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Decorative Wall Painting and Finishing Tips

Updated on October 8, 2018
viryabo profile image

Working as a professional interior designer for many decades, I've been involved in design-and-build residential building projects.

Interior wall painting is something many of us can do by ourselves but time constraints, impatience, or being unsure of doing a great job of it draws most back from implementing the task.

Painting a wall may be simple but being able to introduce special painting methods is a bit more challenging. But we all know that going the extra mile by adding a special effect that gets your visitor’s attention is what we’d love more.

Wall painting techniques add style to your interior space. Not only that. Special effects also add a pleasing aesthetic, dimension and texture, especially if introduced as a feature wall in, say, your living room, foyer, or bedroom.

If you are in doubt about determining what type of decorative painting works best for your interior space, some of the technique I mention here may get you thinking and bring out your ‘creative juices). They will also teach you some techniques you can apply to paint more than just walls.

The beauty of creative wall painting and decorating
The beauty of creative wall painting and decorating

House painters, interior designers and interior decorators will tell you about the effective and tasteful use of colours and how a painted room may end up motivating and mood enhancing, or depressive and uninspiring. That’s because they have technical knowledge of the procedures and methods of getting the desired results. This is an essential aspect of their tools.

But it’s not hard to decide on what works best for you and you don’t always require professionals to tell you what you like or what you should have.

Creative Painting Techniques for Interior Walls

Painting walls and ceilings are fairly simple tasks for many, particularly DIY buffs and homeowners, however, painting in its higher form approaches the boundaries of art, something referred to as creative painting and most of us feel we can’t achieve it.

But we can.

In this article, you will learn the language of the special effects painter and interior decorator for free. You will find out about some wall finishes and effects that you can do that’ll translate into a great work of interior art.

For starters, the wall’s existing condition will determine the preparations required before any special paint effect can be done.

So, if your walls are fresh (never painted), has been painted over many times, or is wallpapered, how you apply may differ. You may also have to do prep work that can be either minor or extensive.

Your choice of colour or colour combinations should complement the room and the colour of the ceiling. You can either have a subtle match or a total contrast. That all depends on your taste or the look you desire. Go with your gut feeling and remember there is no hard and fast rule that must apply.

In this article, I will be talking about the following wall finish techniques and how to make them easy DIY tasks to transform your room:

  1. Antiquing
  2. Wall stamping
  3. Metal leaf (gilding)
  4. Marbling

Wall Antiquing

With this paint technique, you can add a touch of the past into your room. Antiquing is also great if you want an eclectic style room, where you can blend the old, the new, and others in between. It is more effective if you do antiquing on a focal wall to create a special wall effect.

Antiquing is quite easy to do, but there are numerous variations of this painting effect with many of such finishes having elaborate themes.

Old walls can have many looks. They can be streaky, heavily mottled, softly mottled, chipped or textured.

The easy way of application is to paint a film of colour over a light neutral coloured wall. The paint’s consistency must be thin (consistency of water). You can add a mixture of oil, turpentine and a bit of pigmentation to get the desired consistency.

Pigmentations great for antiquing can be obtained from brown palettes like:

  • Raw Umber -a dark greenish brown earth colour that has great tinting effects. When loosely mixed with white paint, you will get distinctly clear tints
  • Burnt Umber - a darker colour (than raw umber) with bluish tints

Most DIY painters use Umber, more than any other colour because it results in a much more effective finish and if mixed properly, it will give a satisfactory illusion of age.

However, apart from umber tones, there are other pigments you can use. It all depends on the overall look you intend to create in the room.

Another way you can antique a wall is to apply a smooth glaze with a large brush and with a coarse brush or spray gun, stipple (a process of applying paint, ink, or pigments) areas on your first coat of paint.

What You Need

For wall antiquing, you will need two or three shades of water-based flat finish wall paint (1 gallon covers 400 to 500 square feet). They must be a few shades away from each other because though you want some variation, you don’t want too much. If you want something more mottled, choose colours that are further apart on the paint chip.

You will also need the following tools:

  • Paint rollers (extendable rollers for tall walls)
  • Paintbrushes for water-based paint
  • Paint trays
  • Large sea sponge
  • Rubber gloves
  • Drop cloths or old sheets
  • Painter's tape

Protect the surrounding floor (and a bit beyond) with drop cloths or your old. Practice the antique faux-finish procedure on a piece of drywall or board before proceeding.


Use painter’s tape (or masking tape) to protect baseboards, trims, mouldings and electrical outlets on the wall.

Apply the lightest of your wall colours first with a roller. It doesn’t have to be a perfect application.

Use paint brushes for the edges and the smaller areas. Use an angled bristle brush for the corners.

Allow to dry.

With the next shade, paint vertical strokes down the wall in an uneven way using a coarser brush or sponge. The darkest of the shades can be applied by dabbing splotches of the paint with the sea sponge to dab. Dabbing must be irregular and appear imperfect.

Allow to dry.

(Lightly apply these up-and-down strokes but if you prefer a more weathered look, repeat the technique in a left-to-right motion).


