When real stone is just not in the budget, consider applying a faux-stone treatment to a wall.
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You can paint "stones" on the wall, and it will certainly be a lot less expensive then hiring a stone mason. To create a stone look, you need to add what's called dimensional texture to the walls. It's really not that hard once you get comfortable with the process. As an example, a basement room was given a faux-stone treatment to create a medieval look. This project took about a week to complete.
Materials and Tools:
Aquabond® base-coat and paints
Aquastone® stone-plaster finish
The basic steps for this faux-stone technique are below.
Tip: You may want to practice this technique on pieces of scrap board until you get the hang of it.
Base-coat the walls. For this, we used off-white Aquabond® -- a pure, 100-percent acrylic base paint that bonds to just about anything. It has great bonding and sealing qualities.
Lay out the pattern using a pencil and straight-edge. You can create any size of stone blocks. You may want to consider working from a photo or books that show real stone mason layouts in different patterns. Offsetting the "grout lines" and varying the width of the "stone rows" creates a more natural appearance.
Measure and mark the walls then, use a pencil or snap string to draw the pattern on the wall. For large sections where you need a snap string mix blue chalk with an equal amount of baby powder. That way, it will be easier to remove the chalk lines later. On smaller walls use a level and pencil to connect the dots. Use a #4 pencil so the lines are light and easy to cover up later.
Apply 2-inch masking tape over the lines to create the grout lines. Tear the tape at the top and the bottom edge so that you have ragged edges, just like a natural stone would.
Tip: Allow the end of the tape to extend or overhang onto the ceiling or baseboards. This will make it easier to find the ends later after the "stone" has been applied.
The product used to create the stone look is called Aquastone® -- a mixture marble dust mixed into plaster to create a hard finish. Mix the Aquastone according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Apply the mixture over the entire area using a drywall blade. Skim the mixture onto the surface to create a random texture and dimensional quality. Apply the compound right over the tape. Make sure to expose an edge of the tape every now and then to make it easier to remove it. You want the Aquastone to be applied in varying thicknesses, no less than 1/16-inch and no more than 1/2-inch thick. You don't want the stone to be smooth.
Wait 30 minutes to an hour, then remove the tape. The Aquastone will have started to dry on the top, but underneath will still be soft and pliable. Tear off the horizontal lines of tape first, then the vertical lines.
Now tint your AquaCream® paint using dark brown, black and white tints to create three different values. Use three values of gray to get the stone castle look. Apply the colors one at a time onto each block using a 4-inch chip brush.
Randomly apply different values of gray paint to the surface. Put each new value onto the unpainted areas and blend wet into wet.
Rub off the glaze using a cotton rag. Now check your color balance You want some blocks to be darker and others to be lighter. Your goal is to have a good balance.
Tip: To create shadow around blocks, dilute your darkest value color with 30-percent water. Then take a artists brush and drag the color onto the bottom of each stone block and onto one side. Allow the color to go onto the stone and into your grout. Soften the edges with a rag.
Using the same color and a 2-inch, brush drag the color up onto the bottom of the stone so that the color runs downward. Can even do this with the mid-value color. When the stone is dry use a 120-grit sandpaper to sand across the raised area to help create highlights and add dimension to the project.
Repeat the process until you've completed the entire wall or room.