Faux Painting Metal

Faux painting metal is usually done on smaller objects like candleholders or pictureframes, but you might consider transforming your wooden furniture as well, or having a wallsection in a metal-look. It’s not difficult, there are nice metallic laquers available. Most of the effect comes right out of the can. Good preparations and an additional glazing will do the rest.

Some faux painting metal materials are not that faux at all – gilding is done with real gold, in leafs as thin as burned paper’s ashes. That’s cheaper than taking solid gold, but gold it is. Some copper paints contain real copper, which makes painting faux metal patina very easy – in time, the copper turns green all by itself. Gilding does take some skill (I haven’t it tried yet). If you want to do it yourself, allow yourself a learning process - take a gilding course.

Metallic Laquers

These are great materials, but they can’t do the trick all by themselves. The illusion of metal depends on smoothness (except for imitations of forged iron and such). Prepare your piece by sanding and filling. Give your desired object a coat of primer. After drying, clean and degrease it, and put on the metallic laquer. Eventually complete your piece with a transparent finish, to either make it look shining new, or a bit dirty from aging.

  • For a new look, take a high-gloss transparent finish
  • For an aged look, take 1 small volume of dark brown paint and dilute it with about 3 volumes of transparent laquer, semi-gloss

Put it on, then “rub” the piece clean with a soft cloth, leaving some dark stuff in the edges. When copper ages, it first gets dull and darker, and then develops a magnificent green patina. You can paint that with a cold green color, applied with a dry brush. You can also get a real copper patina, from a bottle - Click here for a copper patina paint that enholds real copper. It turns green in time, by itself. If you will put your faux-metal-painted object in frequent use, give it an extra protection coat: a shiny or midshiny urethane lacquer. Green patina looks best with a matte finish.

Faux painting metal on laminate

Laminate is a very smooth material, and with the right primer, you can do faux metal painting on laminate with no problems at all. Use a shellac-based primer: Zinsser Bin sealer (transparant) or

Faux painting metal: Aluminum, Bronze, Copper or Silver

  • For an aluminum faux painting metal look: no metallic laquer is needed. First a midgrey primer. Then take a lighter grey, and add 2 volumes of transparant glazing medium to it. Spread it with a roller, take it out of the edges. Better apply two very thin glazes, than one that is too thick.
  • For a bronze look: First a medium-dark warm brown primer or hiding paint (depending on the surface). After that, apply a half-transparent shiny glaze of a darker warm brown. Eventually, rub in another very thin glaze of black, taking away some of the shine again. Eventually, give it a green patina. For that, you take matte, light and cold greenish paint.
  • For a copper look: use copper metallic paint on a warm red-brown primer, in the same color as the copper paint. If you will do a green patina, you only need to create a few spots of copper. Spray it on everywhere very thin, and do some extra copper in a few places. After that, you add the green patina.
    For that, you need a cold green chalky matte paint. Brush it on, and dabble on it with a cloth to cover up the brushstrokes. Better do two coats, than one that shows brushstrokes.
  • For a silver look: prime in white, then use metallic silver paint. Finish with a shiny transparant laquer. You could also use aluminum kitchen foil as wallpaper (like in Andy Warhol’s Factory). Aluminum foil is very easily damaged – like leaf gold. If you want to mount it on, prepare the job thoroughly. Have a flawless surface, an organized workspace, and make sure you have someone to help you. Use an acrylic binder for glueing. Roll the glue on, one section at at time, with a paint roller. Clean the table with a wet cloth, or put the next strip of foil exactly where the previous one was. Put on the foil, working from top to bottom, then use a big, new, soft roller to evenly press the foil onto its glue. If glue gets on the roller, wipe it off with a damp cloth right away.

Faux painting metal walls

Would you like a metal-look on your wall? Using metallic laquer might be a little expensive for big surfaces – but if you use a midgrey primer, you can use it economically. Eventually, give it a second coat of acrylic paint, in about the same color. For bronze that would be a medium-dark warm-brown color. For copper, take earth red, for gold, take yellow ochre. After that, you can juice things up with a metallic laquer, here and there. Use a spraycan for that.

Crucial for faux painting metal on big surfaces: you need a flawless, smooth wall – no wallpaper, holes or dents. If you don’t have new walls, consider mounting plates of hardboard against the wall. Prime the hardboard with midgrey primer. New hardboard is very smooth and doesn’t need sanding, only degreasing.
The paint may cause the fibers to swell and stand up. Check it by caressing the surface with your fingers. If it’s rough: sand it with fine abrasive paper, degrease, then apply another thin layer of primer.

Visible screwheads willl make your faux metal even more convincing. If you want to leave the screwheads visitle, first drill the holes in the wall (through the board) while firmly holding the plate in its place. (You will need some help here). Then take it off, and prime the hardboard with midgrey primer, and spray some metallic laquer on them, then screw them on. After that, add a last finish to visually connect the screws and the plates. Use a semi-transparant coat, brush it on, and rub it off with a cloth.

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