Faux finishing is a great way to transform the look of a room or space, adding textures, patterns, and colors to make simple surfaces look different. Some paints and techniques can be used to make walls look like marble, wood, and metal, and due to the immense detail involved in this work, it is usually handled by a specialized professional.
The national average cost for faux painting services is $2,000 to $4,000, with most homeowners paying $2,400 to apply a marble effect to 400 sq.ft. of walls. This project’s low cost is $250 to have simple stripes painted on a feature wall. The high cost is $10,000 for Venetian plaster on four walls of a living room or bedroom.
|Faux Finish Pricing|
|National average cost||$2,400|
Faux finishing or faux painting means painting or applying certain finishes to surfaces and materials to make them look like something else. In the past, the term faux painting was most commonly used because paint was the simplest option for making plaster 1 and other surfaces look like marble or wood. Over time, new techniques and finishing methods were developed, so faux finishing is a broader term to include these new options.
The word faux in French translates to false, describing how the concept of faux finishing is about creating a false version of something. It can replicate the look and feel of many different materials, including marble, granite, various wood grains, metals, and leather. Some techniques make walls and surfaces look antique or distressed, while other create more abstract patterns and textures.
There are two main categories of faux finishing: glaze painting and plaster application. For glaze painting, special paints, sometimes mixed with glazes, are applied to the walls using rags, sponges, brushes, or rollers to achieve the desired effect. Special tinted plasters or earth pigments are carefully applied to the walls for plaster application, often using trowels or spatulas.
Faux painting and finishing specialists often charge per square foot. This makes estimating each project’s overall costs easier, but the prices vary depending on the paint type and finishing technique. Costs range from $6 to $12 per sq.ft. for faux finishing for the most common faux paint finishes, although some higher-end ones like Venetian plaster can be much more expensive.
|Faux Painting Project Size (95 Sq.Ft. Wall)||Average Cost|
|One Wall||$570 - $1,140|
|Two Walls||$1,140 - $2,280|
|Three Walls||$1,710 - $3,420|
|Entire Room||$2,280 - $4,560|
Faux finishing and painting experts typically charge per square foot rather than by the hour because the costs and level of labor vary greatly, depending on which faux finishing you want. However, it is possible to pay by the hour in some cases. Expect to pay at least $50 per hour for basic faux painting, and the hourly rates can reach $150 and higher for more advanced techniques and specialized painters.
Some painters choose to charge per project. The overall project cost depends on many factors, including the painter’s rates, how large the project is, and the faux technique. Expect to pay between $2,000 and $4,000 for the average faux paint job. However, smaller and less labor-intensive projects can cost as low as $250, while a more complex vision can easily cost $10,000.
Aside from the size of the walls you want painted, the paint or finish is the other main factor determining the cost. Some faux painting types are simple and do not require advanced materials, but others require expensive paints and plasters. The following table shows the cost of the most important faux painting finishes.
|Type of Faux Painting||Average Cost per Sq.Ft.|
|Stripes||$2 - $4|
|Diamonds||$3 - $5|
|Sponging||$3 - $5|
|Antiquing||$4 - $8|
|Color Washing||$4 - $8|
|Glazing||$4 - $12|
|Pickling||$5 - $10|
|Rag Rolling||$6 - $10|
|Crackling||$6 - $12|
|Whitewashing||$6 - $15|
|Strie||$8 - $12|
|Verdigris||$8 - $15|
|Stenciling||$10 - $15|
|Venetian Plaster||$10 - $25|
Stripes are among the most affordable forms of specialist painting, costing between $2 and $4 per sq.ft. Stripes are one of the simplest options to choose when decorating a feature wall or changing the look of a room because they do not require special equipment or experience. You can opt for various colors and stripe sizes, giving you many options for your project. It is possible to do both horizontal and vertical stripes.
Another fun way to paint your walls is in a diamond pattern, costing between $3 and $5 per sq.ft. This takes some time but does not require special materials. The key is to ensure all the measurements and angles are correct, so it is best to hire a pro. It involves applying a first coat in one color, waiting for it to dry, and then using tape to mark a diamond pattern before applying a second color. When you remove the tape, the diamonds appear.
Different colored paints and glazes can create all kinds of effects, and sponging walls is appealing because it only costs $3 to $5 per sq.ft. Sponging is one of the most basic decorative techniques, but it produces very beautiful walls. It is so simple that you can do it yourself, but it is often best to hire a professional to achieve the best results. Sponging uses a sponge instead of a brush or roller to apply paint to the wall to create unique patterns and looks.
