Two-Tone Patina - Part 1

Sometimes we want things to be just a little different, to stand out or make a subtle impression. Color is certainly one way to do that. Painting a room in an off-beat color, or painting a feature wall in a pattern is a great way to enhance the uniqueness of your living space. Faux painting can create depth and interest to a living room or dining room.

What's That Green Stuff?

Another way to create interest is by using a decorative painting technique called patina. Patina, also called patine, is really tied to metals. It is that greenish layer that forms on copper or copper alloys, like bronze, that is a result of corrosion. You've no doubt seen it on old buildings in the heart of some large city. The roofs or towers are a lovely shade of green. That green "paint" that covers the metal is called patina. It is also the sheen that is produced with age and wear. Like the smooth shine on that lovely leather sofa, or your leather jacket (the one you got when you we 16 and wear constantly). It is also defined as a thin layer that covers something, such as a second coat of paint.

For our purposes, we will use the concept of patina being a shiny glaze, which is really a combination of the first and third definitions.

Creating The Effect Of Patina

To create the effect of plaster that has a patina, two different color glazes can be painted onto a base color and then blotted with cheesecloth. Now, that sounds really simple. There's actually more to it than just slapping glaze over paint and wiping it off.

The technique of creating patina works well when you use colors from the same color family. However, it can also work with unrelated colors. The best way to find the combination you would love to live with is to find a goal color (the one you want to end up with) on the paint manufacturer's paint color strip. Pick a shade lighter for the base color and use the goal color and one shade darker for the two tinted glazes. Before you apply any paint to the wall, test your color scheme on some poster board first. You want to make sure you love it before you lay it on the walls.

Glazed Over

Glaze is a transparent coating that has been tinted and is applied over a painted wall. Glaze comes in latex and alkyd (oil) formulas. Oil tends to last longer than latex and is a good choice once you have your colors determined. Just remember that alkyd is oil-based and so the base coat must be alkyd as well or the glaze won't stick. That means extra care when painting and clean-up can be more involved because you'll have to use turpentine or a chemical paint remover for the job.

Tinting The Glaze For Your Special Effect

Glazes are not tinted when they are sold, so you will have to have pigment added to the glaze you purchase. You can purchase tint paint separately and then, to get the color correct, pour a small bucket of glaze and add the tint drop by drop until you get what you are after. Make sure the base paint and glazes are mixed well before applying them and try them first on some primed drywall to check the colors.

Find out how to apply the glaze in our article, "Two-Tone Patina - Part 2"