Painting my way to Marrakesh.
April 3, 2012 8:06 PM   Subscribe

I love the walls in this photograph. Moroccan, textured, uneven. I'm moving into a new place soon. I don't know much about painting. What do I need to do to make my walls look like this?
posted by Jairus to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Sponge painting is one technique that will give you a textured look like that. You roll down the first coat, then go over with a different color using a sponge (or some other uneven thing) and stamp paint all over the place. We did this in our first baby's nursery with two shades of yellow paint for a blotchy, uneven sort of look.

You can use things other than sponges for different effects, but that should get you started in the right direction.
posted by jquinby at 8:13 PM on April 3, 2012

Milk paint
posted by Wantok at 8:33 PM on April 3, 2012

I'm also no expert in interior painting, but in the photo it looks like there was a solid base color applied, in a slightly lighter shade, and then a darker color applied on top which was then rubbed and burnished for a smooth but uneven shaded effect. My guess is that paint was dabbed on in small areas and then rubbed with a cloth of some kind. I would be curious if you should potentially mix the darker paint with a substance to make it "rub" better, or if a particular type of paint is good, or perhaps you burnish it with a wet cloth.

Anyway, by googling "faux finish painting" I found that both the DIYnetwork and HGTV television channels appear to have how-to videos and tutorials for this type of thing. Might be a good place to start.
posted by dahliachewswell at 8:38 PM on April 3, 2012

Google "Venetian Plaster." I'm pretty sure that's what you are looking at in that photo. It is finished with a burnishing technique.
posted by jbenben at 8:42 PM on April 3, 2012

Venetian Plaster is a technique which has spawned some modern (and easier) products, like this stuff from Behr.

Martha Stewart has a product called Potters Clay which does a similar effect. That example is in blue but it comes in about 20 different hues.
posted by barnone at 8:47 PM on April 3, 2012

It depends on what kind of finish you want, funky or pro. I go funky.
Not exactly this look (I can’t tell that well from the picture) but I’ve just used joint compound, just trowel it around unevenly. Several times I’ve torn up the old wallpaper unevenly, then joint compound, or even troweled pieces of paper into the wall. Do the whole wall, making sure to go all the way to the edges, and then paint.

One base color covering everything. If you don’t go too heavy the different levels of wall and joint compound will come out slightly different shades, especially if you don’t let the joint compound totally dry first. Then I mix a darker shade (or try lighter) with glaze and do another coat unevenly. You can use a rag, brush, whatever, I just don’t really like sponge dabbing. Then another glaze color, then more coats of glaze, one or a mix of the previous colors until it looks good, usually when it looks organic and I can’t see my work.

If it’s drywall, have fun, you can’t really screw it up beyond repair.
posted by bongo_x at 9:08 PM on April 3, 2012

Years ago I watched an episode of the UK show Changing Rooms where the goal was to give a room a Moroccan theme - the designer mixed sand into the paint for a lovely textured appearance.
posted by humph at 11:25 PM on April 3, 2012

I did the sand thing once, but used sandbox sand from Home depot. It worked, but was messy and literally fell off the wall. I think it was the wrong sand, and/or I used too much. It’s still up though, and looks good. I think they make special materials for doing this.
posted by bongo_x at 12:07 AM on April 4, 2012

Rag painting maybe? I haven't ever done it myself, but knew someone once who ragged her room and was pleased with the results.
posted by springbound at 3:46 AM on April 4, 2012

The answer you are looking for is venetian plaster. As mentioned, use the Behr product; you can purchase it at the Home Depot.

Understand though that there is a fair amount of effort required to get the burnished look. It's not hard to do, but it takes a lot of elbow grease.
posted by lstanley at 6:30 AM on April 4, 2012

Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Looking into the Behr venetian plaster. Does 'burnished' refer to the polish? I'd prefer something matte anyway.
posted by Jairus at 7:21 AM on April 4, 2012

I used McCloskey crackle and aging glazes over scarily-bright orange to do something similar in our bathroom. Sorry the photos aren't stellar representations but the effect of their porcelain crackle is very unlike that of the standard, old-barn-like crackles out there—it's much more like the fine alligatoring over an old oil painting, so when you rub the aging glaze over top, it comes out looking like old burnished leather. (The metallic was used on the ceiling over blue, giving it a lapis night sky sort of thing.) The technique was dead easy and it came out looking pretty good.
posted by mimi at 7:58 AM on April 4, 2012

I tried the venetian plaster- small wall, LOTS of work. LOTS.... and then you're stuck with the texture, dings in it are a pain to repair. Burnish refers to the extra smooth look of the plaster- it feels wonderful to the touch & makes it look more finished (not glossy, persay), otherwise it can look a bit like dull butterscotch pudding or clay on there. Its worth the work- but its more a 'Tuscan' look, and I ran way out of patience on even a small wall.

For Morrocan, Try lime instead.
posted by iiniisfree at 7:58 AM on April 4, 2012

The lime looks amazing. I found this producer of internal lime wash paint which looks basically perfect, but sadly they're not in Canada at all.
posted by Jairus at 8:50 AM on April 4, 2012

For the Venetian plaster, if you trowel it on and let it dry, it will dry to a matte finish. This will not look like the wall in your picture.

If you want to burnish the plaster so that it looks like your picture, you would need to use a stainless steel trowel to go over the plaster in a motion like ironing a shirt in small circles. After some effort, you'll see the burnishing come through; parts will be more matte, other parts will be very shiny, and other parts will react to the stainless steel and get a bit darker and shiny.

Remember, it's a commitment to plaster, and a commitment to return the wall to its former smooth self. The last time I had a Venetian plaster wall in my house, we kept it matte as it matched the decor a bit more, and luckily for us, the Venetian plaster style was quite the rage when we sold our house back in 2005. I don't know if that same style persists today, so you may have to tear down the wall and re-install the wall to get it smooth again if a plaster wall is a sale or moving concern.
posted by lstanley at 9:00 AM on April 4, 2012

While looking at lime wash, I've also come across milk paints, which seem like they also have the same kind of look, without the commitment issues of venetian plaster. Has anyone used those?
posted by Jairus at 10:48 AM on April 4, 2012

I can't open your image, but I'm pretty sure I know what it is, anyway - that's called tadelakt. Search on that, and you should find some good tips.
posted by HopperFan at 11:26 AM on April 4, 2012

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