Alternative Wall Surfaces With Decorative Finishes

While nothing brightens up a room like a fresh coat of paint, you may occasionally feel a little adventurous and wish to try something different. There is an almost endless list of alternatives for plain, solid painted walls.

Here are a few suggestions on how you can breathe life into your home, make a statement or simply add a touch of elegance to a room with a few simple techniques.

Faux Finishing

Whether you choose to hire a professional or do it yourself, decorative painting, or faux finishing, gives you the freedom to express your individual style and create a room that uniquely reflects your personality, and it doesn’t have to be as complicated as it sounds.

Keep in mind that it’s best to start with a well-prepared surface. Your walls should be primed and then have two coats of either an eggshell, satin or semi-gloss base coat.

As with any interior painting you’ll want to tape off baseboards, ceiling edges, trim, window and door frames. Use drop cloths to protect furniture and floors. Check your local home improvement center for glazes, paints, do-it-yourself kits and supplies to help you achieve the look you want.

Applying natural clay plaster to wall.

Alternative Surfaces


Ever thought of putting cork on your walls? It’s not only decorative and warm to the touch but can also reduce noise. Cork works best on inside walls that face away from the sun because of its insulating properties. If installing cork in a kitchen or bathroom, be careful that it does not come in direct contact with areas such as the bath, sink basin, etc.

Cork is widely available at craft stores and home improvement centers and comes in a variety of sizes and shapes. Be sure to measure the space you want to apply the cork and either chose ready made squares or cut the cork to size.

Simply apply a layer of adhesive to your wall surface and then press the cork on to the wall. To ensure an even, level surface, you may wish to use a roller to press the cork down.

Magnetic Paint

There are a few alternative wall surfaces that’ll keep you organized and the kids occupied. Walls can serve as play areas or workspaces with magnetic or chalkboard paint. Magic Wall Magnetic Paint is a pre-mixed, lead-free, water based latex primer that provides a magnetic surface.

Simply apply at least two coats of the magnetic paint to your chosen surface. Wait 24 hours and then apply your choice of any kind of topcoat.

Chalk Board Finish

Chalkboard paint.Another interesting option for walls is apply chalkboard paint. This paint is available in green or black from Krylon, as well as other companies, and can be apply just like paint to any flat area to turn it into a writable surface.

Now, kids can use their imaginations all over one wall of their own. Simply apply two coats of paint, allow time to dry between coats then lightly sand.

Adding Texture & Depth


For a soft, striping effect on your walls apply a thin layer of joint compound or thick, wet latex paint and create a combing effect. You can use one of the combing tools available in stores but we found that a regular hair pick, a trowel with notches in it, or even a squeegee with notches cut into it work just as easily to create a variety of effects.

Gently drag the tool through the joint compound in one continuous line. Waving the lines or using a fanning motion provides even more interesting looks. Joint compound is widely available at most home centers.

Editorial Contributors
Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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