How to Apply a Denim Paint Faux Finish To Your Walls
If you love that denim look, bring it to your walls with denim paint using this faux texture painting technique. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial to achieve faux finish walls and add personality to your space.
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Today, we’re dishing the skinny on our jeans. No, not skinny jeans. We’re talking the jeans on our walls, mind you. Denim and linen are great fabrics – they have super classic, never-go-out-of-style textures.
And the denim (or linen) look can easily transition to a wall! Now, when you hear “faux texture painting” or “faux finish” it may bring a horrid distant memory of sponges to mind.
Before you break out your paintbrush…
Make this project easier with the FREE DIY printable instructions and supply list! Click here or on the picture below to get instant access now⤵️!
Denim transcends time.
Think back to staring up at popcorn ceilings from your bed in 1987 – a bed that probably sat atop forest green plush wall-to-wall carpet. You probably laid there on your bed admiring those faux finishes while listening to Duran Duran on your walkman or boom box. Your hair was permed, and your jeans were pinch-rolled.
But you wore jeans, right? Sure, they may have been acid-washed…
The point is that denim is a classic texture that has transcended time in our culture. And because of that, what better look to put on our walls?
If you’re looking for something that won’t be out of style by next season, THIS faux finish denim paint is your answer.
Quickly, before you begin this project, let me send you the free printable guide with the supply list and all the details/instructions. Click here or on that image below now⤵
Faux Texture Painting Technique
The best news of all, this denim faux finish is not a tough DIY, and it’s inexpensive – win, win. On a budget, you will be adding great texture, depth, and timelessness to your living space.
There aren’t very many wall painting techniques (at least faux painting techniques) that I’d endorse.
I did do a post about 19 faux paint finishes that are actually awesome. Definitely check it out.
Linen and denim are the two I believe are most timeless.
In a different DIY blog post, I talk about how to achieve a linen faux finish. That technique has a beautiful, subtle effect as well.
Here are a couple of shots of a linen paint technique in our son’s room (above and below), although it’s hard to really appreciate how pretty it is in these pictures.
But today is denim paint day.
Our family has moved 5 times in the last decade, and we’ve used this denim faux finish in each home. We even finished our first nursery (back in 2007) with denim paint. Here’s an oldie but goodie from my pre-blogging days…
I’m not kidding when I say EVERYONE who walks into a room we’ve painted denim thinks that the paint is actually wallpaper on the walls. People have to touch it to believe it’s really not wallpaper.
Denim wallpaper or a navy grasscloth would cost probably over a thousand dollars per room. This faux finish technique will run you a fraction of that cost.
Oh, and before you start this DIY project…
Grab your printable instructions, supply list and guide for this DIY project! It’s free and will be sent to you immediately! Click here or on the picture below to start:⤵
Alright! It’s time to get to the Denim Paint Faux Finish Tutorial!
Supplies for Denim Paint Faux Finish Technique
- Base paint, in desired color*, eggshell or semi-gloss sheen (Behr-Vermont Cream)
- Faux glaze **some are pre-mixed (Ralph Lauren) OR mix at home (Behr or clear Ralph Lauren)
- Desired topcoat color, eggshell sheen. (To be mixed with glaze ONLY if not already pre-mixed). (Sherwin Williams-Indigo Batik)
- Nap and Roller
- Paint Tray
- Denim Weaver Brush(I used a Ralph Lauren brand brush, but they are hard to come by now. Check here, or look for a Purdy weaver ). I’ve also found these brushes at Home Depot which could be a great backup if the other options are unavailable!
- Painters’ Tape (⬅ this one is my favorite size/brand)
- Paintbrush (for cutting in-linked my favorite size/type)
- Measuring Tape/Pencil
- Level (recommend 4ft)
- Clean, plastic paint pail (about 3 gallons) with lid (to save any remaining glaze/topcoat mixture if you did NOT purchase a pre-mixed glaze)
- Clean rag(s) to wipe weaver brush on while weaving
*I have noted and linked the paint to the colors we used in our room in case you want those exact matches.
**Ralph Lauren faux glaze can be tinted for you at the store/pre-tinted/pre-mixed. You can also buy the clear glaze in Ralph Lauren’s brand, which will require mixing at home. Behr faux glaze will be mixed with the paint color of your choice at home. For Behr’s glaze, the proportion is 1-quart paint: 1-gallon glaze.
