A Guide to Decorative Faux Painting Tools A Guide to Decorative Faux Painting Tools

Most decorative paint techniques are easily achieved with simple tools, while others require specialized items. If you are new to decorative painting, making sense of all the different items available can be tricky. Here are some of the more commonly used items in decorative painting.

Artist's brushes are small brushes (up to one-inch wide) that come in a variety of shapes. They are used for small detail work such as veining and corners.

Cellulose sponges are ordinary synthetic sponges that are used for cleaning. They are not generally used for sponging or other decorative faux painting techniques because of their regular shape and small pores. However, they are used when creating the look of faux brick.

Chamois rags are leather rags made from wild goats. They absorb less paint than other types of rags and will create a more textured or mottled surface. Chamois is also more expensive than other rags. They are also available on rollers and mitts, both of which can greatly speed things up.

Check rollers are small rollers that are made up of several dozen notched metal disks. When rolled over wet glaze, they give it a slightly checked or faded look. It is used in a variety of different techniques including faux denim and some faux wood grains. Cheesecloth has a fine, mesh-like texture that creates a small, speckled pattern. It absorbs more medium than cotton and chamois will. Cheesecloth can also be used to spread paint or glaze over a surface and to soften brush strokes.

China bristle brushes are also called hog bristle brushes, lily bristled brushes, or Chungking bristle brushes. The bristles are unique because naturally curve and have a v-shaped split at the tip. They also have a naturally resistance to fraying. China bristle brushes are better able to control oil and thicker paints. When compared to other types of brushes, China bristle brushes will produce a smoother and more even finish. They come in both black and white. Black China bristle brushes are stronger and thicker, which makes them good for oil-based paints and epoxies. White China bristle brushes are softer and thinner, which makes them good for stains, varnishes, polyurethanes, and any clear coatings.

Chip brushes look like short-bristled paintbrushes. They have soft bristles and are very inexpensive. Chip brushes are multi-use tools that can be used to apply base coats or glazes. They can also be used in pouncing, stippling, strié, dry brush, and other techniques.

Color washing brushes, or block brushes, are generally wide and thick brushes with soft, natural bristles. They will produce fewer visible brushstrokes than other water-based paintbrushes.

Combs are used to produce lines and stripes in wet glaze. They are usually metal or rubber and are available with different tooth sizes Cotton rags are the most popular choice for ragging. They can be purchased or created by cutting up an old t-shirt, provided that it is lint free. Cotton is the material that is usually found on rag rollers and ragging mitts. Because they absorb paint well, they are also handy when it comes time to clean up.

Dragging brushes are also known as flogging brushes and graining brushes. Sometimes they are referred to as called dragger or flogger brushes. They are made up of extra-long, natural bristles and can be used with almost any type of paint or stain.

Turkey or goose feathers are mainly used to create fine veins in faux marbling. They are also called quill feathers and veining feathers.

Fitches are natural bristle brushes with long, slim handles. They come in a variety of shapes and are often used for freehand painting. They are also used in some faux marbling techniques.

Hake brushes are oriental-style wash brushes. They have long-handles and extremely soft bristles that are often made out of goat hair. They are useful for covering large areas with water or color as well as for absorbing excess media.

Honeycomb rollers are rollers made out of cellulose sponge material. It usually creates a faintly dappled finish.

A mottler is a flat, straight-edged brush that is used for washes, glazes, and varnishing. It is also used to create highlights and details when creating a faux wood effect.

An over-grainer is a brush that is used to create the shaped grain found in hardwoods such as mahogany, maple, and walnut. It is also referred to as a pencil or pipe over-grainer because of the way the bristles are clumped together on the brush.

A pouncer brush, or fitch edge tool, is a smaller type of stippling brush. These are great for smaller spaces such as corners and trim. Any time you need a stippling brush, chances are you will also need a pouncer brush.

Sea sponges are not just used in sponging; many different faux painting techniques use sea sponges. When purchasing a sea sponge, it is best to buy the largest one available. It will be easier to reduce a sponge in size by cutting it then to try to work with one that is too small. Sea sponges are also available on rollers and mitts. While those tools will save time, they can create repetitive pattern over large areas. There are three different types of sea sponges:

Sea wool sponges are usually sold simply as sea sponges. They are the most commonly used sponges in faux painting. They have a wider, more diverse texture than other types of sea sponges.
Grass sea sponges look similar to wool sponges, but are not as durable. They are found in the warm waters of the Gulf and Caribbean.
White silk sponges have smaller, more refined pores than sea wool sponges. The texture of these sponges is better for stippling than sponging.

Sheepskin, or lambs wool, is usually found on a tool called a Woolie, which is the most popular maker of these tools. It is used in a variety of techniques and is essential if you want to create life-like clouds. The material also comes on mitts and rollers.

Softening brushes, or blender brushes, are used to help smooth out visible brushstrokes and blend colors. When made out of badger hair, they are referred to as badger softening brushes. Badger softening brushes are generally more expensive than other types of softening brushes.

Stencil brushes are round, stiff brushes made to pounce paint onto a surface when stenciling.

Stippling brushes, or stippler brushes, look almost like scrub brushes except they have much softer bristles. They are used primarily in stippling and pouncing. A stippling brush can be made out of natural or synthetic materials and are available in small- and large-tufts. Small-tufted stippling brushes will create a more subtle effect than large-tufted stippling brushes.

Strié brushes, or wall weaver brushes, look similar to wallpaper smoothing brushes. They are generally wider than dragging brushes. They are also used to create linen weave, denim, and other decorative fabric effects.

Veining brushes, or veiners, are fine-tipped brushes that are used to create the veins in a faux marble finish. They work the same way as a feather does. Wood graining tools are available in a variety of shapes and materials. One of the more popular is the triangular wood-graining tool. It is basically a comb with has different sized teeth on each side that can be pulled through wet glaze. Rocker wood-graining tools have a handle and a curved face. The face has a wood-grained texture that is can be imprinted onto the glaze by rocking the tool over it.

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