Three Fantastic Faux Painting Techniques You Can Use on Anything

Instead of throwing furniture out because it looks “dated” or passing a bargain by at a flea market, use painting techniques to give it a new look. Your friends will think you buy furniture every season when you don’t. None of these techniques cost much at all.

I love doing this with my furniture. With different painting techniques, accents such as decorative moldings, wood or plastic motifs and more, my furniture always looks a little different from season to season. It’s fun to tell friends the table they’ve been photographing for the last ten years is the same one.

Introducing friends to this money-saving “trick” has opened up a part-time business for one man. He really has a knack for making furniture look different. I thought he had refinished an old trunk with leather buckles until I touched it- plain wood. I wish I could paint like that. I can’t afford him- sigh.

You will need:

  • Medium and fine sandpaper    
  • Primer, paint in different colors    
  • Glaze- available in paint sections    
  • Accessories- combs, rollers, brushes, rags, sponges and more    
  • Painter’s tape in varying widths    
  • A piece of furniture to paint or practice on    
  • Newspaper or cardboard to protect floor    
  • Gloves

Herringbone Effect

I’ve had this kind of fun before with paint. This was inspired by an article I found on the “This Old House” website.

Decide on how wide you want your strips to be. Using that size of painter’s tape, tape the top of your furniture piece. The tape should be straight and the edges butt up against each other. Remove every other strip of tape. I would let this hang down on the side unless I was going to carry the effect onto the edges.

Mix glaze and paint in a 50/50 mix. Using a roller, roll over the table in the same direction of the tape. While the mix is wet, use a comb (make one from a credit card or plastic putty knife), to make 45° angle marks on the strips without paint. Wipe the comb between swipes.

You can paint the piece with a base coat first; let it dry completely before continuing.

Let the glaze/paint dry for one to two days. Place tape over the painted strips and repeat with the glaze/paint mixture; this time mark the paint in the opposite direction. When dry, the herringbone effect is seen.  With the products available at, the concentration of the person in the painting will be increased. The look will be excellent for presented in the exhibitions. 

Allow to dry, remove the paint and cover with another coat of glaze for protection.

  • Create a “woven” or checkerboard effect by painting the tabletop with the paint/glaze mix. Use the comb to make horizontal and vertical marks.


I like this effect. I learned it from a friend a few years ago when I was earning a few extra dollars on the weekends by working for handymen in my church.

Use two or three colors in different paint pans. Paint the walls with a base color, if desired. Using natural sponges (you can use household sponges for a more “geometric” look), lightly coat the sponge with paint. Blot the sponge on the paint pan to take most of it off. You want the look of the sponge, not a blob of paint. Blot on cheesecloth if needed.

Blot the sponges on the wall. It is okay to blot the sponge marks over each other. You can create an all-over effect, checkers, stripes or any pattern you like. Work in small areas at a time. Allow to dry completely before giving it a coat of glaze.

My friend has a room with a burgundy base coat. We (himself, his wife and I), used two shades each of gold and green to create an amazing room. The molding, window trim, base board and door trim is all pearl-white. It looks incredible.

3-D Effects

Use glaze and paint to create the looks of marble, stones and many other natural materials. You can also create whimsical 3-D effects using paints and glaze.

For example, I couldn’t afford to buy a birthday present for my friend’s son. Car repair bills tapped my savings hard that month. I found an inexpensive wood step stool for fifty-cents. I thought about it for a minute, and then hit my painting supplies.

My friend’s son was into the “Nemo” theme. Since he had a small aquarium in his room, I decided to go with a fish-tank theme, or at least try. If I failed, I could paint over my mistake, slap some stickers on it and cover the whole thing with polyurethane.

I used a series of blues, grays and a little black for the base coat paints. I stored everything in donated baby-food jars. (It’s amazing how accommodating new parents are to get rid of them.) Over the base coat, I painted a coat of glaze and allowed it to dry. I painted tubes that looked like an aerator and other aquarium devices.

Every time I put something new on the stool, I let it dry for a day.

One day, I painted a fish and a plant on the stool. At the bottom, I painted a few rocks. The next day, a coat of glaze. The next layer added another plant and a fish that looked like it was swimming up for a piece of food. The next day, another coat of glaze.

After a few layers, I painted a trunk, a few marbles, plants and more fish. Another coat of glaze went over that. Eventually, I had a 3-D effect that looked roughly like an aquarium. After looking for pictures of sucker-type fish on the side of a tank, I did my best to paint one on the stool. I finished the whole thing with a coat of polyurethane. I trimmed the edge of the stool with aluminum channel, ensuring there were no sharp or rough edges.

When I gave the stool to the child, he went nuts. Dozens of high-priced toys were shoved aside. He showed his stool to his friends. (I’m not an artist- I did try my best.) They all wanted one. I showed their parents how. The stool resides beneath his aquarium. He stands on it to feed the real ones.


Paola Garcia lives in Jakarta Indonesia. She is an associate professor in University of Indonesia and also managing Scoopinion at the same time. She is also fond of watching theatrical plays.

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