5,000 Years of Faux

c. 3000 B.C.
Wood veneer
Egyptian craftsmen cover furniture with precious wood veneers, creating the first known faux material.

c. 30 B.C.
Stone veneer
Romans use their marbles, sheathing rough temples with finely polished stone slabs.

Italian craftsmen one-up their Roman ancestors, mixing plaster and pigment in an imitation of marble.

Venetian plaster
Artisans on the island mix lime plaster with marble dust and develop a lightweight material with a stonelike sheen.

Decorative plaster
Cast or draw-formed ornaments prove easier and cheaper to make than carved stone or wood.

Imitation stone
Colonial Americans use wood to imitate stone columns, quoins, and balustrades. At George Washington's Mount Vernon, builders lace the paint with sand to heighten the deception.

Faux painting
Wood-graining, marbleizing, and trompe l'oeil become wildly popular as mass-produced paints become widely available.

Embossed linoleum simulates elaborate bas-relief plasterwork on walls and ceilings. (below)

Vinyl siding
Thin sheets of plastic, molded to resemble wood siding, promise an end to exterior painting.

Porcelain 'stone' tiles
Unglazed, pigmented ceramics are polished or textured to look like stone, but are stronger and lighter.

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