Faux Painting Copper Plating Effect




About: I'm a social-worker, working with 12 - 23 year-olds. I used to be a printer. In 2018 I opened a small makerspace (www.imdib.nl) in my house, where I have lasercutters, 3d-printers, Arduino's, Mindstorms and ...

While on holiday in France I've seen a beautiful painted effect that looked like metal plating riveted to the wall. Back home I wanted to create this effect on a wall in copper-color.

Searching Instructables and YouTube, I couldn't really find the right instructions. I still wanted it so there was no other choice than figuring it out myself. (and write an Ible :) )

I am really happy with the result. (The pictures don't do it justice)

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: You Will Need

I used mostly stuff I had laying around. I just bought the copper paint, the black pigment and some brushes for this project.


  • Some old latex paint (wall paint) Any color will do
  • Gypsum plaster
  • Black pigment (you don't really need this)
  • Black paint
  • Copper color wall paint
  • Cardboard
  • Solvent for the black paint


  • Brushes
  • Sand paper
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Perforator
  • Spatula
  • Ruler
  • Cloth

Step 2: Paint the Wall Dark

You will need a reasonably flat wall to start on. We did this effect over the wallpaper and the edges of the wallpaper are a little bit visible through the effect paining.

You can use any left over bit of latex wall paint you have laying around. I colored my latex with black pigment. This will not be visible in the effect, but when you might damage your finished effect in the future it will be less visible when the paint underneath is dark.

  • Paint the whole wall with the latex paint.
  • Wait for the paint to dry.

Step 3: Mark the Plates

  • Use a pencil and a level to mark on the wall where and how big you want the plates to appear.

I made mine 60 x 30 cm (1 x 2 ft)

Step 4: Paint the Structure

Now comes the fun part. (well I liked it)

  • Add gypsum to latex wall paint
  • Stir really well
  • Add some more gypsum
  • Stir
  • Repeat until you have a gloppy paste
  • (You can also add pigment, but I ran out off it)
  • Paint the mixture on the wall with short random strokes
  • Use a ruler and a spatula to 'scratch' the edges of the plates in the material when it is still wet.

Some people might be able to 'cut' the edges by hand (but not me, I tried)

Step 5: Sand the Wall

To remove the grain you need to sand the whole wall.

  • Wait until the paint is fully dry.
  • Use 60 grid or 80 grid sandpaper on a block to sand off all the rough grain.
  • Brush the dust from the wall

Just sand off the big grain. You don't want your wall smooth!

Step 6: Add the 'rivets'

First we need a template.

  • Decide the distance you want in-between the rivets. (for me it was 4 cm = 1 1/2 inch)
  • Perforate holes in a piece of thick, solid cardboard (the corrugated board didn't work very well)

Now we have the template and we can make the rivets.

  • Hold the template alongside one of the lines.
  • Use a spatula to smear your latex mixture into the holes in the template.
  • Carefully remove the template.
  • Clean out the holes in het template.
  • Put the first hole of the template over the last rivet you just made.
  • Fill all the holes again and repeat.

When you made all the rivets they will look like points or cones. We will fix that now.

  • Let the rivets fully dry.
  • Carefully sand the rivets until they are just a few mm high.
  • Some rivets might break off. If you want, you can fix that. I liked the missing rivets.
  • Brush off al the dust.

Step 7: Paint It Gold

Now it is time to paint on the metallic paint. I used a copper/gold color.

  • Stir the metallic paint thoroughly
  • Paint the metallic paint also in short random strokes. The strokes will be visible so you can use this to break up strokes in the latex paint that came out to long.
  • Make sure to paint in all the cracks and bumps.

Step 8: Finish With Black

To give it more depth and age, I finish it of with black paint. I used some left over black paint for metal.

  • Wait for the metallic paint to be fully dry.
  • Brush the black paint in all the cracks and bumps.
  • Before the black paint is dry you wipe it off with a cloth with solvent.

The black will remain in the cracks and around the bumps. The edges of the 'plates' and the rivets will become much better visible and the plates will get an weathered look.

Step 9: The Result

I am really happy with the result. Digital pictures don't do metallic, so the pictures don't do the result justice. If I had to do it again I would start with a wall that was better prepared and 100% smooth, but beside that I would do it exactly the same.

We are planning on doing the inside of the bathroom door the same. Pictures might follow.

This project ended up to be much easier than we expected.

Teach It! Contest Sponsored by Dremel

Participated in the
Teach It! Contest Sponsored by Dremel

Be the First to Share


    • Book Character Costume Challenge

      Book Character Costume Challenge
    • Made with Math Contest

      Made with Math Contest
    • Cardboard Speed Challenge

      Cardboard Speed Challenge

    43 Discussions


    4 years ago on Step 7

    Hello, I really liked the effect you did, and I was looking ot recreate something like that too. Could you tell me which brand the metallic paint was that you used?

    Thanks in advance.

    1 reply

    5 years ago on Step 8

    That's really brilliant. I have done faux walls before with joint compound and different paints, but I'd never have thought to do copper. I would also have never thought to make a template for the rivets. That was pretty smart indeed. BTW, I love the South of France near the Alps. I'll have to work on doing a wall myself. It just so happens I have one to do ... Thanks for posting!!!

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Step 8

    It was in the south of France near the Alps where I found the inspiration for this effect, but I really don't know where exactly it was. I am curious what your wall will become.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    If you are going for copper plate, why do you go for a texture-y surface? I mean it looks cool but metal sheet is normally slick.

    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I was wondering the same thing- glad you asked. I mean of course it is her wall and all, but copper does not get rough, that's the beauty and how it changes color as it oxidizes Just call it aged metal, so people aren't confused.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Well it is my wall and not a movie-propp, so looking cool was more important than looking right. It looks now like it is really weathered. I also know that copper-oxide is green and not black, but that was not the look I went for.


    5 years ago on Step 9

    You can enhance the effect by sponging a light wash of two or three layers of turquoise / light green to simulate the verdigis effect of weathered copper. Google "faux verdigris" or see http://justpaintitblog.com/2013/09/easy-faux-verdigris-2/.

    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for mentioning my faux verdigris post. Beautiful job on your copper wall! It looks lovely in photos but I bet it's even more amazing in person!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I did something similar on folding hall closet doors to imitate a sort of silver leaf/panel effect but with a lot fewer steps. After painting a flat black undercoat, I masked off individual areas and used metallic acrylic silver paint. The key is to apply the paint in one direction and then alternate the brush strokes on the adjoining panel; vertical then horizontal. It's a bit of a pain and time consuming because of the masking, but the 3-D effect is striking; looks like several shades of color even though it's only one.

    8 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Here's the shot of my entrance hall bi-fold door closet. Apologies for the lousy shot but at least you can see the effect. Only one color of paint was used but by varying the brush strokes from panel to panel, you get a cool silver leafed panel effect.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Wow that's a super cool effect. How did you do the borders in-between the panels?


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    The borders in between is just the base color. You have to leave a bit of a gap when you mask off the next area you want to paint. If you look in the shot below, there are areas where you don't see the base coat and that resembles silver leafing more than the metal plate effect.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I like the effect with the borders. Just to bad that I have nowhere to apply it on. Thank you for sharing.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Another closet I did, hopefully a better shot so you can see the effect in more natural light.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Cool, I want to do a door aswel. Do you have pictures? or better an Ible?


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    See above. It really is as simple as I've described. Try it out; the worst that could happen is you paint over it and try again.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I live in an old house so I need the structure to hide some holes and bumps. But I really like the effect.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    this is just great. it looks great and the tutorial is terrific. WELL DONE!