Parchment Faux Finish

The Parchment Faux Finish is a very popular and easy look to achieve.

Like the leather faux finish, the “old world” look of the parchment faux finish works great in offices, libraries, and any place you would like to achieve an “aged” or “antique” appearance. It warm hues bring to mind ancient maps and illuminated books.

Parchment Faux Finish

The great news is, this is a relatively simple and painless look to achieve.

The color palette for this technique is a mix of creams, light browns, and sunny goldens that create a wonderful feeling of warmth and comfort.

Stop! Very Important! Before beginning, make sure your walls are properly prepared. Not sure? Take a look at our paint preparation instructions (opens in a new window).

Here is what you’ll need:

Necessary Paint Products

  • Latex Satin Paint (white)

  • Latex Satin Paint (in two different shades in the same cream/light brown tonality) (more on this in Step 2)

  • Faux Technique Glaze (untinted)

Necessary Paint Supplies and Applicators

  • 2” Nylon/Poly Brushes (2)

  • 3/8” Nap Roller Cover

  • Roller Frame

  • Cheesecloth

  • 2” Painter’s Tape


Applying the Basecoat

Begin by taping around the ceiling, windows, doors, floor trim, and any other woodwork or trim that is present.

The parchment faux finish technique does not require extensive base-coating, like many of the other faux finishes do. You simply need a plain white background in an eggshell or satin finish to begin.

If your wall is already white, and finished in eggshell or satin, you can skip the rest of this step. If not…

Use a high-quality nylon-polyester brush to “cut in” around the ceiling and trim work.

Using a moderately-loaded 3/8” nap roller, roll on the semi-gloss base coat. When rolling, finish each section with a smooth ceiling-to-floor stroke to help eliminate roller marks.

Per paint manufacturer’s instructions, wait at least four, and preferably six, hours before applying the necessary second coat. Wait at least 24 hours for the second coat to dry before beginning the parchment faux finish technique.


Mixing the Glaze

Begin with two different shades of the same tonality, in either a light brown, cream, or golden color.

  • Here is what I mean by the same tonality. Go to your local paint store. You will find lots of little color samples with different tones of the same color. (For example, a color sample with five different shades of brown.)

    Choose two colors (preferably from the lighter end of the spectrum) from the same paint swatch. These colors will blend very well together, because they have the same tonality.

Now we need to create a glaze/paint mixture that will be workable on the walls. Measure one part paint, one part untinted glaze, and one part water into a small dish and blend them well.

Do the same with both of the tones you have chosen. The finished mixture should have a fairly thick composition.


Applying the Parchment Faux Finish

You will need two separate 2” brushes to begin, one for each color. Choose a convenient starting point (typically a top corner).

how to parchment paint
Parchment Faux Application
Parchment Faux
Working in an approximately 3’x3’ area, begin by loading each brush with the paint/glaze mixture and applying two 1 foot long squiggly lines approximately 6” apart.

(Sounds unorthodox, huh? Don’t worry, its simple and looks great.)

Now, wad the cheesecloth up into a ball in your fist, not allowing any ends to dangle (these may smear or mar the glaze).

Using the cheesecloth, begin on the outside of your two squiggly lines of paint/glaze, and lightly rub the paint into the surface, blending the two colors seamlessly together.

You should rub in a swirling, figure-eight type pattern to give the surface a random, rounded effect. The colors should blend well, giving varying shades of lighter and darker tones.

As you work across the wall, the cheesecloth will accumulate paint and become sticky. Simply rinse the cheesecloth with warm water and wring it out well, then continue as before.

Don’t worry too much about the varied light and dark areas (remember, parchment naturally has a mixture of light and dark shades). If you begin to notice extremely “light spots” in the finish that do not look natural, simply brush some paint/glaze on the cheesecloth and dab more color into that area. Be sure to smooth out any rough lines or textures.

Finish the entire wall before stopping, so the paint/glaze mixture remains workable throughout the process.


Removing the Tape

Remove the tape from the trimwork, ceiling, and any adjoining sections while the glaze is still wet. Be careful not to mar your beautiful new parchment faux finish.

Enjoy the warm, old world charm of faux parchment.

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