How to Paint a Wall of Faux Tile
Use tape and contrasting finishes to trick the eye and give a room a new look
Gleaming, oversize subway tile set with thick ribbons of matte grout: It's the last thing you expect to see in a foyer or a dining room. But when the work is done with paint, the result can be a perfect, playful visual effect.
Decorative painter Ingrid Leess "tiled" this foyer wall in two days, using 1-inch-wide delicate-adhesion painter's tape and latex paint in two colors and finishes. "The exaggerated grid delivers a lot of punch, and it certainly goes up faster than the real thing," she says.
For maximum effect, she used a base coat of flat gray to create the look of grout lines, and high-gloss gold to make her glazed-ceramic-like tiles. "Strong colors work well," she notes, "but the impact comes from the contrasting finishes; you could also choose flat white and glossy ivory."
Read on for the step-by-step process, from blank wall to trompe l'oeil.
Tip: Any color combination will do—even two shades of white. But contrasting sheens are key. Choose a flat finish for the base coat (the "grout") and a high-gloss finish for the top coat (the "tile"). Draw a brush through the wet paint to give the tile subtle texture.
Make a Story Stick
Once the grout-color base coat is dry, wrap a 3-foot or longer stick with 1-inch painter's tape at 8-inch intervals; you'll use this to mark out the "grout" lines. If you prefer narrower grout lines, use narrower tape.