square foot and go as high as $12 per square foot.


Verdigris is meant to simulate patina on copper. Painters use layers of different shades of copper and light, medium, and dark greens to achieve this look. Verdigris is usually used on furniture, light fixtures, and hardware. Since it is meant to replicate metal, it is most common to use this technique on hard surfaces. The easiest way to paint verdigris is to start with a bronze or copper shade. Then layer light and medium tones of green. Wipe these away with a cloth or sponge. Add in darker tones of green sporadically to attain the most natural patina look.

What Faux Painting Color Combinations Should I Use?

The best part about faux painting is that each application is different from the last. You can use any combination of colors. 

If you are only painting one wall, it is a good idea to get inspiration from your existing decor. For example, if the rest of the room is gray and white with pops of yellow, use these colors in your faux painting design. Some techniques look best with bright coloring so this is a great opportunity to introduce or emphasize an accent color. Faux painting techniques that look the best with bright colors are color washing, wall stripes, and sponging. 

Some techniques rely on nature for the color selection. For example, if you want to paint with the marbleizing technique, you want to choose colors that are commonly found in real marble. The top color combinations for marbleizing are black, white, and gold, green, black, and white, or brown, black, and gray. Choosing bright primary colors like yellow and red are not good choices for marbleizing because natural stone does not present in those colors.

Take your time and look for examples for inspiration. The same faux painting technique can look widely different after colors are chosen. Wall striping can look contemporary, retro, or traditional – it all depends on the paint colors. Dark browns, greens, blues, and a gold trend towards antique or traditional styles. Soft monotone stripes like varying shades of gray are super contemporary. Whereas bright contrasting colors like pink, chartreuse, and aqua combine to give a cool retro vibe.


Faux painting is a decorative painting technique that is used to replicate luxury materials like marble, leather, and wood. Depending on the size of the space and the intricacy of the design, the cost of faux painting can range from $2 to $15 per square foot. The average cost to complete an entire room is $2,400. 

Any variety of color combinations can be integrated with faux painting techniques to give a unique, one-of-a-kind texture. There are several faux painting techniques that are easy to DIY like wall striping and sponging. The most difficult techniques are stenciling, whitewashing, and rag rolling. 

Faux painting is a popular decorating technique that can transform the walls of your home into works of art. Before hiring a professional painter, always consult their portfolio book. Some painters will only specialize in certain techniques. Do your research and find reference photos to ensure that the final result is exactly what you had envisioned for your home or business!

Resources and Related Articles

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Faux Painting: A Beginner’s Guide with Techniques, Ideas and Samples

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