Tuscan Plaster

This finish is perfect when you want a Mediterranean feel, and provides the illlusion of texture on a flat wall.

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Wall color was a concern for a room with a Tuscan countryside mural. I decided on a plaster-style faux finish. I had helped friends research and try various faux techniques in their homes, so I was ready. We wanted an actual textured, Venetian plaster finish, but there was a concern about having to sand down the whole room if we ever decided to change it (it IS a big room). We compromised on a finish that looked three dimensional but was actually a four-color flat finish. The existing paint on the walls was a flat, neutral paint, what I like to call ”Builder Beige” –most new houses start out with this inexpensive paint on the walls. It’s not very exciting, but it does make a great primer-type coating, so I just needed to clean it and paint on my base color. This goes very fast, as it doesn’t really matter if there are some missed spots or streaks, it will never show. Whenever possible, I use a paintstick to do base coats, and that makes it incredibly quick and easy. First, tape off the woodwork and ceiling with blue painter’s tape. The taping is a really important step, and is the first place where professional work looks different from do-it-yourself. Believe me, I know the temptation to just begin painting is huge, but you MUST do the taping. It will save you so much work in the end, and give you much cleaner and crisper results. Do not start taping uClose up of Plaster Finishntil your hands are very clean- you will just rub smudges into your ceiling, and they will never wash out. Also make sure the tape is really stuck securely all over, so no paint can seep under it and spoil your hard work. Also, it doesn't pay to skimp and use the cheap tape for this- it won't stick well, and will just waste your time. I used a dark terracotta orange, in a water-based, low luster eggshell finish, rolled on the wall with a cheap short-nap roller. A cheap one works fine for this, and you can just throw it away instead of wasting gallons of water to clean it. You do have to use a paint with some sheen to it for this step, because the top coat has to be able to slide around easily, and a flat base coat will just absorb the top paint. This undercoat has to dry for at least eight hours.

I chose three more colors for the top finish, a light gold, a medium gold, and an off-white, also in the eggshell finish. Note that none of these paints needs to be a superior quality, since high-end paints are intended to give a smooth and perfect finish, while this finish will be purposely flawed and uneven. Use a medium grade paint and save your money for furniture and accessories. Each of these colors was applied to the wall in random X patterns, varying the amounts, and using the medium gold most heavily. Again, use fairly cheap brushes for this step, as the smooth finish is not necessary. Just make sure the bristles don’t come out on your wall! Work in an area about 3-4 feet square. While the paint is still very wet, use a slightly damp terrycloth rag to scrub the colors together, covering most of the terracotta undercoat, and blending the top colors so that there are no sharp edges to any brush spot. Overlap your sections by a few inches, and make them irregular in shape. Deliberately leave a few spots here and there without the top colors. I like to leave more of these spots lower on the wall, to create the illusion that the top paint has been worn away by years of people leaning and brushing against it. Be prepared to practice a bit, remembering that you can cover anything you don’t like with the undercoat color, and start it over again. Paint is so friendly and flexible that way… 

When this faux finish is complete, it will NOT require a protective coating, as the low-luster eggshell paints should be washable.