How Much Does It Cost to Paint Walls With Decorative Finish?

Average range: $2,000 - $4,000
Average Cost
(marble finishing applied professionally to 400 square feet of wall)

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Reviewed by Nieves Martinez. Written by

Faux finishing is a great way to transform the look of a room or space, adding textures, patterns, colors, and more to make simple surfaces look different. Some paints and techniques can be used to make walls look like marble, wood, metal, or more, and due to the immense detail involved in this work, it is usually handled by a specialized professional.

The costs for faux finishing varies widely, but the national average is $2,000 - $4,000 to hire faux painting services. Most homeowners pay $2,400 to apply a marble effect to 400 sq.ft. of walls. At the low end of the price range, you can have simple stripes painted on a feature wall for $250. If you want Venetian plaster on all four walls of a living room or bedroom, expect a price of $10,000 or more.

Cost to Paint Walls With Decorative Finish

Wall Decorative Finish Painting Costs
National average cost$2,400
Average range$2,000-$4,000​

Wall Decorative Finish Painting Cost by Project Range

Stripes painted professionally on an 80 square foot feature wall
Average Cost
Marble finishing applied professionally to 400 square feet of wall
Venetian plaster applied professionally to 400 square feet of wall

What is Faux Painting?

Faux finishing or faux painting essentially 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 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 in English, describing how the entire concept of faux finishing is about creating a false version of something. It can be used to replicate the look and feel of many different materials, including marble, granite, various types of wood grain, metals, and even leather. Some techniques make walls and surfaces look antique or distressed and 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.

Living room with grey textured faux painting wall

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Faux Painting Price per Square Foot

Often, faux painting and finishing specialists charge per square foot. This makes it easier to estimate each project’s overall costs, but the prices vary depending on the type of paint or finishing technique used. Costs range from $2 to $20 per square foot for faux finishing, although some prestigious companies and specialist painters charge much more. The simpler paints tend to be cheaper, with the more advanced finishing options costing more per square foot.

Faux Painting Cost by Type of Technique

Aside from the size of the walls you want painted, the type of paint or finish you desire is the other main factor determining the cost. Some faux painting types are simple to do and do not require the use of advanced materials, but others require expensive paints and plasters. The following table shows the cost of the most important faux painting finishes:

Faux Painting Costs

Faux Painting Costs

Type of Faux PaintingAverage Cost per Sq. Ft.
Stripes$2 - $4
Diamonds$3 - $5
Sponging$3 - $5
Antiquing$4 - $8
Color Washing$4 - $8
Paint Glaze$4 - $12
Pickling$5 - $10
Stone$6 - $10
Rag Rolling$6 - $10
Faux Concrete$6 - $10
Marble$6 - $12
Granite$6 - $12
Brick$6 - $12
Crackling$6 - $12
Whitewashing$6 - $15
Metallic$6 - $15
Strie$8 - $12
Wood Graining$8 - $12
Verdigris$8 - $15
Stenciling$10 - $15
Venetian Plaster$10 - $25

Painting Stripes on Walls

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 potential options for your project. It is possible to do both horizontal or vertical stripes as desired. Stripes are among the most affordable forms of specialist painting, costing between $2 and $4 per square foot.

Diamond Wall Finish

Another fun way to paint your walls is in a diamond pattern. This takes some time but does not require special materials. The key is to make sure 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. This costs between $3 and $5 per square foot.

Sponging Walls

Sponging is one of the most basic decorative techniques, but it produces very beautiful walls. It is so simple that you can do it alone, but it is often best to hire a professional to get 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. Different colored paints and glazes can be used to create all kinds of effects, and sponging walls are appealing because they only cost $3 to $5 per square foot.

Antiquing Walls

Antiquing is a great technique to give something an old and antique appearance. It is more often used on furniture pieces than walls, but it can still be used on walls if desired. It simply involves a base coat of paint and some glaze, with the painter carefully using a cloth to wipe the glaze in the right way to create the antique look. This is a relatively simple technique, costing between $4 and $8 per square foot.

Color Washing Paint Techniques for Walls

Sometimes known as broken finishing, color washing is an old but popular technique that creates a distressed or weathered look to a wall. It is a nice way to add rustic charm to a room, and typically involves applying glaze over a base layer of paint and then moving it around in circular patterns. Color washing is a relatively affordable technique at $4 to $8 per square foot.

Paint Glaze Walls

Paint glaze 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. This ranges from $4 to $12 per square foot, depending on the textures and appearances you want.

Pickling Wood Walls

Pickling can only be used on wooden surfaces. 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 off the job. This costs between $5 and $10 per square foot.

Faux Stone Finish

A faux stone finish is one that makes a wall look like stone. 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. Costs for this range between $6 and $10 per square foot.

Rag Rolled Walls

It is even possible to make your walls take on the look of worn leather or stucco through a technique known as rag rolling. This one 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. This costs between $6 and $10 per square foot.

Faux Concrete Wall Finish

It is also possible to have a wall painted and finished to look like concrete. This involves using different shades of gray, white, and even a little black paint to create a mixture of shades and tones. A plaster blade may be used for glazing to add texture to the wall, which typically costs between $6 and $10 per square foot.

Faux Painting Marble

Faux marble painting or marbleizing is when a wall is decoratively painted and glazed to look like marble. This usually involves an initial base coat of paint and several layers of tinted glazes over the top. It is great for feature walls or around fireplaces, and much cheaper than real marble, ranging from $6 to $12 per square foot.