Here’s a quick, 2-minute video overview of the whole process…
Denim Paint Faux Finish Walls Steps:
Though not difficult, you should know that this process takes several days to complete due to the need for the paint to dry between steps. I just wanted to mention that upfront!!
1. Day One: Paint the Base (Neutral Color) Coat
Before applying the blue-tinted glaze to your walls, they need to be a nice, bright white or warm white paint shade to start. Why? So that the blue glaze has a contrasting color underneath that will show through once you start the “weaving” technique.
In our room, we chose Vermont Cream by Behr in eggshell sheen. It’s a light khaki/off-white color. Ralph Lauren suggests using semi-gloss as the base coat, so choose whichever you prefer.
Allow the base coat(s) to dry overnight before moving to the next step.
Below is a paint swatch of the color we used for our base coat.
2. Day Two: Measure and Tape Off the Walls
Math time. Yuck.
Since this technique is achieved by painting sections of the wall individually to create the look of seams in fabric, we need to figure out how large each of those panels will be.
The width of each panel should be somewhere in the 24″-42″ range. It’s ok if the panel width is slightly different from wall to wall but should be the same on any single wall – thus the math.
Example: In a room measuring 9′ x 10′:
9′ wall = 108″ / 36″ = 3 panels
10′ wall = 120″ / 24″ = 5 panels OR 120″ / 30″ = 4 panels
Your room will look best if the sizes of the panels are as similar as possible, considering the overall dimensions of each wall. In the above example, you would divide the 9′ walls into (3) 36″ panels, and divide the 10′ walls into (4) 30″ panels.
With your panel sizes calculated, it’s time to mark the panels and prepare to tape them off. For this step, you will need a measuring tape, pencil, and 4′ level.
Measuring & Taping Panels Prep Work Notes:
- Tape off both the ceiling AND the floor or base molding of any walls that will be painted. For the ceiling, remember to tape ON the ceiling, and not at the top of the wall you’re going to paint.
- Remove socket covers and light switch covers
- With switch/socket covers removed, tape over top of the actual sockets and switches…you’ll need to brush your glaze right over top of these, so you don’t want to paint them by mistake
- For the vertical tape creating each panel, use a level to make sure your taped line is completely vertical and not wonky
- You’ll be painting every other panel to start, so place big “X’s” with your painters’ tape on the panels that you won’t be working on during the first pass.
Once your vertical panels are taped off, it’s almost time to begin the glazing.
A good thing to do before proceeding is to simply place some “X’s” using your painters’ tape, on EVERY OTHER section in your room.
Why? Because this technique involves painting the sections in stages, and the “X” marks will help remind us to skip adjacent sections so we don’t make a mistake.
You can see our “X’s”in the image below where we are mid-way through the painting process.
3. Day Two: Mix Your Glaze
If your glaze was not pre-tinted, now is the time to mix your chosen top coat (blue) color with your clear faux glaze. Different brands may have different recipes, so check the label and recommendation for the proper proportions for your brand.
For Behr (what we used in this space), the recommended recipe was 1-quart paint to 1-gallon faux glaze. We mixed this in our clean, empty 3-gallon paint bucket with lid.
*NOTE: If your room is large, and you know it will require more than 1 gallon of paint/glaze to cover, it is best to pre-mix ALL your material at the same time to avoid any minor tint differences that would occur with multiple batches.
4. Day Two: Prepare light switches and outlet sockets
Remove covers to all light switches and sockets, then simply place painters tape over the top of the plugs and switches.
You will be glazing right over these, so make sure they are adequately covered with tape.
*Don’t forget to grab and print your free project guide! Click here or on the picture below now⤵️:
5. Day Two: Glaze and Weave the First Panel
Watch this video clip of the glazing/horizontal and vertical swipes and then read the directions below before starting to glaze and weave:
- With a standard paint roller and nap, choose your first panel – any panel. Paint the glaze onto the first panel.
- Do not just paint TO the tape on either side of the panel. Instead, paint all the way to the middle of the tape, in order to make sure that every millimeter of that panel is covered with glaze.
- DO NOT GET ANY PAINT ONTO THE ADJACENT PANELS! You will have to glaze relatively quickly because the weaving is done IMMEDIATELY after the glaze is applied.
*REPEAT: Glaze ONE and ONLY ONE panel at a time!!
A) Horizontal Swipes
Now it’s time to use your weaver brush/tool. If you weren’t able to track down a “legit” weaver brush (they’ve been harder to come by in recent years) then look for one of these at Home Depot.
