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How To Design Ceiling Textures

Ceiling textures faux finishes Art Faux Designs Naples Fl 239 417 1888
Modern ceiling faux texture design
Better Than Goodbye by Alexandra Kay
  • Better Than Goodbye
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How To Design Ceiling Textures for Contemporary Interiors Using “Old World” Techniques has proven to be very rewarding.

Creating and installing Ceiling Textures are one of the most laborious jobs in the decorative arts (faux finishing) business.

Applying an “Old World” ceiling texture is hard on the neck, shoulders and the lower back, but the rewards of a faux finishing project that’s well done makes it well worth the effort.

When consulting  a client on ceiling textured faux finishes I first show the photos I have in my portfolio of the different ceiling textures that I have completed over the last several years to get a feel for what sparks their attention. From there I usually bring in the original sample of that particular faux finish, if I still have it, along with others that are similar to the technique that I think would also work for the area.

The room for which this ceiling texture is to be installed is in a small office/library that has a wall to wall book shelf stained in a very dark walnut color.

Although there are a variety of “Old World” styles and techniques for ceiling textures it is the modern/contemporary styles for what is in demand these days. However as I reported in earlier posts I am starting to see a turn in the market for more traditional decor  in combination with the modern/contemporary designs which has become known as a transitional interior design.

The home has that transitional kind of style and when the clients and I were discussing the ceiling texture I came to the conclusion that what they were wanting was actually a mix between an “old world” crumbled plaster with a very dark antique plaster background.

Ceiling textures faux finishes Art Faux Designs Naples Fl 239 417 1888
Modern ceiling faux texture design

My challenge was I had to create an “old world” ceiling texture to work within the modern/contemporary interior design. The colors within the homes decor are of a very contrasting blacks and whites with varying taupe colors used for mid tones. All the wood used throughout the home including what frames the art, photography, and wood flooring are either stained with an ebony, or a  black walnut color and some framing is even painted black.

Although I use a few different product lines I chose Faux Effects for this ceiling texture because what I needed I had in stock, and if I told you how old some of the products are you probably wouldn’t believe it, but what can I say, when you are discussing quality products Faux Effects International is the first that comes to mind, after all they are the best.

Of course the Set Coat paint color Dark Brown I chose because it’s close to the synthetic plaster Venetian Gem Tiger Eye for the background. Both of these colors have a raw umber hue which I could see in the bookcase color of the room.

Ceiling Faux Finishing Textures Art-Faux Designs Naples
Modern ceiling textures design 239 417 1888

I painted the existing ceiling texture with two coats of the  Setcoat Dark Brown which covered very well and then toweled a layer of the Venetian Gem Tiger Eye. The finish was designed for a smooth surface and the existing ceiling texture had a light hand trowel drywall finish. Normally I would smooth this out with drywall compound and then prime the surface but the budget would not allow for these steps which forced me to work with it.

ceiling venetian plaster textures by Art-Faux Design 239 417 1888
Ceiling Textures by Naples artist Arthur Morehead 239 417 1888

I applied one coat the Venetian Gem Tiger Eye over the existing hand troweled ceiling texture and it did quite well on covering most of it and what “telegraphed” through the V.G. actually added to the overall appearance. Using a crumbled texture technique from the second sample the client liked was added to the sample of the ceiling texture. The main challenge was to reverse the contrasting colors from a light background with a darker texture to a dark background with a lighter texture.

For the ceiling texture I used Faux Effects “Old World” Sandstone and knowing that it has an off white color I tinted it by mixing it with the Venetian Gem Tiger Eye for the following reasons.

  1. I didn’t want to change the color and just needed a lighter value to create contrast in the finish.
  2. In my experience when it comes to over glazing, or staining this material it is nearly impossible to get every single nook and cranny of the texture to cover with a single glazing.
  3. Being that this is of a crumbled plaster design it will continue to crack over time and if not tinted the “white” of the material will be revealed in the cracks, thus tinting it will eliminate the obvious contrast that would be seen because of the dark color of what is to be the final color.

To achieve the “crumbled” look of the “Old World” Sandstone I added Lime Slag to the mix vary sparingly. It will dry out the Sandstone quickly so you need to mix small batches after adding your color. For example, you want to mix enough of your ceiling texture to do the entire ceiling then add your Lime Slag to small workable portions of your ceiling texture. Do not add it to the whole batch if your working alone because it will harden very quickly and wear safety glasses, trust me you don’t want this stuff falling in your eyes.

Contemporary modern ceiling textures faux finishing, Naples Fl
Art-Faux Designs Ceiling Faux Finishing

After creating the first sample the clients didn’t think the contrast between the texture and the background was enough so this presented yet another issue with the design of the ceiling texture. I had to use the “Old World” Sandstone in its raw state in order to give them the contrast that they desired. This of course would cause an over glazing and a Lime Slag issue. To prevent any future issues with continued cracking I had to eliminate the Lime Slag and apply a heavier layer of plaster to create the millage that they liked about the crumbled plaster sample. This eliminated the future of further cracking, but I still had the issue of not being able to get an absolute 100% coverage with a single over glaze.

I chose to use Faux Effects Stain and Seal American Walnut and FX Thinner mixed at a heavy ratio of no more than 20 to 25% of FX thinner to the stain.

Remember there is a budget involved so I have to create this ceiling texture with as few steps as possible and I needed a dark semi-opaque color. So with that in mind I now had another issue.

“How do I make the little specs of white (holidays) unnoticeable in the ceiling texture after cross hatching the staining?”

The answer was really quite simple, after applying the stain mix by “cross hatching” with a stiff well used bristle brush, distress the ceiling texture with a “flat” trowel by very lightly “gliding” over the texture when the stain is about 75% dry. This will reveal the natural color of the Sandstone but by gliding a flat trowel while the stain while it’s still semi wet will disperse the stain color throughout the distressing process thus creating varied values of the off white color of the “Old World” Sandstone. I must warn you though, you must be consistent with your movements and pressure.

Plaster Ceiling Textures For Modern Design
Dark Ceiling Textures are Hot! 239 417 1888

After letting the stain dry over night I randomly applied a second layer of the V.G. Tiger Eye to make the surface appear more organic and after letting this dry  I applied a second coat of the same Stain and Seal by cross hatching it the same way as the first.

How To Design Ceiling Textures is a matter of understanding the products you work with and knowing what to expect.

I am not affiliated nor do I receive compensation from

Faux Effects International

However I have used this line for nearly 15 years and highly recommend the hundreds of products they have designed.

What product lines do you like to use?

Here are a few more ceiling textures you may want to look at

Bone Ivory for Dome Ceiling Ideas

Plaster For Walls and Ceilings

Textured Ceiling Finishes

2 thoughts on “How To Design Ceiling Textures”

  1. I used to do wall murals. I have studied frescoes classical style but do not consider myself a pro. I am at a turning point with my art and really need to make large income. Is there a market for fresco like installations do you think? 4’x8′ maximum is what I can handle. I just don’t know if I should invest in the materials.In seeing your work it tempts me but interior walls are too much for me.
    I guess my question is what is the market like for interior type murals in New Mexico?
    Thanks.

    • Hi Kristen, Thats a very good question. I really can’t say for the New Mexico market as I mainly work in Florida. However I can say the mural market is picking up for the smaller scale type murals, as far as buon fresco’s you would have to focus on a very unique market base. There are a couple of techniques I use for a “faux frescos” appearance that are pretty convincing and can be installed easily like a mural. It’s in 2 parts and you should be able to follow it easily as I mention the products I use. Faux Fresco Project 1

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