Old vs. New Painting Techniques

Old vs. New Painting Techniques

If you take a look at history, you’ll find that painting has come a long way from where it began. As it stands, there is seemingly no end to the shades of paint you can get. You can walk into your local paint shop with a swash of random color fabric and almost always get the exact same color you desire.

At the same time, techniques used to apply these paints have evolved. They are now easier and more efficient than ever. Paint jobs that would have taken weeks only a few decades ago are now completed in days. But it hasn’t always been this way.

In this article, we shall walk down memory lane, seeing how the older techniques compare to new painting techniques.

Old painting techniques

It might come as a surprise, but mankind’s fancy for interior décor can be traced as far back as 40,000 years ago. Yes, even the cavemen had a sense of taste. Only in this case, their paint would be extracted from all-natural ingredients such as soot, animal blood, or the colored earth. You can almost imagine them agonizing over what color to choose; bison blood-red, because it blended with their stone ‘blinds,’ or grey because … well, for lack of better options.

A recently discovered archeological site in South Africa; had walls covered in yellowish-brown clay-type soils as a kind of coating, suggesting that the paint was intentionally used to add an aesthetic appeal to the walls.

The fresco technique

Later on, about 30,000 BC, Murals, a style that is still popular to date, came to be. It was later seen in 3150 BC in Egyptian tombs, Minoan palaces at about 1700-1600 BC, and even Pompeii in 100 BC. However, it was only till the 1300s in Italy, Circa, when murals started being painted on wet plaster, that the quality of wall painting grew.

The artistic style was prevalent from the 16th to 19th century, where you’d find artists like Michelangelo painting their spectacular art pieces directly onto the surfaces of grand chapel walls and ceilings. The Fresco technique of mural painting, in particular, incorporated an artistic movement that made the use of lime wash and water-soluble paints. The mixture would be applied on large wall surfaces as massive wall paintings. And it was pretty durable too. On completion, such a painting would last for months, if not years.

At the time, painting in private homes was left for the more noble individuals. Upper middle classes would decorate their homes to make a statement. Otherwise, it would also be more commonly found in various public buildings like churches, libraries, theaters, and courthouses. More interesting decorative techniques would also emerge, including pattern designs that looked like wallpaper, dimension, and other elements to add depth and accenting spaced through borders.

New painting techniques

A bit further down the line, painting became mainstream. Different kinds of paints came into the scene, including oil-based and leaded paints. By the 1940s paint was a pretty standard element of décor for homeowners. Currently, the most common types of paint used are water-based and latex paints, which adhere better and are generally more environmentally friendly.

While it might seem like the painting techniques of today are stale and outdated, there are still tons of creative techniques that can do wonders in transforming your space.

They include:

Stencils — This is basically a technique whereby you can create a replica of a pattern or design and paint it on your wall. To apply the pattern, you’ll use the stencil, and with the help of superimposed holes, apply the design to the surface. It’s an easy way of adding a touch of sophistication without breaking the bank. You can even do it yourself. All you need is to order your stencil of choice and follow the process on the internet.

Striping technique — Striping is a timeless technique that will never really go out of style. As the name suggests, it involves painting stripes on your wall. Often these can be alternating shades of the same color. What you get is a more perceived dimension. If painted horizontally, stripes can make the room look more spacious. When done vertically, the room will look higher.

Sponging — This is yet another painting technique that is popularly used to create depth and texture. It typically involves first painting the wall with one solid color paint, then adding some depth by randomly dabbing paint soaked sponge in random motions on the wall. Ultimately you get more texture and depth on the wall. It can be a great exercise to do with the family as it requires no expertise to execute.

Rag rolling — Just as the name suggests, rug rolling involves rolling a rug across a wet painted surface. Like sponging above, it is mainly used to create texture and depth.


While the general quality of paint today is better and longer-lasting, there’s no denying that some older designs were pretty impressive in their own right. And by combining the two, perhaps you can make something beautiful. Whether it is that 19thcentury style mural to make an accent wall or simply using stencils to add some beautiful patterns, your wall will only end up with more appeal and wonder.

As always, for best results, before trying out anything, you’d be wise to consult the professionals, who stand a better chance of better enacting your crazy ideas.

At Painter Bros, we strive to always evolve with the times. Old school or new school; we have the tools and skills to make it happen. Feel free to contact us today and let us do the rest.