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As Seen In Decorating Retailer
Sleight of Hand
Feature from Decorating Retailer, June '96
In this feature, G. Lisa Sullivan and Diane Capuano talk to Pro Faux about the explosion of faux finishing techniques and how retailers can capitalize on its popularity.

The popularity of Faux Finishing

The popularity of faux-finishing techniques exploded over the past several year, with more and more people trying their hands at turning plain old walls into works of art. The realm of faux-finishing techniques is vast, including sponging, ragging, combing, marbleizing, wood graining, stamping, block printing, stenciling, color washing, crackling, weathering and is stressing, among others.

Yet, a major obstacle to faux-finishing is the fear factor. Some people hesitate to try a technique, stymied by uncertainty: "How will I know what to do? Will I be able to achieve the look I want? How can I avoid mistakes?"

Fortunately, many faux-finishing techniques are relatively easy to accomplish with the proper tools and proper advice - both of which can be provided by paint and decorating retailers.

"Do-it-yourselfers are becoming as proficient professionals at doing some of the simpler finishes," stated John Catalanotto of Pro Faux workshops & Tool CO., an Akron, Ohio, firm that provides faux-finishing education and specialty tools.

Now there is greater use of latex and acrylic latex products, which makes the process more manageable by the do-it-yourselfer. There are literally hundreds of different looks for a variety of aesthetic tastes, including very sophisticated techniques that are easily accomplished.

In the past several years, the price of faux-finishing tools has come down dramatically, which also has added to the accessibility of many more techniques. Some tools were $30, $40, $50, even $100, and it was difficult for the consumers to make that type of investment. Now , most tools are less than $20, and some are less that $10. That means that the do-it-yourselfer can get involved with more complicated techniques.

Try It Yourself

Paint and decorating retailers may want to try faux-finishing themselves so they can convey their customers when describing the various techniques.

To accomplish that, Leslie Harrington, corporate interior designer for Benjamin Moore & CCO., offered this advice: "For inspiration, read books, magazines and how-to pamphlets. Start every project with no preconceived notions of how the project should look once completed, or you may be disappointed. Let the paint do the work, and let the pattern establish itself."

Harrington added that common house hold items have the potential to be great faux finishing tools. "These can include sponges, brooms rags, feather dusters, floor mops, even window washing squeegees, sandpaper, steel wool, hammers, pieces of chain, nails and glue," Harrington pointed out. The advantage for paint and decorating dealers is that many of these items can be stocked in their stores.

Nancy Kraig, color marketing manager for Martin-Senour Paints, urged dealers to use their imaginations and experiment. "Why not try newspaper or garbage bags as tools to create a look?" she suggested.

"It's always best to try the colors you have chosen on a piece of dry wall or practice board before you start," Kraig added. "This will allow you to make any changes of color placement, value or hue before you get to the final master piece."

Pro Faux recommends adding The Flood Company's Floetrol to latex paints and Penetrol to oil paints. These products eliminate brush marks and roping and also prolong the wet edge of the paint. "The conditioner is the secret ingredient," stated Frohnapfel. "You'll never fool anyone if you have brush marks on our marble." And lengthening the dry time provides a longer period for applying techniques and correcting mistakes.

Frohnapfel also suggested setting aside a special time and place for studying and painting samples. He recommended taking time to research faux finishing at the library and observing the finishes on buildings and furniture. Dealers also may want to consider taking classes at local colleges or for a serious student, enrolling in a workshop taught by a faux finishing professional.

"Once you're ready to start, be patient with your self," Frohnapfel cautioned. "Many times, we expect immediate results. Experimentation and patience are the key elements to faux-finishing success." Faux finishing is gaining broader exposure in print and electronic media, which adds to consumer interest. In fact, Pro Faux appeared on "Our Home," a popular Lifetime cable TV program, in May '96, to demonstrate faux-finishing- textures.

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