Don’t knock a knock-off until you’ve tried it. Faux decorative finishes might not carry the same pedigree as genuine marble, wood, or other lavish materials, but you can actually achieve remarkable imitation surfaces if you have the right tools—and at a much lower cost. In addition to good-quality paint, you’ll need a reliable specialized brush that can help you create convincing textures that convey luxury. Our picks below will help you transform and update any drab surface.
1. Princeton Brush Catalyst Blades Set
The six brushes in this set are capable of producing a range of textures with little effort, whether you are painting on canvas, ceramics, or a wood panel. Each features a wooden handle and heavy-duty silicone head with slight flex that moves and contours paint efficiently. The heads range from a bristled edge to a sharp angled one, allowing you to create lines of different widths, gentle ripples, and waves, with controlled strokes. Although designed for heavy-body paints, the brushes can be used with a range of media—the silicone is even FDA-approved so you can bring these tools into the kitchen. Plus, they come in cheery, tempting colors.
2. Royal & Langnickel Wavy Stippler Brush
Royal & Langnickel’s brush excels at creating realistic-looking wood and marble grains. The bristles are structured in a gentle undulating line that creates a mottled look, and they are properly anchored in a nickel ferrule, so you don’t have to worry about shedding. The four-inch-wide ferrule also doubles as the handle, so your grip is near the bristles, giving you greater control over mark making.
3. da Vinci Varnish & Priming Series Pencil/Pipe Overgrainer
This curious-looking brush is a great option for painting convincing striated or veining effects. It features four well-structured brush tips that maintain their points during use, so you can paint consistent lines in one stroke. These are thoughtfully designed brushes, featuring smooth wooden handles and good-quality synthetic hair rooted in rust-proof ferrules.
4. Royal & Langnickel Softener Brush
If your budget allows for a more high-end tool, spring for this one that’s made with badger hair. The bushy bristles are soft at the tip for delicate blending, which helps you to create subtle variations in color and texture. Ideal for applying water-based glazes, this brush is easy to use for deceivingly authentic results.
5. Polyvine Flogging Brush
Another good choice for mimicking wood surfaces, Polyvine’s brush can help you cover more area in less time. The natural bristles are long, so when you drag them across a surface they effectively displace paint to create a streaked look—you can also shift your hand angle slightly as you go for a more organic look. To simulate the look of pores, try hitting the flat side of this brush on the still-wet surface.