Antiquing is a relatively simple technique, costing between $4 and $8 per sq.ft. It is a great way to give something a more traditional appearance. It is more often used on furniture pieces than walls, but it can be used on walls. It involves a base coat of paint and some glaze, with the painter carefully using a cloth to wipe the glaze in the correct way to create the antique look.
Color washing is a relatively affordable technique at $4 to $8 per sq.ft. Sometimes known as broken finishing, color washing is an old but popular technique that creates a distressed or weathered look on a wall. It is a nice way to add rustic charm to a room, and it typically involves applying a glaze over a base layer of paint and then moving it around in circular patterns.
Applying paint glaze ranges from $4 to $12 per sq.ft., depending on the textures and appearances you want. This is a common technique used throughout faux finishing and painting, where a mixture of paints and glazes are applied to the walls to give them a different look or texture.
Pickling can only be used on wooden surfaces and costs between $5 and $10 per sq.ft. It lightens or bleaches the wood, and it is quite simple to pull off. First, the wood needs to be sanded down a little, and then a mix of primer and water is added and carefully wiped across the surface. A layer of sealant may need to be applied at the end to finish the job.
It is possible to make your walls look like worn leather or stucco through a technique known as rag rolling. This costs between $6 and $10 per sq.ft. The process is not difficult but requires experience and expertise to produce the best results. It involves using a twisted piece of rag to apply the paint and glaze in an irregular pattern, creating the desired effect.
Crackle painting or crackling is a useful technique for giving walls or other surfaces a worn and weathered look. Averaging between $6 and $12 per sq.ft., it can be useful in rustic or country-style homes. The process involves using different colored paints, a special crackle medium, and varnish.
A couple of different methods can be used for whitewashing, ranging from $6 to $15 per sq.ft. Also sometimes known as lime washing, whitewashing produces a chalky finish on the walls and has been popular for centuries. It is a great fit for rustic homes or those wanting a unique, striking feature wall.
Strie is a French word translated to ribbed or striped. For a strie faux finish, a mixture of paint and glaze is applied to the wall. This finish costs between $8 and $12 per sq.ft. Usually, a base coat of paint is applied first, and then the second layer of a slightly different color is applied on top. While the second coat is still wet, the painter drags a brush through it, creating a unique textured stripe-like pattern.
A verdigris finish costs between $8 and $15 per sq.ft. The term verdigris refers to a green pigment used in Greek art. The term also refers to the natural patina 2 that forms when certain metals like copper are exposed to air. A famous example is the green hue of the Statue of Liberty. Today, techniques can replicate the look of aged copper. The job involves sanding the surface, applying several coats of paint, and using various dragging and blotting movements to create the unique look of a verdigris surface.
Stenciling is one of the most popular decorative painting techniques. Costs range between $10 and $15 per sq.ft. It is not too difficult, but it takes time and effort, and the slightest mistake can be problematic, so it is best left to the professionals. It involves using borders and stencils 3 to create intricate painted patterns around a room, and there are several design options. You can draw your own designs, which you can turn into professional stencils, or use one of the many pre-made stencils.
Venetian plaster, also known as lime plaster, has been used since the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, and it creates a durable, long-lasting, stylish textured finish, costing between $10 and $25 per sq.ft. It is one of the more advanced faux finishing techniques. Instead of applying paint and glaze to the walls, this technique involves using a putty, made by blending fired limestone 4 with water. As the resulting mixture is applied to the walls and exposed to the carbon dioxide in the air, it solidifies back into a limestone form.
Faux painting techniques may be used to imitate different materials. For example, you could make a surface look like wood using wood graining or have a metallic feel with the proper paint type. Other materials that can be imitated using painting techniques are concrete, marble, granite, brick, and stone.
|Faux Material||Price per Sq.Ft.|
|Concrete||$6 - $10|
|Stone||$6 - $10|
|Marble||$6 - $12|
|Granite||$6 - $12|
|Brick||$6 - $12|
|Metal||$6 - $15|
|Wood||$8 - $12|
It is also possible to have a wall painted and finished to look like concrete by using a plaster blade to add texture. This costs between $6 and $10 per sq.ft. and involves using different shades of gray, white, and a little black paint to create a mixture of shades and tones.
