Painting Technique: Faux Leather

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Estimated Time: 
3-4 hours per wall
Get The Look Of Leather!

Project Steps

If adding some warmth and texture to a room or two is for you, than a faux-leather wall may be just the project. A fabulous looking faux-leather paint job is surprisingly easy to create with the right tools and a little direction. Even if you doubt your talent as a painter, it's easy to get a professional looking result with just a little effort. Read on to find out how to fool your friends with faux.

The first thing to consider is the look you're going for. Is it a rustic, relaxed feeling, or something more dramatic? The leather look comes in a variety of shades; light or dark brown, mahogany, even black! Scour catalogs and idea books and see what appeals to you. Another advantage of a faux leather wall is that it usually needs little adornment because it looks so great on its own.

Most faux paint techniques that create a textured look require several layers and often a couple of different colors of paint. For this job, a layer of white or ivory paint is set as a base while other colors are layered on top.

Creating a look of leather can be tackled in a couple of ways. Blotting wet paint with a cheesecloth or chamois cloth is what we are covering here. We recommend practicing the application of the faux technique on a couple of pieces of drywall beforehand. This will give you the opportunity to test out colors and your handiwork before it's on permanent display.

Jane Tip: Because this project involves having to blot wet paint at a somewhat rapid pace, this project is best done with a partner. One person paints while the other applies texture. If a partner isn't available, work in smaller sections.

Step 1


This leather look is created by applying a muted top coat over a bright basecoat. While the topcoat is still wet, it is blotted to expose the base coat underneath. The result is a rich leather effect.

Step 2

Tape off all adjacent surfaces, such as the walls and the floor and lay your drop cloth down. If the new color is going to be significantly darker or lighter than the existing color, consider tinting your primer first by having the paint store add a bit of color to your primer. While we advocate doing most things yourself, it's best to have a paint professional have at this job as too much color can hinder the adherence of your primer.

Step 3

Once your primer is dry, apply the base coat and let dry. Try to give it about 2-4 hours, if possible.

Step 4

With your bucket and mixing tool, combine the top coat with the glaze, per the manufacturer's instructions. Usually it's a 4 parts glaze to 1 part paint mix. Make sure to stir the glaze and the paint thoroughly, until you cannot see any streaks of glaze swimming in the bucket.

Step 5


Apply the top coat in uneven strokes, moving the roller up and down and from side to side. This pattern will help your finished wall look more like leather. Be sure not to go over the same spot too many times though; you will start to peel off your paint!

Step 6

Work in small, vertical sections. This will give you enough time to concentrate on the blotting without worrying if the paint is going to dry. You still need to work fast, however, because once the paint dries, there isn't very much you can do to add texture.

Step 7


While the top coat is still wet, blot it with a cheesecloth pom pom, rotating your wrist back and forth, as if you were turning a doorknob.

Step 8

leatehr8Add more texture to the wall by stippling the surface with a dry paintbrush. This highlights the color variance.

Jane Tip: Even though you are not using the paint brush to paint an entire wall, make sure that you clean it thoroughly. If you still have its original cardboard packaging, replace it as it will help it retain its shape.

Step 9

Allow the paint to dry, about 6-8 hours.

Once the paint is dry and you are done with the cleanup, sit back and enjoy your work! Remember, don't be afraid to play around with different decorating ideas, such as playing up the wall or letting your furniture and art become the main attraction. Either way, a faux leather finish adds dimension to a space while making it more inviting. And to think--you did it yourself!

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i have a den that used this type of technique and it looks great.

Your technique is clearly written and inviting to try. However, three years ago I wanted that look and stumbled across the paint that makes your walls look like suede. I choose the exact color of your illustration--and with only one application and no primer, either...I have the exact result. I was having an Open House for the holidays, and was having "decorators remorse" the night before, but everyone loved it and it is "warm" in my computer room/guest bedroom'!

I too have seen the "Ralph Lauren" and designer names in Suedes and Leathers ready to purchase. But they are very expensive compared to doing it with cheaper products you might already have on hand. It would be easier for me to do one coat of paint, as my health would not allow all the hand and wrist work with the cloth and painting the wall 2 to 3 times. It was also faster..kudos to you!!

I tried this and Oh boy was it easy and looks terrific, got a lot of Ahh's thanks Jane Marlene

I bought one quart of Lowe's American Tradition Faux Translucent Color Glaze in Mocha to use in my bedroom to achieve a leather look. How do I determine how much to buy? The label doesn't indicate coverage. Should I use what I have and gauge from that point? My bedroom is rather large - 20 x 21.5.

Love all these ideas... but do you also do the ceilings? My whole house is the textured beige walls and ceilings, 10 foot tall, and white woodwork. Do I leave the ceilings beige?

Could this be done on a coffee table or a side table?