That depends on what I am painting. But, for the most part, I find that a 1:4 ratio of paint to glaze is ideal for most faux finishes. First of all, what is glaze? Glaze, scumbol, extender, medium… all are basically, more or less, the same thing. There are subtle differences between them, and we use them for different purposes, but, for the most part, they all are kind of like an “un-tinted” paint. This is a very simplistic answer, but for the sake of today’s discussion, it will suffice.
There are many different ways to spell these things, so don’t let that throw you. Scumol is the same thing as scumble, and glaze is the same as glase, or… I have even seen it called glaseing… (don’t ask me, I still haven’t figured out where they came up with that spelling). For our part, we usually refer to it as glaze.
So what is it, and how do I use it?
Glaze is a medium, acrylic or oil based (although the oil based mediums are being phased out), with less sicative (drying agent) and more polymer emulsion, glaze is used to add transparency to paint. This transparency makes it possible to show what is underneath. The degree to which an under-layer shows is dependent, in part, on how much glaze is added to the paint. More glaze equals more transparency. Be careful, too much glaze will equal too much transparency and your effect will be “lost.”
Other factors that will affect the level of transparency in your glaze will be the color(s) you are using, the specific effect you are applying, and the number of layers you will be adding.
I find that for most two to three color faux finishes, I need more glaze than paint. Here is how I do it: I select colors with my client, a “main” color that will show the most… this color usually matches the floor treatment, furniture or window treatments, a secondary color that will show a lot… this color is usually a compliment to the main color, and, sometimes, a third “accent” color that will show only a little. Of course there are dual schemes, monochromes, and a host of other ways to relate color… but this method will work for all of them.
It is also important to note that for this discussion, I am talking about mixing glaze with common, interior house paint, always in an egg shell, satin or semi-gloss finish, including the undercoat, or first coat, of paint. My personal preference is to work with eggshell. You should not use a matte finish unless you are very skilled and looking for a specific effect, as most fauxs will dissappear into a matte finish.
So… my client wants me to match the colors in her Tiffany lamps (which are all over the house), and use these colors to create a tertriary (three color) color wash on the walls of her living room. When I am done matching the three most prevalent colors in the lamps, I have “Marble Head Gold,” “Butter Cream Yellow” and “Cold Blue Steele” for my tertriary scheme. The client wants the effect to be light and airy and so the blue color needs to be the one that shows the least.
I mask-off the room and paint the walls the blue color… solid… top to bottom… the husband comes home from work and FREAKS-OUT!! The walls in his living room are a dark, gray-blue and this is not at all what they wanted! I ask them to calm down and in two more days, when I am done with the room, if they don’t like it, they don’t have to pay for it.
The next day, I mix one quart of the yellow color with one gallon of glaze and one cup of water. I use this mix to “color-wash” the walls with a big four inch barn brush. The next day, I mixed one quart of the gold color with one gallon of glaze and repeated the same color wash technique, but with a smaller, three inch brush… being careful never to over-do it, and always allowing some of what is underneath to show through. These mixes are for huge rooms… for smaller areas, mix less material, but in the ratio 4:1 with a splash of water.
When I was finished, and the room was un-masked and the furniture put back in place, my client not only paid me, they took me out to lunch and insisted I do the rest of the house! We spent several months there and made each room unique while maintaining a natural “flow” of color and pattern from one room to the next. I know it is a low quality photo… this job is from ten years ago, but you can see the gray-blue color peeking through from under the yellow and gold. The same colors, were used to create venetian plaster in the dining room, above a crackle effect we did below the chair rail. For the venetian plaster, we allowed a little more of the blue to show through and we reversed to order of the gold and yellow so the living room would be predominantly gold and the dining room would be more yellow… per the client’s request. The crackle is the same steely-gray-blue with only the yellow color on top. One of my favorite jobs so far!