DIY Network

How To Apply a Denim Paint Technique

This "denim" faux paint technique creates a warm and rustic look.

More in Decorating

denim faux paint technique
  • Time


  • Price Range

    $250 - $500

  • Difficulty

    Easy to Moderate


Step 1: Paint a Base Coat

Since the base coat will need to be lighter than the denim-colored paint -- to create the look of lighter underside stitching that's characteristic of denim material -- use a satin or semi-gloss ivory or pale yellow paint. For our demonstration, a soft yellow paint was selected.

Step 2: Add the Denim Glaze

Once the base coat has dried, apply the denim glaze over the base coat using a paint roller. Denim glaze can be purchased pre-mixed at paint stores or home centers.

apply denim glaze over base coat

Step 3: Create the Denim Pattern Vertically

As soon as the denim paint has been rolled on, use a wallpaper brush to create the denim-fabric "pattern" in the wet paint. Ideally, this paint technique is a two-person job, with one person rolling on the paint and the second person standing by, ready to use the brush to create the brushed-pattern while the paint is still wet. With the denim glaze applied, use the wallpaper brush to comb the paint, creating vertical strokes to mimic the vertical lines of the material. A stiff-bristle paintbrush can be used, but the wallpaper brush is wider and makes the job go faster and easier. As the stiff bristles remove some of the denim glaze, they partially reveal the base coat underneath. This is termed a negative paint technique since the pattern is actually achieved by removing paint.

use wallpaper brush to create denim fabric pattern

Step 4: Create the Denim Pattern Horizontally

With the vertical comb-strokes done, use the same technique in horizontal strokes to mimic the horizontal lines of the material. The crisscrossed brush-strokes create the textured pattern that emulates denim fabric.

create denim pattern horizontally

Step 5: Paint the Area Near the Edges

If your wall already has crown molding or a chair-rail installed, you'll need to protect the wood trim with masking tape. Use a paintbrush to carefully brush or stipple to create the brushed pattern in the area adjacent to the molding.

Step 6: Add a 'Worn' Look

For an added touch of realism, use a check-roller to enhance the brushed pattern with a "worn denim" look. Roll the check roller -- applying firm pressure -- across the denim glaze after it has already had the brush-effect applied, but before the glaze has had time to dry. Once you're done, allow the glaze to dry thoroughly according to the manufacturer's instructions.

add worn look with roller