Painting Old World Stone with Texture Paint

Lucianna Samu

Color, texture and pattern are the design equivalent of a master chef's lightly sauteed mirepoix. Three simple ingredients--how is easy is that?  The color and pattern components of a fabulous bedroom design can and should be a love thing; no other room in the house is better suited to your personal taste or love of a particular color.  Patterned bedding, drapes, throw pillows, a rug or the artwork can begin to speak to the textural ingredient, but to realize a truly balanced and polished trilogy, nothing speaks to texture better than stone.

unstyled after

My bedroom is a not terribly large--11x 14 feet--and three large windows limit where the furniture and bed can go.  Once the decision to add a television was agreed on, I realized the focal point of the bedroom would soon be defined by the ubiquitous thirty-six inch black 'accessory.'  The fireplace wall, a too modern, too small, possible mistake in the room entirely, needed to be elevated to the status of a feature.  Here's the fireplace and bookshelf wall before all the painting in this room began.


After I embellished the fireplace with a mantle, I got to work making a clean, but highly textural faux stone effect, hoping to better define 'my side' of the feature wall.

Creating faux stone is the child's play of painting for decorative effect; it's dirty, dirty work.  Other finishers will disagree, but I believe the less talent for this craft you have, the better your result will be.  What we're after is a reasonable representation of a natural material that time and age and weather have conspired to make interesting.  Recreating newly minted stone, brick or rock walls is a higher calling, but painting dry-stacked weathered fieldstone, and suggesting it's been limewashed no less, is just plain fun.  Here's Esmond and me, looking very Dr. Seuss, testing out the colors and stone size.


The wall is painted Revere Pewter HC 172 and this color will be revealed as the grout color beneath the tape, and behind the finish.  Successful stone techniques begin and end with the choice of a perfect grout color, and Revere Pewter is a reliable choice.  Lots of willy-nilly, haphazardly depicted stones are described next with tape.  While some effort is made to maintain the illusion of a level consistency, some wear and decay is depicted in the 'settling' of the layout in the middle.  Be sure to apply a tape edge to the walls you want to protect, and if you're new at this, make it a wider protective edge than my one inch, so you don't mess up the adjoining walls when you start 'painting.'


You'll need to become one with the tape.  I hate to tape, but there's no way around it for stone making.  To get the grout separating each stone to appear random and uneven, the tape is torn off the roll with a wiggly edge.  I've learned that if you buy two-inch wide tape, and get your tearing and wiggling just right, you can make two separate pieces of 'grout' at a time.  Here's my torn tape, hanging from my uncovered fireplace mantle like a clothes line...


To make the paint mixture, I filled a mud pan with Benjamin Moore's Latex Texture paint, which is white, and drizzled 3 paint colors right over the top.  No mixing--just lay the paint colors on the texture paint.  Next, this messy concoction is picked up from the mud pan with a flat venetian plaster blade.  No brushes--the paint mix is laid on the wall with the blade.  You can use a spackle blade instead of a venetian plaster blade, and if you sand the sharpness off the pointy edge with a heavy grit sandpaper, you'll eliminate the annoying straight line in the texture these heavier spackling blades will leave behind.  Not much thinking going on for this work--here's Esmond and I doing a test before we started the high work.


Once that mess is dry, it's a little of this color and a little of that white to settle the look down and create some order to the effect.  To do this part, I work to refine each 'stone' individually.  Along with the blade techniques, I also apply color mixtures to the wall using waxed paper I buy from the butcher.  Butcher's paper is waxed on one side, so the paint will stick to it without loosing too much of it's water content.  The paper application adds another layer of interest and depth to the textural effect and appears different from the bladed application.


All this glop and goo and uneven painting makes for a very messy edge--bad news for an expert technique.  Scoring the edge of the protective tape with a dull knife or putty knife, before you pull the tape down, (always toward the new work!)  will ensure your edges look tidy.


Removing the grout tapes will take some doing--leaving yourself some tails hanging when you lay these tapes up, will make finding them easier when the texturing is complete.  Please don't curse me too much if you need to resort to tweezers or dental tools to dig up the tape.  Your hard work will pay off when your stunning rendition of some sort of stone looks and feels remarkably like the real thing because the grout layer is behind the paint technique where it belongs and not painted on top!


For a finishing touch, use a squirt bottle to spray water onto the technique here and there, starting at the top edge.  Gouge out a few vertical lines, and your stone will be left looking as if it's been rained on repeatedly.  Next time, I'll give you my tips for super success painting inexpensive bookcase and storage shelves.  Here's my before & after so far.  Never too sure about those chairs--maybe a coat of white paint?

before and after

Stay colorful!


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