What Is Faux Painting?

Couple viewing paint swatches

Getty Images / Caiaimage / Paul Bradbury

Faux painting became popular in classical times, where Artist would apprentice for 10 years or more with a master faux painter to get recognition and awarded for tricking viewers into believing their work was real. Faux painting remains popular throughout time experiencing reappearances in the neoclassical revival of the nineteenth century and the Art Deco style of the 1920s, mainly used in commercial and public spaces.

What Is Faux Painting?

Faux painting or faux finish is a term used to describe a wide range of decorative paint techniques. The word “faux” is a French word that means fake, since this painting technique is to replicate the appearance of marble or wood, which eventually began to encompass all decorative paint techniques done on furniture or walls.

In Classical Times, Faux Painting Became Popular

The most recent comeback of faux painting was during the late 1980s and early 1990s when wallpaper began to lose its popularity. At this time, faux painting began to emerge in homes, with high-end homes leading the trend. Many painters and artist began faux painting services and businesses during this time but most of these painting techniques are simple enough for homeowners to create themselves.

Fun Fact

What we generally think of as faux painting in interior design and decorating began in Mesopotamia over 5000 years ago with plaster and stucco finishes.

Modern Day Faux Painting

In modern-day faux painting, there are two major types of techniques used. A glaze painting technique that requires the use of a translucent mixture of paint and glazes applied with a brush, roller, rag, or sponge, and often mimics textures, but it’s normally smooth to the touch. Plaster application is the other technique used in faux painting that can be done with tinted plasters, or washed over with earth pigments, and is generally applied with a trowel or spatula. The final product can be flat to the touch or textured.

Types of faux decorative paint techniques include:

  • Color washing
  • Rag rolling
  • Strie
  • Linen weave
  • Mottling, Old World color washing, or tea stained
  • Venetian plaster or other plaster effects
  • Metals and patinas
  • Crackle or weathered effect


Also known as: fake, false, imitation, simulated, artificial, bogus, dummy, ersatz, factitious, imitative, man-made, mimic, mock, pretend, sham, substitute, synthetic

Common misspellings: fuax