Faux Finish Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

Below is a list of techniques, types and motifs used in faux painting with short description of each.
Antiquing or Aging: A technique intended to give the appearance of age or wear.
Borders: Stenciled and hand painted borders are used to soften the edges of rooms and ceiling lines and add interest to the space.
Brocade or Damask design: A highly decorative stencil is applied in flat sheen paint over a broken color finish in a satin sheen. The stencil is repeated in a pattern, giving the walls the appearance of “brocade” fabric.
Canopy or tented ceiling: A trompe l’oeil painting on ceilings depicting the inside of a canopy or striped tent.
Children’s Murals: Baby nurseries and children’s rooms are perfect places to apply murals. Themes can vary widely from Jungle murals to City Murals from Space murals to dinosaur murals. It can include their favorite video game or movie characters.
Color Wash – Old World: This finish creates the illusion of an old Tuscan plaster effect. By applying multiple layers we can create depth and movement and a hint of drama.
Crackle: A finish in which cracking is intentionally produced, allowing the undercoat to show through the cracks. A rapid drying of topcoat over slow drying undercoat produces this interesting technique.
Distressing: Also a term used to describe a decorative paint finish that gives the appearance of age and wear.
Faux Finishes: French word meaning “fake or false”. Technically, wood-graining, marbleizing, or other painted finishes that are replicating a natural material are faux finishes. However, this term has become an umbrella name to describe all painted decorative finishes.
Faux Wood Grain or Faux Bois: creating the illusion of wood using tools,paints and glazes.
Frottage: (in decorative painting) This comes from the French word meaning “to rub”. The decorative paint term denotes a technique of applying a wet glaze, then rubbing it with fabric, paper or other materials, to create a texture.
Gilding: The application of metal in any form (gold or other metallic leaf, metallic foil, metallic paint, metallic powder, etc.).
Glazing: Process of applying a tinted, but transparent paint over a base coat to create a softly modulated, watercolor effect. The darkness of the basecoat and the number of layers of glaze applied can create a rich saturated appearance and works well in dark reds, blues and greens.
Grisaille: Architectural trompe l’oeil painting done in monochromatic colors suggesting solid form, perspective or decorative plasters motifs.
Harlequin diamonds: Harlequin diamonds are painted in a pattern in either subtly contrasting colors or sheens and can also be applied in a subtractive paint finish, creating a classic and elegant appearance.
Landscape murals: A mural that depicts the outside environment including the sky, the foreground and distant horizon line between the land or sea and sky.
Lusterstone: Is a name brand for a plaster that has a subtle metallic finish. Other manufacturers have similar products.
Marbleizing: A faux finish that creates the illusion of marble.
Metallic finishes: Decorative finishes that use metallic paint in various techniques over other painted finishes. Golds, silvers and bronzes are used over different colored base coats to achieve the appearance of antique gold, burnished bronze or shimmering silver.
Murals: A mural is defined as a painted picture on a wall or ceiling.
Opentime: This is a faux finish term used to describe the time available to work a technique before the paint dries.
Paint sheen: All house paints, glazing liquids and top coats have different sheens and can affect the success of certain decorative paint techniques. They will also affect the final look and appearance of the room. Paint sheens vary from flat (a non reflective, dull finish) to high gloss.
Patina: A term used to describe the the natural aging of metals like the greenish color that forms on copper or the rust on iron. It can be reproduced with out waiting for 10 years and can immediately add age to any piece.
Pigments or Universal Tint: Material mixed into paint bases to create paint colors.
Rag Roll: A decorative paint technique that involves applying or subtracting color by “rolling” a damp crumpled rag over the wall surface.
Ragging: A decorative paint finish that is either applied or subtracted with a crumpled damp rag.
Reference material: Pictures from magazines, books, Internet or personal photos that the artist uses as a guide in color selection, techniques, or mural painting.
Skip Trowel: A technique used when applying plaster in such a way that you leave texture on the wall by leaving small areas with no plaster.
Stipple: A decorative treatment also known as”Pouncing”. A glaze or paint is applied to the surface and while it is wet, a stippler is pounced onto the surface causing the glaze to disperse into tiny dots. Stippling gives a very even film of glaze while removing brush strokes in a wet glaze.
Stone block or Faux Brick: This is a trompe l’oeil technique giving the painted surface the appearance of a stone block wall or brick.
Strie: A technique used for achieving a subtle mix of fine stripes (or brush strokes) by pulling a dry, stiff bristled brush or rubber comb through wet paint.
Texture: Paint finishes create various degrees of 2-dimensional texture by adding or subtracting gently contrasting color paint in the techniques described above. 2-dimensional texture adds warmth, character, and depth to an interior. There is also a 3-dimensional texture created by adding such things as plaster,glass beads or textural glazes.
Trompe l’oeil: French expression meaning, “To deceive the eye”. A painting technique in which an illusion of depth and reality is created by emphasizing highlights and shadows. In art, trompe l’oeil is defined as a ‘still life deception’, a painting able to make the viewer believe that an object actually exists in 3D space, in relief. It also means illusion, a deceptive appearance, eyewash or camouflage, in short ‘Fool the eye’!
Venetian Plaster: Involves the application of pigmented limestone and marble dust to create the look and feel of authentic stone. There are many different types of Venetian plaster and each one has a different purpose. Some my be super high gloss when burnished while others might have a matte finish and designed to be applied both interior and exterior.