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Wall Finishes

This month's article, Wall finishes, will look at commonly used methods on wall finishes. We will also speak briefly on applications that are used in Europe as well as other parts of the Americas.

First up will be painting. Painting is one of the easiest and least expensive way to change a dull, boring room into a bright, clean room. Painting the room is the smallest part of the job. Preparation of the room will be the biggest one. If possible start with an empty room or try to remove as many obstacles as possible. Cover all surfaces that will not be painted. Finally put down a few thick sections of newspapers, or a heavy duty drop cloth to protect the floor. As far as the equipment to use, your local point store will be able to help you. For a decorative look, there are available to you different painting techniques to give your walls a special look.

Sponging - This technique will create a soft-focus color or intense color contrast on your walls. Sponging should always have a soft and delicate look. Keep the glaze on the sponge to a minimum. There are usually three types of sponging patterns separate, non-touching image, overlapping images and total overall pattern sponging. By several glaze coat colors you can achieve a more subtle pattern. Check with your local paint store to get more information on this technique.

Rag Rolling - with this technique, your base coat will be latex flat enamel. Next, you will apply a colored glaze coat with a brush or roller. While the glaze is wet, take a soft clean rag and bunch it in a loose, long roll. Apply pressure while gently rolling the rag across the wall of the wet glaze. Start from the bottom and work up. The more pressure you apply the more glaze you will remove. Heavier pressure gives a light, airy look while less pressure will give you a darker design. For special effects try rag rolling with different fabrics like cheesecloth, lace, linen, open weave drapery, and burlap.

Stenciling - Stencil designs should be simple. Keep your colors to a minimum for best pattern results. Accurately measure and align your patterns with a straightedge and chalk. Attach your stencil to the wall with masking tape so it does not shift when stenciling. Choose either a regular, repeating pattern or a whimsical, random design for your walls.

Combing - Combing is one of the most versatile of the decorating techniques. The patterns used range from stripes to sophisticated compositions like traditional woodgrains and country-chic basket weaves. Combing provides an unlimited palette of easy to achieve design possibilities. Tips on combing:

  • Practice your technique before beginning or a specific wall.
  • Walls should be painted prior to combing accent wall.
  • Patterns include waves, swirls, circles, zigzags, checkerboards, and more. Experiment and have fun.
  • Dry the glaze sufficiently before applying the varnish for protection. Glazing should be kept to a minimum; wipe excess glaze from the comb to avoid buildup.

Woodgraining - This technique is used primarily to mirror dominant woodgrain pieces in your room settings. It requires that the ground color or background color be similar to the actual color of the desired wood. Then you must select your graining color. This is the color for the tinted glaze that will actually make the grain patterns. It should be a contrasting color to the background color. As a rule of thumb, you should keep your ground color several tones lighter than the graining color. Check with your local paint store for tool requirements and woodgraining techniques.

Texturing - Texturing walls does not require any high-tech equipment. A variety of patterns can be created by dragging a brush, comb or even a wet sponge through sand-textured surfaces. Freeform, natural hand motions are imperfect, but uniform enough to create an overall pattern. The simplest way to achieve a textured look today is the use of textured paint. This is just a latex paint, thicker than usual, with texturing added. This is the most common method used today. The most important thing is to choose a texture finish that is appropriate for your application. Manufacturers supply directions on different mixing procedures. Be careful as to follow their specific guidelines when mixing for proper performance textured paint finishes can be applied with a spray. Besides spraying, you can brush, roll or sponge. Using a roller gives the wall a stippled look. Vary the stippling by changing the roller-nap; longer nap makes the peaks higher and further apart. Stucco brushes can be used to create swirl patterns. The variations are only limited by your imagination.

Next, we will look at wallcoverings. Wallcoverings are a great alternative for decorating and enhancing the walls of you home or office. Wall covering patterns can be inspired by nature, crafted to pose as paper, stone, ceramic, metal, wood, mirror, metallic, and marble. Wallcovering can come vinyl backed, pre-pasted, scrubable or paperbacked. Careful planning and measuring is the key to a successful wall covering job. Wallcoverings can be used to create the most sophisticates of looks, or used to create the most simple looks. There are many way to enhance a room using wall coverings Most residential homeowners shy away from wallcoverings. What homeowners don't know is that wallcoverings are a blessing in the commercial hospitality, corporate, and institution workplace. Why? Once installed properly it requires very minimal maintenance.

I will now introduce other finishes used on walls. These will be brief but informative introductions.

Glazed Wall Tile - This is an application we see typically in American bathrooms and kitchens. Not anymore! Today, colorful and sophisticated wall tiles from leading tile manufacturers are being seen in non-traditional uses due to their environmental friendly characteristics. They come in a rainbow of solid or marbleized colors and are often coordinated with decorative tiles, wide and narrow borders and pencil-like listens. These decorative tiles may be simply designed or elaborately patterned with metallic highlights and granulated reliefs. Sizes also vary widely, from small 4"x4" rustic tiles to the elegant large 24"x24" format tiles pioneered by Spain.

Porcelain Tile - Today, Spanish manufacturers produce porcelain wall tile in both matte and polished finishes in a rainbow of jewel-like shade as well as traditional granite-toned colorations. The product also lends its well to large format sizing and is currently being used more and more frequently by architects and designers for residential purposes. Other wall finishes used today to treat entire walls are marble, wood beams, solid surfacing materials and concrete.

Today's application of wall finishes are limited only by one's imagination!

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