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Faux Finish Trim and Cabinets

Hello The Home Depot Community,


It's FAUX FINISH DAY in the Paint Department!


I recently had the opportunity to assist a young lady whose online handle is "forensicmom." She is from Maryland and asked for help extending the useful life of her kitchen cabinets. In particular, she asked for help using faux finishing techniques and wanted to know the steps involved.


Her goal was to extend the useful life of her cabinets for about five-years until she can replace them.


Click the link to view a two-minute video we created to assist her.


I am asked this question regularly, so I am posting the video to help the rest of our community.


After reviewing the general technique, please read through the thread and join the conversation if you have specific questions about a project you would like to faux.


 "How To" faux wood grain is demonstrated in this video.

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Posted 2010-10-26T14:41:07+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL Pat_HD_ATL

Hey TinaB!


I'm glad that you found us, appreciate you joining so you can share your expertise, and pleased that you found the video useful. Welcome to the Community!


Cover Stain, the oil-based primer used to create the base for our video project, is labeled, "sticks to all surfaces without sanding." Existing factory finishes are designed to repel stains and they often repel the next coat of paint. That is why I usually recommend a "buff" sanding before you proceed.


Have a look at this video we shot to show changing a stain color from light to dark. The project is demonstrated on a cabinet door and one of the first steps is buff sanding.


So to answer your questions, you can prime without sanding according to the manufacturer, but I would probably take the time to buff sand with a 220-grit paper anyway. It will improve adhesion and also remove any debris that cleaning may have missed.


When your "new look" cabinets are done, please come back to the Community and share your work ... and be sure to post pointers that made your job easier.

Best Answer

Posted 2011-01-20T11:56:24+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL


I have wanted to faux my cabinets for several years. The estimates of more than $6K have kept me from completing the project. But, after seeing your video I am much more confident that I can do it myself. I would like to know how to pick the right color combination. Would you please explain? Also, do you recommend a clearcoat?


Posted 2010-10-26T23:35:25+0000  by ELV

Hello ELV,


This is Christine and I wanted to chime in about your future project. Faux finishes are a lot of fun, and PatInPaint did a wonderful job explaining this technique.


What kind of look are you going for? Were you thinking something dramatic or natural? There are many faux finishes for you to choose from. Depending on the look you’re going for will determine which colors you should use. For this particular technique, Pat used a basic neutral color under a dark glaze to achieve a natural look. For this faux finish this color combination worked well.

Let us know what kind of look you are going for, and we can come up with some good color suggestions for you.


We look forward to hearing from you,


Posted 2010-10-27T18:16:10+0000  by Christine_HD_ATL

Hello ELV,

I am so pleased that the video brought you inspiration. There is no need to put your project off any longer ... You can do it!


Color selection, like Christine explained, is dependent upon whether you want a traditional or dramatic look. And, there is a simple way to get an idea how a base color and glaze color will work together.


Go to your local Home Depot Paint Department and select color cards that you believe will work with your decor. You can get a rough idea how the colors will look together by holding the base color in front of glaze color and revealing only one-fourth of an inch of the glaze color, like this:




Select several color combinations that you believe will work together and also take time to visit the cabinet displays where you can see factory faux finishes. Some of my customers find the selection process as simple as matching a factory faux color combination with the color cards they select in the Paint Department. Confirm your selections by taking the color cards home, tape them together to reveal the glaze color behind the base color, and display the cards on the cabinets you want to faux. The lighting in that room is vital to the overall look you will produce.


Finally, I do not usually recommend a clear coat. Many of my customers want to create an aged or distressed look. Shiny clear coats defeat that purpose. But if you would like to apply a clear coat, be certain to use a water-based polyacrylic labeled for application over either oil-based or water-based finishes.


Christine and I have tried to get you enough information to get started, but we are here to help if you need more detail.

Posted 2010-10-28T19:19:13+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL

That's a good tip on matching the glaze and paint colors.  You may have said this but how long does a process like this take? My kitchen is pretty small - do you think I could do this in a weekend?

Posted 2010-10-29T00:26:42+0000  by samsambuca

Wow and thanks for the tips Pat and Christine. My cabinets are currently off-white over dark granite. Since this will be my first attempt at faux, I would like to keep it simple. I like the idea of using color cards to come up with the right colors, but I still have a little doubt about whether to use a clear coat. I think I'll look at cabinets in the store to see how they are done. My kitchen is large w/ about 30 cabinets, so I expect the small kitchen estimates in the video may have to be tripled. Do you think that is about right?


Posted 2010-10-29T02:42:58+0000  by ELV

Hey Samsambuca,

Thanks again for your contributions to the Community.


In a nutshell, I said a small kitchen would take about $25 to $50 worth of materials and between 5 and 10 hours devoted to the project. Keep in mind that 5 to 10 hours of working time will be spread across several days.


Having said all that, I would recommend reviewing the video as well as running test samples on remnant pieces of trim or an old cabinet door before you begin the project. This will ensure that your color choices work and will give you a better idea how to manage the timeline for removal of the faux glaze.


You will not be able to treat an entire kitchen in one pass. The timeline you establish will likely allow you to treat 2 or 3 doors at a time.


After following your questions and answers on the Community, I know you're a capable DIYer. I would really like to see a photo when you finish the project.

Posted 2010-11-02T19:18:48+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL

Thank you for the video! I've been looking all over the internet for informative videos on this kind of faux glad I found it here. I do have a question...I am planning on doing this to the cabinets in my I need to sand the cabinets before I start a project like this?

Posted 2011-01-18T22:32:03+0000  by TinaB



Thank you so much for your reply! I can't wait to get started! I'll be sure to post some pics when it's finished!


Thank you again!


Posted 2011-01-20T22:07:17+0000  by TinaB

I was able to finish my bathroom cabinet in the Faux finish and I absolutely love it! I tried uploading some pictures but it said the files were too large.  I did have a few issues so I thought I'd post a few things that helped me. First off...the glaze that I purchased set up very quickly...the cheesecloth wouldn't bring any of the glaze up so I used a damp rag...which worked great! I also found that I needed to be careful when I was trying to rub the glaze off because my top coat started to peal off down to the primer. Other than those two things it went pretty smoothly and I love the results! Thanks for all the help!

Posted 2011-03-03T04:45:21+0000  by TinaB
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