paint
Photo: John W. Taylor
1. Paint
There's an art to making the painted surfaces in a house look old and worn, even if they were just installed last month. Decorative painters Susan English and John Harms share some of their basic techniques for creating a rich, timeworn look on beams and distressed woodwork.

1. Paint. Apply a flat, off-white latex paint with a clean cloth rag, which leaves a film of uneven thickness. (That's a good thing.)

2. Distress. Simulate the aging process by randomly attacking the paint with a pull-type paint scraper or 60-grit sandpaper.

3. Glaze. Add a tablespoon of the off-white paint to a pint of acrylic glaze, then tint it with pigments like raw umber (for a sooty depth) and yellow ochre (for an aged warmth). Glazes and tubes of tint are available in paint stores. Brush the glaze over the distressed paint.

4. Flatten. Let the glaze dry for about 10 minutes, then rub it down with 0000 steel wool. This removes some of the glaze from the high spots and leaves it in the low spots, giving the illusion of woodwork that has aged in place.

Tip: After mixing up a batch of thinset, let it sit (slake) for 5 to 10 minutes so the liquids and solids have a chance to fully interact. When it's ready, it should have the consistency of peanut butter.
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