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What Is Faux Finishing on Concrete?

If you have a concrete surface (concrete wall, floor, walkway, etc.), it's likely it can be faux finished. "Although a 'faux finish' means different things to different people," explains Christina Lask, owner of Faux Designs in Albany, Ore.,"it's as simple as something that is not a solid color."

Faux finishing techniques have recently started to merge with concrete. "A lot of people have concrete in their yard or in their home that they don't want to look plain, gray and boring," says Khara Dizmon, managing editor. "They're asking faux finishers to change the look of their concrete. They want their plain, gray entryway to be transformed to look like old-world Italian walls. Or they want their basement walls to look like carved rock. All of this can be achieved with various faux finishing techniques, and at a fraction of the cost than if you were to use traditional materials, such as stone, etc."

Not only are faux finishers able to transform the look of existing concrete, they're also using concrete as a medium for achieving these appearances. Lask recently used a Portland-cement based product to create the look of a Venetian wall. Many concrete contractors are taking concrete up the wall, stamping or carving it into natural rock-like patterns, and faux finishing it with various colors to achieve a realistic look.

What Is a Faux Finish?
Faux (pronounced 'foh') means imitation or fake. "A faux finish is made to look like something else," says Lask. "It's using color and application techniques to make something look like fake stone, fake marble, or fake wood." But because it looks like something else, it doesn't mean it has the same texture. A Venetian plaster, a common faux finishing material, is usually smooth and does not have a raised texture like regular plaster. "The look of texture is achieved in the 'faux finish,'" says Lask, "using various colors or burnishing techniques to create areas of depth."

How Is a Faux Finish Applied?
A typical faux finish is done with a simple glaze. "If you compare a glaze to paint, you'll see that paint cannot be moved around once it goes on the wall. You can't manipulate it," says Lask. "A glaze has more "open-time" or more time to work it around on the wall. It's more workable. A faux finish would incorporate this glaze in 2-3 colors on a wall. These 2-3 colors are moved around with sponges, rags, brushes, bags, newspapers, etc. It creates a variegated look. This is a basic faux finish. And the best way to tell a good faux finish job is that you don't see the tool marks. You can't tell where a sponge was used, versus a brush, etc."

Now those same techniques are being applied with concrete products such as vertical concrete mixes for walls, concrete stains, concrete overlay materials and toppings, etc. The moldability and workability of concrete has more and more faux finishers interested in it as a useful medium for various surfaces.

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