What is decorative paint? What are decorative finishes when painting and decorating?

There is much more to the world of painting and decorating than meets the eye. At a glance, you’d imagine that painting walls is an incredibly easy and straightforward way to make a living, but that’s not the case. It isn’t just about slapping a paint brush against the side of a building and waving it up and down. There are decorative painting techniques, and decorative finishes that take it to a whole other level of aesthetic complexity. 

In this article, we’re going to talk about decorative paint, and decorative finishes in greater depth. Let’s take a closer look…

What is decorative paint?

Decorative painting is a rather broad category, encompassing a number of different painting techniques and mediums that can be applied to a multitude of surfaces. 

Contemporary decorative painting includes the following:

  • Tole painting
  • Folk art
  • Faux finishing

When it comes to decorative painting, acrylic paint is most commonly used. 

Tole decorative painting style

Originally, tole painting was referred to a type of decorative painting on tin. ‘Tole’, being the French word for lacquered (or enamelled metal ware), was originally a painting medium using oil-based paints to produce common elements such as flowers, fruit, and leaves. 

Traditional folk art decorative painting style 

Traditional folk art on the other hand, first originated from the lower classes of society. They created a unique style, incorporating natural bristle brushes, using primary colours, and stroke work (Comma stroke, C-stroke, and S-stroke). These styles vary significantly depending on the various cultures that they represent. In any case, they always tend to be some of the most breath-taking styles of decorative painting. 

Contemporary decorative painting style

Contemporary decorative art is typically applied to all manner of different surfaces, including wood, glass, fabrics, and plastics. Other frequently used surfaces for this decorative painting style includes porcelain, ceramics, and tile. 

AGaib, acrylic paint is most often used for this style of decorative painting because it dries much faster than oil. That, and being a water based paint makes it much easier to clean. 

Decorative painters can work with a wide variety of different brushes, including extenders, gels, glazes, and many other substances to create the most beautiful, decorative, and special effects. 

A little history of decorative painting 

Decorative painting such as pottery and furniture was huge during the 18th century. Using multiple methods, such as the one-stroke painting technique, artists used brushes loaded with multiple colours that were used to apply highlights, body colour, and shadow simultaneously. This incredible method provides a great deal of decorative depth that many other painting techniques cannot. It also does so at a speed much faster than applying each individual layer one at a time. 

Decorative painting in home décor 

There are a number of different methods that are used for decorative painting in common home décor. Faux finishes for example, emulate stone, marble, leather, wood grain, and many other finishes. This can be applied to cheaper surfaces, saving you money, whilst providing your home with the same aesthetic appeal. 

Other faux finishes include crackling, smoking, antiquing, wood graining, sponging, and more. 

And there are many other decorative finishes, such as ragging, pickling, and stippling! Ragging for example, is a technique that uses a crumpled fabric to remove or apply paint to the wall; thus giving it a wonderful and decorative effect. 

Then there is stippling, whereby a stiff brush is used to apply paint over a different colour, thus giving it a fresh and blended look. 

And then finally, we having pickling (aka washing), giving wood a washed out appearance. 

What are decorative finishes? 

Decorative finishes don’t always refer to painting. In fact, there are a number of different decorative finishes that do not necessarily need to involve paint. For example, decorative finish like venetian plaster can create a gorgeous marbled effect, without even needing a single lick of paint! 


All in all, there are countless different types of decorating painting styles, and decorative finishes. It’s all about finding the style that resonates most with you. Simply contact your local, reputable painting and decorating company, such as Platinum 3 Painting, where you can explore a wide variety of decorative options to choose from! 

Find your groove and settle on the perfect style that brings out your personality. Create a home that you can be proud of!