What Is Graining And Combing?

What is Graining and Combing? An explanation of the faux finish style, graining and combing. Graining and combing can give any surface great texture. It is a popular technique that artisans use to give life...

Graining and combing can give any surface great texture. It is a popular technique that artisans use to give life to their work. Our expert, Lu Goodwin Mark, owner and director of Austin School of Faux Finishes at Design Center of Austin, says the process is fairly easy.


"Graining or Combing are the terms used to describe a technique of drawing a textured tool through a tinted glaze, creating a fine 'strie' or striped effect. Basic Graining or Combing is not too difficult, but requires a steady hand to extend the graining tool or comb through the glaze mix," Mark says.

Graining and combing techniques are used to give a layered look on furniture, doors, walls, etc.

"The graining technique can be used to imitate a wood grain. In Combing, the tool is usually coarser and can also be manipulated into shapes and designs as well as fine, straight strie," Mark says.

These are the materials you need to get started using the combing technique: furniture or accessories, base coat paint, acrylic paints in several colors, paintbrushes, several sizes of combing tools, metal spray paints, glass spray paints, matte board, and scissors.




Make a comb by cutting a square of a mat board, and then cut teeth out of one side in desired pattern. Apply base color to the item with appropriate paint and let it dry.
Put a thick coat of a contrasting color of acrylic paint onto the surface. Run a comb through it in desired pattern, wiping it off between strokes.

For woodgraining, the materials you will need are a wood graining tool, door, paintbrushes, 220-grit sandpaper, rags, plastic containers, paint trays, china bristle brushes, latex glaze, bule painter's tape, artist's brushes, putty knife, and water-based wax.

Start by practicing on a primed/base-coated sample. Then, sand your item. Remove all debris. Paint in the direction of the wood. Tape-off the horizontal (including mitered) edges of the trim. Make sure to push the tape down really well so paint doesn't bleed underneath.

Repeat what you have done to the unpainted vertical areas of the door and let it dry. Administer a coat of wax or varnish. Don't reapply varnish in wet areas, as it can get clumpy.

Combing and graining are excellent ways of spicing up your home, Mark says. A good idea may be to get a book on the process, first. Read up on your materials, and then start your project.

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