Interior painting can be more art than work

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Rollers and paintbrushes are no longer the only tools to choose from when it comes to giving your walls a new look.

"People are looking for something unique these days," professional painter Sue Zantal of Creative Faux Finishing said. "But these days you might have to look outside the paint department."

That might mean using Saran Wrap to create a tasty look on your dining room wall, or a rag to give a comfortable look to your living room, she said. Sea sponges, feather dusters and cheese cloth also can be used to add texture and warmth to your walls when combined with new techniques such as distressing, color washing or sponging.

There are so many techniques to choose from that it has made defining what the client wants more difficult, Zantal said. She said it's hard to put a name on some of the new creative ways to paint a wall.

"It's all about being creative with colors and textures," Zantal said.

Zantal has been painting in Steamboat Springs for the past three years. She said the trend in painting has been leaning toward some of the more creative approaches that will set a home apart.

Painting a room has been transformed from a chore into an art form for many homeowners.

John Larson, a certified faux consultant for Mountain Paint and Supply Inc., agrees.

"Paint can add depth and is much more interesting than just a plain-colored wall," he said. "We get people coming in all the time who want to try some of these things in their home."

While many of the techniques look easy, he admits they can be very time-consuming and often require practice. A few of them produce better results when done by professionals.

"We recommend that people buy a piece of drywall, texture it to match the surface of their wall and try it out first," Larson said. "If it doesn't look just right they can paint over it and try again."

Zantal said she often gets calls to come finish or fix a job that an overeager homeowner started.

But with a little practice and some patience, Larson thinks that most homeowners can master at least a few of these new styles.

n Sponging. The painter first applies a base coat of paint or glaze. A second coat of glaze in a complementary color is applied next by dipping a sea sponge into a small amount of paint and lightly applying it to the wall in a random pattern over a small manageable area. Once that coat dries, a third color can be applied using the sponge to fill in areas that were missed in the first treatment. Painters can apply as many coats as they want, but more than three will likely result in a muddy appearance, Larson said. He recommends a maximum of three.

A similar technique, called ragging, can also be used. In this method, the painter uses a rag to lightly dab paint on the wall. The rag can be reshaped to produce varied textures. For a different result, a painter can use Saran Wrap or cheese cloth instead of a rag.

n Glazing. Larson said this technique is best for walls with a rough surface. Once again, the painter starts with a base coat and allows it to dry. A second coat of glaze in a complementary color can then be rolled, brushed or sponged over the surface. Just as the glaze begins to dry, it should be lightly wiped away with a clean rag or towel. The second coat of glaze will remain in some of the low-lying areas, giving the wall a unique texture.

n Cloth distressing. This technique can be used on any wall and begins with the application of a base coat. Once again, a glaze coat of a complementary color is applied over the base coat.

Next, the painter uses a rag to randomly sponge away or wipe off the second coat before it dries, so that parts of the base coat shows through.

n Color washing. Start by applying a base coat with either an up-and-down or a side-to-side brush stroke and let it dry. Apply a second coat of a complementary color using brush stokes that are the opposite of the base coat.

Before the second coat dries, lightly pat a sponge across the wall. Then blend the two colors together by lightly stroking a dry brush across the wall.

n Suede paint. This new type of paint leaves the wall with the look and feel of suede. Jamie Hoff, at Sherwin-Williams Co. paint store, said this new paint goes on it two steps. The first is a base coat, which is rolled on. The second coat, which should be brushed onto the wall instead of rolled, has an additive that gives the wall its unique texture.

n Crackling. A layer of a special cracking agent is painted onto the wall over the base coat, then a final coat of complementary color is painted over it. The top coach cracks to reveal the base color underneath.

Both Larson and Hoff said homeowners should pick up a quality paint before trying any of these methods and said the paint can make a big difference in any job.

"The cost of the paint is just a small part of the job," Larson said. "You don't want to low-ball the materials, because when it comes to painting, the real cost is in the labor."

Hoff said that the paint and materials normally represents 15percent to 20 percent of the job's total cost. That percentage is even less if a professional is hired to for one of the newer techniques, he said. "These techniques are very time consuming, so the labor cost goes up," Hoff said.

Larson said that different paints retain their color differently and sometimes the cheaper paint will fade and chip. It also doesn't cover as well.

"It may take two cans of a cheaper paint to cover the same area as more expensive paint," Larson said.

Also, some paints are better suited for specific jobs. Larson suggests using a tinted glaze rather than basic paint for the second coat in techniques such as sponging, distressing and color washing.

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