Faux Finish Business Pros Share: What I wish I’d known.

Antique paint and decoration sign via Ruby Lane Antiques.

Hey! For much more about how to build and grow a profitable, low-stress faux finish business, check out my 4 part series

One question for pros

“What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your Faux Finishing business?”

The faux finishing business can be tricky

For me, starting out was all trial and error. Partly because, at the time, there was little or no information and partly because I’m hard-headed and like to do things my way. 

So here’s my answer to this question: I wish I hadn’t tried to reinvent the wheel.

Since there were few or no faux finishers in my town, no internet and no books about the business, I’d have had to go to related businesses like house painters, muralists and other artists, and try to apply their experience to my.

But I was young and not business savvy so I scrambled along with very little help and even less professional information. If I were starting a new business today, I’d seek advice from people who have businesses that I respect and want to emulate.

I’ve done a lot of this in recent years and almost everyone I talk to is not only willing to help, but enthusiastic and encouraging. 


Judith Tait
The Paint Lady

After 36 years there isn’t much I haven’t learned about the faux finish industry. In answer to your question I wish I had known the health affects of the products I used in the ‘old days’ on my own jobs and in the film industry. I eventually after much debate was told I had mercury poisoning and had to go on chelation therapy for 18 months to get rid of it. (kind of like getting your car fluids changed).

So my advice is use products that are non-toxic, no matter if they are not what you are used to, we fought hard to have them in the marketplace. Your work will end, life is long. Live long and prosper! Judith


Kathy van Gogh
van Gogh Furniture Paintology

Not a darn thing! Every step I’ve taken has led me to where I am now. Every step is a necessary step. Knowing anything other than what I learned as I went along may have changed where I am now and I’m very happy with where I am now. The universe unfolds before our very eyes. We just have to be watching.


Dee Cunningham
Deelite Design llc

I wish I had KNOWN that there was such a thing as decorative painting otherwise I would have began the business sooner!

I’ve always loved drawing and painting and wanted to do something related to art as a career but never knew that there was a way. I was never taught about the “decorative” arts when I was in college. I majored in art ed and taught for 8 years before going full time.

My first year teaching was also my first year doing murals. I had a fellow teacher ask me about doing one for their daughter’s bedroom. I continued building my knowledge and business in the decorative arts until I quit teaching to go full time in 2008. I’ve never looked back. I love my job!!


Gerri Wilson
Gerri Wilson Faux Real

I have few could of – should of thoughts however, it has always been tricky to be the artist, designer and the billing department at the same time.  

Most of the time I am pleased with my estimates.  I enjoy giving great service to my clients but to be fair to myself, I’m rarely compensated for the time for sample boards, meetings and trips to get supplies.  

And I would benefit by attending more work shop/classes to stay challenged and have fresh ideas.


Stavros Tosounidis

The one thing I would have liked someone to tell me was that being a great tradesman doesn’t really have much to do with running a successful trade business. You can always hire the talent.

I wish I had taken a course on how to run a successful business from budgeting to book keeping with a focus on analyzing true profitability on every job.

Most importantly I regret not having learnt the art of BRANDING and MARKETING my business earlier. There is a focus on improving your craft (absolutely necessary) at the beginning or your career and nothing about building a brand and a business.

I started drywallrepairman.com one year ago and branded it from the beginning and started marketing it online from the get go.

Even though it’s early days for this business, at this stage, I don’t have to look for work or pay for direct advertising online and yet ALL of my business comes from the small amount of TARGETED traffic I get online. The phone is always ringing and emails keep coming in and growing every month. I could go on and on, but I hope this answers your question.


Tom Terranova
The Urban Edge

My first thought was— I wish I was 20 years younger in learning but then I thought that prior to about 1990 everything was done with oil and today’s products are better.

So my answer is that I wish I had an art background along with my training in house painting. I took two workshops at the idal convention on woodgraining and both instructors used proceed products. Both teachers were European trained and love acrylics. I am also trained in faux effects products and taken two cabinet workshops. 


Roberta Ahrens

Good question! I thought back to when I started my business in 1984…

The 80’s were hot with the use of faux finishes. We used to finish whole houses, walls, ceilings, trim, fireplaces, medallions, built-ins and columns… all in one home at times!

Designers would specify the Tuscan, or Old world look – the style was IN!

Trends in design control your business- If I had known that it would only last through a trend I would have squirrled away my $ more than I did 🙂


Cher Cultrona
Cher Cultrona Finishes

Hi Norman, I wish I would have known how to sell myself better, ie; what methods of marketing work and which ones don’t work at least not for me.
I wasted too much money on Home Shows and Direct Mail which ended up being useless.
Thank you!

I’m still doing outreach for this post so it will grow as more answers come in.
If you have a decorative painting business, please send me a message with your answer and I’ll get you a copy of my business building ebook ‘Paint Profits’ and consider your answer for this post, including a link to your business. That’s right, free publicity!  



Would you like some help with Faux Woodgrain?

Link to woodgrain paint course sign up page

Link to woodgrain car paint course sign up page



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.