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Faux finish & Broken colour


faux finishing - painted wood
Faux bois – painted wood grain

False finishes and patinas

Faux finishing is the art of painting one surface to look like another. In the example right the material is sheet metal. The surface is painted to look like old weathered pine.

Walls and columns can often be seen painted to look like marble. Sometimes the painted marble is more costly than the real thing.

A sub-category of faux finishing is paint effects wherein techniques are used to combine colours directly on the surface. Sometimes the paint is deliberately removed to allow the base colour to show through, this technique is often referred to as broken colour. This type of faux finishing is frequently used in distressing. Distressing a paint finish has the effect of making the surface look old and worn and is a technique frequently used in reproduction antique furniture.

Please check the glossary page for definitions, terms, styles, brush types etc.


Examples of faux finishing

Two pine doors. In the photo of the two different doors, the one on the right was painted with a faux finishing technique to make it look like mahogany so that it would match the mahogany furniture of the office

In the second photo the door is shown hung next to the real mahogany furniture of the office


faux finish wood grain
Mahogany painted on pine


faux finish wood grain
False mahogany next to the real thing

These columns were painted to coincide with the marble on the floor, a normal use for faux finishing.

Unfortunately the client decided that my 30 years of experience in interior decoration and faux finishing wasn’t to be used and the result to me appeared a little “false”.

No one on the job actually had any knowledge of bases, shafts and capitals, see here for more information. It would also be fairly rare to find pillars of this size in one piece today and are often coursed. Similarly the bases and caps are out of proportion and do not help with the illusion of being real pillars.


faux finish marble
Columns waiting for faux finish marble


faux finish marble
Columns with faux finish marble


Here you can see various paint effect and faux finishing on varying surfaces.

Yellow and silver paint effect


acabados falsos paint effects
Paint effect on walls and doors


acabados falsos Paint effect
Paint effect on walls and doors

This room was painted in silver and yellows with basic colour blending techniques.

Two colours of yellow were used, one slightly green the other going towards orange. The walls were painted with rags and the fielded panels in the doors with a feather. The silver was painted last to tidy up the edges.

Painted wood effects

These effects show how one surface can be painted to appear that they are made of a different material.


acabados falsos faux painting
Graining on a metal door


acabados falsos faux painting
Old cracked paint effect


faux finish door
Wood grain on metal sheets

Graining as part of a trompe l’œil


acabados falsos faux painting and trompe l' oeil
Metal security door with trompe l’œil grain

This door featured here is metal security door in a bar/restaurant. The bar owner asked me if I could change it using a faux finish so that it would tie in with the decor and not be so ugly.

I grained and paneled it to fit with the rest of the decoation.

This is an example of “trompe l’œil