The Dreaded Touch-up: How to Apply a Detective’s Eye to Faux Repairs

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By Deanne Lenehan

Touch-up projects—whether it’s integrating with another artist’s faux work or camouflaging ugly fixtures—are among the biggest challenges a painter can faced. But because of this, they can also be the most rewarding.

Repairing a Finish Effect

A couple had to make some repairs to the drywall around an office window after contractors installed new windows. The previous finisher was no longer in business, so I was called in to do the repairs. I did some sleuthing and was able to determine the colors and technique used. I only repaired the areas that were damaged and did my best in blending them into the wall.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. I hand-mixed a color on my palette that would work as a base coat and took a piece of card stock and painted some onto it. I dried it down and held it up to the wall to gauge whether or not I was on the right track. I adjusted the color as necessary.
  2. Once I got the base color dialed in, I applied a few coats to the damaged areas that were already skimmed out.
  3. Next I had to get the right glaze color. Again, this was a trial and error process, applying the glaze onto the painted card stock and drying it before holding it up to the wall.
  4. The hardest part was applying the glaze without going over the painted edge so as to not create a halo or “burn” line where the new glaze overlaps onto the existing surface. With a small paintbrush I applied the glaze, then used another brush to stipple out the surface until I was satisfied.
  5. I added a second layer to the glaze to darken it until the wall looked like a seamless whole.
Before After

 

Repairing Wallpaper

When touching up wallpapers, there are two directions the work takes. Sometimes it’s fixing faded areas because something, like a hanging picture, has been removed. In other cases it’s repairing a hole when something like an electrical box has been removed. In one recent project, muralist Sharon Leichsenring, owner of Leichsenring Studios, had to find solutions to both types of problems.

Leichsenring’s typical method is to apply adhesive backed mesh to the area, followed by several coats of compound. She then sands, primes and applies a matching basecoat. However, in this case she couldn’t tape off the area because the paper was old and the tape pulled the paper. In addition, another artist had attempted to repair the paper prior to Sharon’s arrival, but the colors didn’t match and the repair was very noticeable.

  1. First, Leichsenring added Mixol universal tints to the white base of Benjamin Moore Regal Select flat finish.
  2. Due to the nuances of this older paper, the paint application required some nuance. The background had to be lightly stippled to match 30 years of aged paper. Plus, the discoloration was uneven, challenging Leichsenring to adjust her palette as she went along.
  3. Expanding the repair to the surrounding areas allowed Leichsenring to blend and camouflage the area, saving the client from having to rip out and replace all of the wallpaper.

It’s not impossible to make repairs to a decorative finish or camouflage unwanted fixtures so that they do not interrupt the eye when gazing upon a beautiful interior—but it does take practice and careful study in order to make a seamless and unnoticeable repair. Like I always say, “good faux is hard to find,” and should be hard to find if done right.

First wallpaper repair Wallpaper repair by Sharon Leichsenring

 

Deanne Lenehan is owner of Lenehan Studios, and a member of the International Decorative Artisans League. Learn more about Lenehan’s work at lenehanstudios.com

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IDAL, faux painting, touch-ups, wallpaper

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