With your panel completely covered in glaze/paint, grab your weaver brush, and:
- Starting at the top of that panel, do 2 side to side strokes at the top of the panel.
- Push enough so that the bristles on the weaver brush bend slightly, and try to retain a consistent amount of pressure as you are weaving.
- Have your rag handy, because you will need to intermittently wipe the excess paint off your weaver brush as you go.
- Continue this side to side brushing with the weaver down the entire length of the panel.
- Be sure to swipe ALL THE WAY TO THE TAPE ON EITHER SIDE.
- DO NOT END YOUR SWIPE BEFORE THE TAPE. If you do, you’ll see odd bristle marks on the panel. Aim to stop the swipe in the middle of your tape.
- If you encounter a light switch or socket (which should now be covered in painters tape) BRUSH RIGHT OVER, DON’T STOP! If you stop at these obstructions, you will again have odd brush marks on your wall. Not good. Swipe right over top those suckers with your weaver brush.
B) Vertical Swipes
Once the whole panel has been swiped side to side, you will continue using the weaver brush, and wipe the panel vertically.
Start at the top of the panel, with weaver overlapping tape. Make one continuous swipe from top to bottom of the panel, trying to maintain as straight a line as possible. Use consistent pressure on the brush.
Continue this process across the width of the panel. The last vertical swipe should overlap the tape on the other side of the panel.
6. Day Two: Skip One Panel, Then Continue the Glazing & Weaving Process
DO NOT glaze the adjacent panel to the one you just completed. Instead, skip one panel, and continue the process above.
Now glaze and weave the 2nd panel, following the same procedure as described above in Step 5.
Once the 2nd panel is complete, again skip one panel, and continue the glazing/weaving process around the room until every other panel has been glazed and wiped with the weaver.
Allow 24 hours to dry. Your progress should look similar to the shot below at the end of day one.
7. Day Three: Remove the Tape – Then Re-Tape.
Moving into the last day of the process now! Here is a video clip showing the process for these next steps:
Leaving baseboard/ceiling tape in place, go ahead and remove all the vertical panel taping from yesterday and discard.
Now, we’re going to re-tape those vertical panels in preparation for round 2 of painting and weaving. As we re-tape to paint the remaining panels, we are going to pay attention to place the tape back about ⅛” or so from the edge of your painted line.
This overlap of the fresh paint with the edge of the panels we painted yesterday is what creates the “fabric” look. You’ll just barely be able to see these “seams” or vertical lines we’re creating with the paint.
If you want those seams to be more dramatic and pronounced, move your blue tape back even further to about 1/4″ or whatever you think will work best for the aesthetic you’re trying to create.
Take your time taping off the panels throughout that room, remembering to place the tape back slightly from that painted edge. It’s a bit time consuming to do it properly, but this step, if done right, will really help your efforts turn out beautifully!
8. Glaze and Weave All Remaining Panels
Now that we have our panels re-taped, round two of glazing and weaving is exactly like the first. We glaze one panel at a time (all the way to those tape lines, and make sure you actually overlap the painter’s tape a bit).
Then weave our back and forth horizontal swipes, followed by one vertical swipe, ceiling toward the floor.
In the picture below, you can see that the tape has been painted over on both sides as the panel is glazed and weaved. This will create the look of the denim seams, and prevent missing paint on any parts of the wall.
In the shot below, you can see the brush is moving vertically down the wall, and the left side of the brush is actually weaving right on top of the painters’ tape.
Make sure to keep that rag/paper towels handy to clean off the excess paint from the weaving brush once in a while.
And also remember to never stop moving the brush mid-swipe until you’re over the painters’ tape (for horizontal swipes) or on the baseboard/floor or ceiling (vertical swipes).
Finally, remember to brush right over the top of (painted) sockets and switches) when encountered (as seen above).
9. Remove Remaining Tape & Reveal Your New Denim Paint!
Woohoo – we’re done! Remove all remaining tape and take a look at your painted denim faux finish!
We hope that you’ll enjoy your new denim paint faux finish as much as we love ours.
Love the denim paint? Me too! Check out more ideas in our youngest’s fishing/camping/outdoorsy bedroom!
To see a similar faux finish, called “Linen”, check out these posts, from our other son’s room!
Not ready to take on your denim paint project right now? Pin this denim paint project for later:
Pssst…before you go, I sure would love to hang out with you again really soon!! Become an insider and get first access to all that’s new here at the nest. Click the image below to join!