Faux Granite Finish

Granite is a beautiful and popular stone with interior designers and decorators because of its distinctive patterns and forms. There are also ways to give a wall or other surface the look of granite. This 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. It takes time but not cost, ranging from $6 to $12 per square foot.

Faux Brick Finish

If you have an industrial-style home, an urban theme, or like the look of bricks, you can also opt to have a decorative brick wall in one or more of your rooms. The technique for this varies depending 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 either before or after making the bricks themselves. Give the bricks rounded edges and chips to make them look real and worn if desired. The level of detail on this kind of wall varies greatly, along with the price, which ranges from $6 to $12 per square foot.

Crackle Faux Painting

Crackle painting or crackling is a useful technique for giving walls or other surfaces a worn and weathered look. It involves the use of differently colored paints, a special crackle medium, and some varnish. It can be useful in rustic or country-style homes, and it costs between $6 and $12 per square foot.

Whitewashing Cost

Whitewashing, also sometimes known as lime washing, produces a kind of chalky finish on the walls and has been popular for hundreds of years. It is a great fit for rustic homes or those wanting a unique, striking feature wall. A couple of different methods can be used for whitewashing, and the price ranges from $6 to $15 per square foot.

Metallic Faux Finishes

It is also possible to make your walls take on a metal-like hue or replicate the appearance of real metal. This can be a great look for industrial-style homes and works well in a range of different rooms. Like other techniques, it involves the use of paints and glazes to create the effect. You can also opt for different colors, metals, and levels of detail. The price varies according to the type of metal you want, ranging from $6 to $15 per square foot.

Strie Painting

Strie is French word translated to ribbed or striped. For a strie faux finish, a mixture of paint and glaze is applied to the wall. 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. For this kind of finish, expect to pay between $8 and $12 per square foot.

Wood Graining

Wood graining is one of the oldest faux painting techniques, being used to make simple walls take on the appearance of wood. It can be used on doors and pieces of furniture and walls and requires specialized experience to achieve the most realistic and impressive effects. For this reason, it can be expensive, costing between $8 and $12 per square foot.

Verdigris Finish

The term verdigris derives from a Middle English word, vertegrez, which derives from Old French and could originally be translated as ‘green of Greece’ because it officially refers to a green pigment used in Greek art. The term also refers to the natural patina that forms when certain metals like copper are exposed to the air. A famous example is the green hue of the Statue of Liberty. Today, techniques can replicate the look of aged copper. This 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. This usually costs between $8 to $15 per square foot.


Stenciling is one of the most popular decorative painting techniques. It is not too difficult, but it takes time and effort, and the slightest mistake can be problematic, so it is often best left to the professionals. It involves using borders and stencils to create intricate painted patterns around a room, and there are several options for the designs you choose. There are many pre-made stencils, or you can even draw your own designs and have them turned into stencils professionally. Costs for this usually range between $10 and $15 per square foot.

Cost of Venetian Plaster

Venetian plaster, also known as lime plaster, is one of the more advanced faux finishing techniques. Instead of applying paint and glaze to the walls, this technique involves the use of a kind of putty, made by blending fired limestone 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. Venetian plaster has been used since the days of the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians, and it creates a durable, long-lasting, stylishly textured finish, costing between $10 and $25 per square foot.​

Faux Painter Hourly Rate

In most cases, faux finishing and painting experts charge per square foot, rather than by the hour because the costs and level of labor vary greatly, depending on which type of 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 go up to $150 and higher for the more advanced techniques and more specialized painters.

Faux Brick Accent Bedroom Wall

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Enhancements and Improvement Costs

Painting Ceilings and Trims

Other surfaces around the room can be decoratively painted, including ceilings and trims. Adding some 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 to take on the appearance of different woods and materials too. Costs for painting the ceiling can sometimes be slightly higher than those for walls because the job can be more difficult, ranging from $2 to $30 per square foot, depending on the type of painting or finishing required. For trim, expect to pay between $2 to $10 per linear foot.

Additional Costs and Considerations

  • Faux finishing can create a great range of images and optical illusions that appear 3D, despite being flat. However, if you want a truly 3D feel on your walls, there are textured paints containing solid materials, such as silica, that can make walls look like leather, suede, stone, and more. There are many different options, so it is wise to research and consider paint possibilities before deciding.
  • Speak with your contractor before they arrive to see whether they want you to move furniture and drapes out of the way, or if they can take care of it themselves. This varies from painter to painter and company to company. Some offer to move furniture out as part of their fee, while others expect you to do this for them.
  • Faux painters charge extra if the wall needs to be primed and prepared for painting.
  • If a faux painter has to work above regular ladder height, the costs also increase because it is riskier and takes longer.
  • Painting on drywall can be easier for certain faux painting techniques. If you have plaster walls, you may have to pay more.
  • The type of texture you choose can have a big impact on the ultimate cost of faux painting. Some textures take more work, more coats, and more time to apply, while others can be done relatively quickly.
  • Faux painters usually charge less if they can use stencils for intricate patterns or designs, rather than having to create them freehand.


  • How much does Venetian plaster cost?

Venetian plaster is typically charged at $10 to $25 per square foot, but costs can be higher with certain companies.

  • Is faux painting still in style?

Faux painting and finishing are popular and commonly used by leading interior designers and decorators around the globe.

  • Can you paint over faux paint?

This is possible, but it depends on the type of faux finishing used. Depending on the texture, you may need to sand the walls and clean and prime them before painting.

  • Is there a paint that looks like marble?

No, but several paints and glazes can be combined to create a marble look in a technique called marbleizing.

Cost to paint walls with decorative finish varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

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