Decorative Painting

I learnt how to do manipulated paint finishes in their heyday in the 1980’s, a time when “paint effects” were all the rage and every available interior surface could be (and often was) stencilled, ragged, marbled, colour-washed etc. I have had therefore some experience in most of these types of finish. Including…..


This once popular art simulates wood by manipulating paint with brushes and combs. It was commonly used in the past to make ‘cheap’ timber like pine look like a more expensive wood like oak or mahogany.

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There is nothing like the warm “woody” feel of oak panelling, or antique pine doors – wooden surfaces can really glow. Old panelling or doors retain the character and history of a building, whereas new joinery will always look, well, new.

But sometimes even after the laborious job of stripping numerous coats of paint from existing wooden panelling, the resulting timber might not be worth all the effort and expense. Graining is the painted representation of the different timbers used in joinery, and was commonly used in the past to make “cheaper” pine joinery look like it was made from a more expensive hardwood. In many older buildings this inevitably resulted in all doors and skirting boards being simply grained with a sticky brown colour to make them simply look “dark”.

But at the other end of the scale, it is a skilled craft which, when done well, can look extremely convincing. Even if the graining looks “painted”, it has a unique hand-crafted quality.

Graining has another useful quality, that of “tying-in” disparate parts of an interior (beams, doors, panels), such as you might find in a pub refurbishment, to unify the look and feel of the place.

I have had a considerable amount of graining experience travelling up and down the country doing the redecoration of Pubs and Bars , as well as large and small projects in private homes. Call me to discuss how graining could bring almost any surface alive.

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Painted in places where real marble might be used (not windows!), a skillful craftsman can re-create the best marbles and stones with a painted simulation that is hard to tell from the real thing. Most modern ragged and distressed finishes have their origin in the art of marbling.


An effective broad-wall treatment. Drawing the shape of blocks on the walls, painting the ‘blocks’ to look like stone, and completing the mortar lines to give the effect of masonry walls – better than it sounds.

Textured Surfaces

The addition of fillers to thicken the paints which are then textured, followed by colour-washes. Think Italian villa, not bungalow ceiling.


Pale earth-colours brushed on and wiped off to simulate the patina of antiques, the use of crackle-glazes to suggest aged paint, and other techniques to create an aged surface.


Thin ‘washes’ of colours to give a fairly subtle distressed look to large area’s like walls or ceilings.

Ragged, Dragged, etc. A lot of the techniques used in graining and marbling can be used on their own to create ‘movement’ or textures on otherwise flat painted surfaces.

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