  • To allow more of the first coat to show through, add some glazing. Glazing each coat before applying the next will make your layers appear a bit transparent and help build up layers of colour while allowing you to still see glimpses of the coats beneath.
  • Go with the flow. There is no perfect way of doing this. The best thing to do is choose the right colour shades and keep them on the light side if this is your first try.
  • Ensure you use a large sea sponge for paint dabbing.

Wall Stamping

Wall stamping painting technique is a great alternative to wallpaper. It not only looks stylish depending on the characters of the stamps you use, it is also easy to do and will steal the show in your interior space.

An easy to do task particularly if you are a DIY enthusiast, this wall painting technique, when put together with a variety of matching, complementary, or contrasting colours and textures, and applying the right tricks, will help you create any look you desire – modern, abstract, or traditional.

All materials and tools you need to carry out this DIY project are made from all materials you can find at all local crafts stores.

What You Need

  • Coordinating acrylic paint
  • Clear acrylic glaze
  • 3/8 inch thick crafts foam (8” x 10”)
  • Straightedge
  • Plastic plates
  • Sponge brushes
  • Pair of scissors (or utility knife)
  • Level
  • Latex gloves
  • Paper towels

The number of colours you’ll use will determine how many plastic plates and crafts foam pieces you’ll require so if you plan to use four different colours, you’ll require four of each.


Sketch identical shapes on the crafts foam using a pen and straightedge. You can create your own shape or use pattern templates you can buy, to make them. You will find that simple repeatable shapes like squares, diamonds, circles and hexagons are easier to use.

Carefully cut out your shapes with a pair of scissors or with a utility knife.

If your intent is to create a grid design, lightly draw your grid lines on the wall with a pencil, using a level and straight grid.

On each plate, pour about 3 tablespoons of paint (one colour per plate and add a tablespoon of mixing glaze to each. Mix the paint and glaze thoroughly with the sponge brushes

Place crafts sponges, each on a piece of paper towel. With a moistened sponge brush (with water), dip it in the paint/glaze mix and brush mixture on one side of your cut-out shape while ensuring you brush all strokes in the same direction.

If there is excess paint on the foam pieces, wipe it off with a wet paper towel. Pick each one up, one at a time in the sequence of your choice, then turn it over and press the shape onto the wall making sure all parts of the shape is in contact with the wall’s surface.

Continue designing your pattern using the other paint applied crafts foam. Make sure your edges overlap slightly because you don’t want gaps in your stamps. Load each shape with a different colour and continue wall stamping and layering your shapes until you’ve achieved your design.


  • If you're concerned about keeping your design on a grid, use a level, straightedge, and pencil to draw a few light guidelines on the wall every 12-18 inches.
  • Use a piece of poster board to test your pattern out before proceeding with the application on the wall.
  • You can get more creative by using different shapes placed haphazardly on the wall to achieve an absolutely wonderful abstract theme.

Metal Leaf (Gilding)

Also referred to as gilding, metal leaf wall finishing is achieved by applying thin sheets of gold (or silver, copper, bronze, aluminium) leaf to a wall surface or panels, resulting in a luminous and stunning effect.

A wall will need no further ornamentation or wall art if finished with metal leafing.

The look of gilding is unparalleled. It is regal, elegant, and will make an interior space look expensively done. So, if you are looking for one of the highest wall finishes or if your design calls for the highest level of polish, a metal leaf finish is the ultimate decor.

With its high-end look, this opulent and rich wall application will be perfect as an accent wall in your living room or bedroom. When viewed in candlelight, it is absolutely breath-taking!

And best of all, it’s not that hard to apply and not much more difficult than wallpapering. But because gold leaf is more delicate than other wall coverings, it is a painstaking but fun task.

What You Need

  • Dish washing liquid and sponge
  • Tack cloths
  • Shop cloths
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Drywall filler
  • Craft sticks
  • Painter’s tape
  • Water-based primer
  • Extendable roller
  • Short nap roller
  • Squirrel mop gilding brush
  • Eggshell latex paint
  • Gold leaf adhesive
  • Water-based varnish

Wash down the walls you intend to apply metal leaf to with dish washing liquid and water solution then wipe the wall down with shop cloths and leave to dry completely.

Sand off uneven areas, old paint bumps or other uneven surfaces. Wipe down the sanded spots with a tack cloth.

Fill existing cracks with drywall filler until it is filled and level with the wall surface. When the filler is completely dry, sand it smooth. Wipe off the resultant dust with a tack cloth.


Use the painter’s tape to tape off the ceiling edge, mouldings and trims, and the baseboards.

Prime the wall with two coats of water-based primer and allow to dry for at least four hours between coats.

If you live in a damp or rainy area, allow at least six hours drying time for the water-based primer (as well as between coats).

Apply the first coat of the eggshell latex paint. Allow it to dry completely then apply the second coat and leave it to dry overnight.

The following day, start the metal leaf application from one end of the wall at the ceiling line.

(Before you commence, it is good to mention that you can use either metal leaf adhesive or a water-based adhesive. If you can work very adeptly and fast while applying this wall finish, you can use the gold leaf adhesive. However, if you are a painstaking DIY enthusiast who likes to take his/her time, use the water-based adhesive).