A faux stone finish makes a wall look like stone. Costs for this process range from $6 to $10 per sq.ft. Like other methods, it mostly involves using different shades of paint and glaze applied with care and precision to create the appearance of real stone.
Faux marble painting or marbleizing is when a wall is decoratively painted and glazed to look like marble. Ranging from $6 to $12 per sq.ft, it is great for feature walls or around fireplaces and much cheaper than real marble. This process usually involves an initial base coat of paint and several layers of tinted glazes over the top.
Granite is a beautiful and popular stone with interior designers and decorators because of its distinctive patterns and forms. Faux granite finish ranges between $6 to $12 per sq.ft. and it’s a good way to give your wall a granite look without expending as much as you would with original granite. This process typically involves applying a glaze mixture to the wall and using different techniques like sponging and speckling to recreate the little details and textured appearance of true granite.
The level of detail on this wall varies greatly along with the price, ranging from $6 to $12 per sq.ft. If you have an industrial-style home, urban theme, or like the look of bricks, you can opt to have a decorative brick wall in one or more of your rooms. The technique for this depends on who does the job. A simple method is to use tape to define the edges of the bricks and then use sponging to apply paint and glaze to create the look of the bricks. Once that dries, the tape is removed. The mortar color between the bricks can be applied before or after making the bricks. Giving the bricks rounded edges and chips makes them look real and worn.
It is also possible to make your walls take on a metal-like hue or replicate the appearance of real metal. The price varies according to the metal type you want, ranging from $6 to $15 per sq.ft. This can be a great look for industrial-style homes and works well in a range of different rooms. Like other techniques, it involves using paints and glazes to create the effect. You can also opt for different colors, metals, and levels of detail.
Wood graining is one of the oldest faux painting techniques, used to make simple walls resemble wood. This technique can be expensive, costing between $8 and $12 per sq.ft. Wood graining can be used on doors, furniture pieces, and walls, and it requires specialized experience to achieve the most realistic and impressive effects.
Typical paint jobs require prep work before the painting begins, and faux paint jobs are no different. To ready the space, your painters need to follow a few steps. This will make the actual painting process easier and ensures lasting results. To begin, they will measure the area and determine how many coats they want to apply to achieve full coverage. From this, they determine how much paint and primer they need.
Speak with your contractor before they arrive to determine if they want you to prep the area beforehand. Some painting companies include moving furniture and decorations in their fee, but others expect you to do it before they arrive. The walls must be cleaned and potentially repaired, depending on the condition. Your painting contractor may decide to use a primer before painting. You can usually avoid using a primer if your walls are smooth and white, but it is always better to use primer because it helps the paint adhere to the surface better. After this prep, they can start painting.
Faux finishes are great for adding style and depth to your room, but sometimes they do not stand the test of time. Whether your room feels outdated or you want a change, you may want to paint over it. While it is possible to paint over a faux finish, it involves preparation on your end. However, many painters include cleaning and preparations in their rate.
Depending on what faux finish your wall has, you or your painters should take a couple of steps. For example, textured finishes should always be sanded down with a fine-grit disc. Regardless of whether you decide to sand, the next step should be to clean the walls. This can be done with an all-purpose cleaner and water. Since you will be making such a drastic change to the wall color and finish, it is important to use a quality latex primer to form a new foundation.
Other surfaces around the room can be decoratively painted, including ceilings and trims. Adding texture or unique looks to ceilings is a great way to enhance a space, and trims can be decorated to look distressed, aged, antique, or take on the appearance of different woods and materials. Costs for painting the ceiling can sometimes be slightly higher than for walls because the job can be more difficult, ranging from $2 to $30 per sq.ft., depending on the painting or finishing type required. Expect to pay between $2 and $10 per linear foot for trim.
Venetian plaster typically costs $10 to $25 per sq.ft., but costs can be higher with certain companies.
Faux painting and finishing are popular and commonly used by leading 8 interior designers and decorators around the globe.
Yes, faux painting is more expensive than a regular paint job on average, ranging from $2,000 to $4,000 to apply a faux paint effect to 400 sq.ft. of walls. Faux painting takes longer than standard paint jobs due to the intricate work. Plus, it requires a highly skilled painter, who will charge more for their services.
No, but several paints and glazes can be combined to create a marble look in a technique called marbleizing. This technique is a cost-effective way to achieve the look of marble without the hefty price tag.