a finished table with a herringbone pattern combed onto it in yellow
Photo: Wendell T. Webber


If you like the textured look of herringbone, see what a paint comb can do. Drawing a comb through wet colored glaze gave this plain laminate table an almost three-dimensional look. "This is one of my favorite tricks," says decorative painter Ingrid Leess. "The best part is, if you don't like the way the pattern looks, as long as the glaze is still wet you can just wipe it away and start again."

Leess started out by sanding and priming the table, and putting down a base coat. She used a satin finish, which helps the glaze coat go on and come off more smoothly. The herringbone pattern was created with equal parts latex paint and clear acrylic glaze. Glaze slows the drying time, but when choosing a color, keep in mind that glaze will also lighten it, Leess says. To minimize drips, wipe off the comb after each pass. When the pattern is dry, top it with a protective coat of polyurethane.

Once you get handy with the technique, you can experiment with waves, zigzags, and crosshatches and on other surfaces, from walls to flower pots. For a closer look at herringbone how-to, read on.

Paint: Mythic's White (base coat), Sunny at Heart (glaze coat), and Brooks Bay (walls)
Ask TOH users about Painting

Contribute to This Story Below

    More in Painting & Finishes

    Tools List

    • 16-foot tape measure
      Tape measure and pencil
    • 3-inch painter's tape
      3-inch painter's tape to mask off the herringbone stripes
    • plastic putty knife plus extra for graining comb
      Plastic putty knife to seal edges of tape, plus an extra if you're cutting one up to make the comb
    • mini-roller
      Mini roller and foam cover
    • roller tray
      Mini roller paint tray

    Shopping List

    1. Paint comb (optional)

    2. Latex paint in two colors, one for the base coat and one to tint the glaze coat

    3. Clear acrylic glaze to create a semitranslucent, luminous top coat with an extended working time