Types of Paint Glazes to Use for Faux Finishes


Paint glaze can be used to create a wide variety of wonderful faux finishes. Because glazes are transparent and mixed with paint, when they are applied over a base coat, they can add dimension and richness to a paint job.

Keep in mind that the mixed glaze will actually modify the color beneath it; a blue basecoat and red glaze will create a luminous purple, while combining the same blue base with a yellow glaze will yield rich green tones. You can use this to your advantage to achieve different effects.

Types of Paint Glazes

Paint glazes can be divided into a few main categories:

Pre-Tinted Glazes

Many glazes are available pre-tinted in a variety of basic colors. These are ready to use as is. This has several advantages such as; no need to purchase separate paint and glaze, consistency between batches and variety of different bases for different effects; metalic glazes are alao available pre-mixed.

Latex Washes

Latex washes are nothing more than thinned-down latex paint. The ratio of water to paint can be as low as 1:9 or as high as 9:1, depending on how much coverage you want. The more water you add to the mixture, the more sheer the color will be.

Because you are just thinning down regular paint, washes are cheap. They contain few VOCs and are easy to clean up.

However, latex washes do have some drawbacks.

  • They dry quickly. This makes it hard to manipulate the color.
  • Washes are less durable than acrylic or oil glazes.
  • Washes create a misty or foggy effect. This limits latex washes to techniques like splattering, ragging on, and sponging where that effect won’t detract from the attractiveness of the finish.

Acrylic Paint Glaze

Acrylic glazes consist of a clear base, to which you add latex paint. In general, using satin paint to tint the glaze works best.

Like washes, acrylic glazes contain few VOCs and are easy to clean up. They also tend to be more transparent than washes, creating luminous, instead of muddy, effects.

One drawback to acrylic glazes is their tendency to leave well-defined edges. You can minimize this by using a dry brush to gently blend away the harsh line.

Oil Paint Glaze

Oil glazes, also called alkyd glazes are the most durable of all. They take much longer to dry than latex washes or acrylic glazes. This means that the artist has plenty of time to manipulate the glaze for the perfect effect.

Faux finishes that depend on negative techniques, such as sponging off or combing, and elaborate treatments, such as marbling, are best accomplished with oil glaze.

The disadvantages of alkyd glazes include odor, high VOC content, and more difficult cleanup.

It’s important to use the same type of paint for both the base coat and the top layer. That is, if you’re using a latex paint, you should use a latex wash or acrylic glaze. If your base coat is alkyd, use the oil glaze.

Mixing the Paint Glaze

Glaze recipes vary, and to some extent, the proportion of thinner to pigment will depend on the desired effect. Testing your faux finish on a scrap of wood, poster board, or drywall will help you determine the perfect ratio. Use the following “recipes” as starting points:

Latex Wash

  • One part latex paint
  • Two parts water


Make sure to mix well. Adding more water will result in sheerer color, but keep in mind that it will decrease adhesion and durability.

Acrylic Paint Glaze

  • Six parts glaze
  • One part satin finish acrylic paint


This formula strikes a good balance between color density and workability. It is relatively sheer, allowing you to build up color in layers, and takes a while to dry, so you have time to manipulate the finish.

Note: Adding more pigment will produce a darker, more opaque glaze. Adding additional glaze will extend drying time and increase transparency. Adding water will extend the drying time and reduce opacity.

Oil Glaze

  • One part satin finish oil paint
  • One part oil glaze
  • One part paint thinner


Always use this formula in a well ventilated room and take a break if you feel lightheaded or dizzy. To extend the drying time and workability, add more paint thinner.

6 Responses

  1. Hello. Can you recommend the size can of faux glaze to purchase? I’ve searched several stores and the only size any of them sell is glaze by the quart, not gallon. If I need 9:1 for example, I will spend a small fortune to paint a larger room than say a powder room. I’m a little confused about this part. Thank you.

    1. Depends on what you are doing but a pint of paint, or less, to a gallon of glaze in enough for a small-medium room if sponging it on. If trying to highlight only use less paint and thin the glaze a little. Coverage for glaze when rolled is about 300 sq/ft per gallon on semi-smooth surfaces.

    1. Yes, waterbased glaze goes with waterbased paint. Use the glaze as the base then mix the paint into it to reach your desired opaqueness or color intensity. make sure to test as you go and write down how much paint to how much glaze for future reference.

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