Learning Faux Finishing

A discussion of informational and educational resources for beginning faux finishers. August 21, 2006

As a complement to my business my wife is exploring faux finishing - so when I bid a cabinet job she can turn around and bid the room as well, sort of an add-on service. I've encouraged her to start with an educational process - make lots of samples and learn everything, then do a few rooms in our home before unleashing herself on the general public. Are there any resources out there similar to this one where she can accelerate her learning process? She's been utilizing the Sherwin Williams store so far but it’s not staffed with what I would consider professional help and we have not been really happy with the advice we got there. Any suggestions?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor A:
There are classes or schools where they teach these procedures and some also teach the business end.

From contributor B:
A subscription to American Painting Contractor Magazine may prove of interest. There are always articles regarding faux work in this publication. We get it sent to the office, and we're not even in the US.

From contributor C:
I have two web site suggestions - one is on the "Custom Woodworking Business" magazine’s web site, where I have some articles on faux finishing. Related web site: Faux Finishing

I also have another web site that shows some “How To Do” faux finishes. Related web site: Mac’s Notebook

From the original questioner:
Thanks guys, these are all great resources - what I am looking for is something that will give me enough information on the material, etc. so I can figure out what to do when things don't go according to the book. For example, we did a sample board with the SW Sandstone finish last night and the finish did not lay flat. My first reaction would be to thin it (it was rolled on). I didn't readily see if the product was latex based and if so, would Floetrol help it, or mess with the properties of it – that’s the kind of information I believe I need to know to do this professionally. To contributor C: does your site deal with this kind of stuff?

From contributor C:
I don't mention any companies or their products in my articles. I'm from the old school - most of the materials I use are not bought at the finishing manufacturer or supplier. They are bought locally. I try to keep it simple, with as few steps as possible in the process.

From the original questioner:
To contributor C: I should clarify - I have been on and use your web sites and the information there is great - I can see the steps involved in a process and follow it. I'm looking for more like “what to do when things don't turn out like the article or brochure or the directions on the can”. Usually I can post up here for furniture and cabinet finishes, but faux finishes for a room? Am I just being too thick here?

From contributor D:
Here is an excellent book to purchase – “Recipe for Surfaces - Decorative Paint Finishes Made Simple” by Mindy Drucker and Pierre Finkelstein. This can be purchased at your local big box.

From contributor C:
Naturally, when working on large areas, you either need some assistance, or you need to learn to adjust your glazes open time. Another trick is to turn the fauxs into slabs rather then trying to do a whole wall. If you follow the "think twice, and finish once" you will find your own solutions. There are some good books out there, and most public libraries have some of these books that you can take out. Remember - always make up start to finish samples. That’s the best way to learn.

From contributor E:
I have this book and not only did it open my eyes to so many possibilities, I have built a good business around it – “The Art of the Painted Finish for Furniture and Decoration: Antiquing, Lacquering, Gilding and The Great Impersonators” (Paperback) by Isabel O'Neil .

From contributor C:
Isabel O'Neil was the queen of faux finishing. It's an old book, but a great one. I have not heard her name in years. Many finishers have copied from her, even her students. At one time, her book was in every library. Many books are written for oils, so if you’re into water base stains, coatings, etc., you will need to learn to make the conversion over to the newer coatings.

From contributor F:
I’m probably going to get myself into trouble again but what the heck. Most of the books printed on faux finishes are OK and really deal with projects that are on a small scale. If you’ve ever done a faux finish on a larger scale you know what I mean. Walls or panels dictate a different approach.