If you plan to use gold-leaf adhesive, begin at one end of the room and roll the adhesive (in a long strip) from the ceiling to the baseboard.

Starting from the ceiling line, press a strip of gold leaf onto the wall. Go over the paper backing with a squirrel mop gilding brush. This will press out any air bubbles and make sure the metal leaf adheres properly.

Peel off the paper backing and brushing the gold leaf gently with the mop brush to make it stick to the wall. Continue this process until you have gilded the entire wall, one strip at a time.

As a final finish, apply the water-based varnish to the metal leaf with a short-napped roller to seal and protect it.

Leave the varnish to dry overnight.


  • Varnish your metal leaf wall to give it a long lasting protection.
  • Gold leaf is much more delicate than wallpaper so it adheres best when your wall is clean, cracks-free, and flawless.
  • Water-based adhesive is easier to work with and allows you to take your time applying the gold leaf.
  • Do not apply metal leaf in an unventilated room

Marbling - Faux Marble Wall Painting Technique

Real marble is an expensive material used throughout the ages to show great wealth and taste of the elite and with a marbling painting technique, you get to add this tasteful, classic style into your home at a fraction of the cost.

Marbling is one of the more popular wall painting techniques you’ll find out there today. It is economical, quite affordable, and appears like a high-end wall finish, just like the real thing.

Though it is faux marble finish, it still adds dimension, texture and style to any interior space without the heaviness and price tag of authentic marble materials. It will transform your room into a rich, sophisticated and elegant space

The beauty of faux marble paint is that you can create the look of any marble variety you like. You can even tweak this painting technique to come up with your own unique marble colours. The possibilities are boundless.

The simplest to recreate with paint is the basic white marble with grey and black veins.

What You Need

  • 3/8-inch paint rollers
  • Roller trays
  • Sea sponge
  • Feather (large)
  • Polyacrylic gloss topcoat
  • Foam plate
  • Shop cloths
  • Light colour latex paint
  • Darker colour latex paint
  • Satin topcoat
  • Painter's tape
  • Paint stir stick
  • Tarpaulin
  • Joint compound
  • Putty knife
  • Hand sander
  • Sandpaper (fine grit)

You’ll need two colours for the faux marble wall finish technique, a light and a dark shade of paint. Depending on the look you desire, the darker colour is for the wall base coat while the lighter hue represents the veins. For a more subtle look, use colours that are a two or three shades apart on the same colour strip. For something more dramatic, choose hues from different colour strips.


Spread old sheets or tarpaulin to protect the floor from spills and dripping paint. Tape mouldings, trims, windowsills and baseboard to protect them from paint.

Repair cracks and/or wall holes with joint compound filler. When dry, sand well until they are flush with the wall surface.

Apply the base-coat with the 3/8-inch paint roller then allow it to dry. Apply the second coat of paint to create a smooth base for the marbling. Allow it to dry.

To apply the marble veins, dip a large feather into the second colour and run it along the surface of the wall in a random fashion and draw vein-like markings. Repeat the process until the wall is full of vein streaks.

Mix equal parts of the base coat and a polyacrylic gloss and pour into a foam plate. Dip the damp sea sponge into the mixture and then dab it on the vein mark until all are lightly covered. Allow this to dry for ten minutes.

To blend the finish, roll a dry cloth into a ball and lightly blot the entire faux marbled wall until all the colours intermingling. Allow a drying time of one hour.

You can apply additional vein streaks to the wall if you desire. If you do, let the paint dry for an additional two hours.

Finally, use the roller to apply the gloss topcoat of polyacrylic satin on the wall using long vertical strokes then allow it to dry for two hours.

When the paint is dry, use a hand sander with fine-grit sandpaper to buff the wall and sand with gentle, circular motions to reduce streaking. Wipe the wall clean of sanding residue and repeat the process two more times (a total of three coats).

Allow to dry completely for about three hours.

When the wall is dry, use a hand sander and fine-grit sandpaper to buff the final topcoat of polyacrylic satin finish.

Wipe off sanding residue from the wall with a soft cloth.


  • To first master the faux marble painting technique, practice on a sample foam board before applying it to the wall.
  • Use the darker paint colour as a base coat for subtle vein markings and a soft final appearance.
  • Use the lighter paint colour as a base coat for more dramatic vein streaks and a more defined vein finish.
  • When sanding, wear a sanding mask to prevent inhalation of fine particles.

© 2010 viryabo


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    Post Comment

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thanks for your nice comments and your visit twogroce.

      Glad you find 'painters and decorators' informative.


    • twogroce profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice Hub! Many great ideas, I am bookmarking this one.

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hello Relica, i'm glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for the visit, and for finding the time to leave a nice comment.


    • relica profile image


      8 years ago from California

      Love the video on faux marbeling techniques. Nice hub.

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hi Papernotes, i'm so glad you find it helpful. And thanks for the visit.

      Goodluck with your future painting and decorating works.


    • PaperNotes profile image


      8 years ago

      Great hub! Many thanks for the detail tips and your videos are very helpful. This is so useful for the next time I need to repaint my home.


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