Revolutionizing Your Home Decor with Industrial-Style Painting Techniques

Bob Thomas

If you’re a fan of raw, unrefined interiors that tell a story of authenticity, industrial-style painting techniques might just be the revolution your home needs.

With a blend of warm, neutral colors, metallic accents, and weathered finishes, industrial style brings a touch of vintage elegance to modern homes.

As a qualified painter and decorator, I, Bob Thomas, am here to guide you on your journey to recreating this unique aesthetic.

Quick Summary

This article explores a range of industrial-style painting techniques to enhance your home interiors. Key takeaways include: 1) Understanding the Industrial style 2) Mastering the dry brushing technique 3) Achieving the vintage look with distressing 4) Exploring the color washing method 5) Choosing the right tools and materials for each technique Remember, every painting job is a journey, and the joy is in the details – so, let’s dive in.

Understanding the Industrial Style

Industrial style is all about embracing rawness and authenticity.

It takes inspiration from old factories and industrial spaces, featuring elements like exposed brick, metal, concrete, and wood.

Color schemes are often neutral, using shades of grey, brown, black, and white, occasionally accented with pops of vibrant colors.

The charm of the industrial style lies in its stripped-back architecture and minimalistic approach.

Best colours to use

Choosing the best colors for an industrial-style interior can be subjective, and largely depends on your personal preferences and the specific mood you want to create.

That said, there are a few color palettes typically associated with the industrial aesthetic that might serve as a good starting point:

Neutral Palette

The most common color scheme in industrial interiors is a neutral one. This palette can include various shades of:

  • Grey: From light to dark, grey is the quintessential industrial color. It can evoke the feel of concrete and metal, essential elements in the industrial style.
  • White: Bright whites can contrast beautifully with darker elements and help to lighten up the space.
  • Beige: Earthy and warm, beige shades can soften the harshness of industrial elements.
  • Black: Used sparingly, black can add depth and sophistication to an industrial-style space.

Accent Colors

In addition to neutrals, it can be effective to introduce some accent colors to add character and interest. Some suitable options might include:

  • Red: A deep, brick red can echo the look of exposed brick walls.
  • Blue: Industrial spaces often incorporate blues, especially denim or steel blues, reflecting the color of blueprints and machinery.
  • Metallics: Silver, steel, and copper colors can give a nod to the metallic elements typically found in industrial design.

Bold Contrasts

For a more dramatic effect, you might consider incorporating bold contrasts. For instance:

  • Black and White: The high contrast of black and white can create a striking, modern industrial look.
  • Dark Brown and Cream: This combination can create a warmer, more inviting aesthetic while still maintaining an industrial vibe.

Remember, the best color palette for your space will depend on a variety of factors, including the amount of natural light your room receives, the size of your space, and the specific industrial elements you want to highlight.

It’s all about balancing these factors to create a cohesive, visually pleasing design.

Mastering the Dry Brushing Technique

Dry brushing is a fantastic painting technique that can give your walls a textured, weathered look, perfect for an industrial-style home interior.

Materials Needed:

  • Flat paintbrush (2-inch width preferred)
  • Latex or acrylic paint (choose a color that contrasts with your wall color)

Step-by-step Guide:

  • Start by selecting the right paint color. The key to achieving the industrial look is to use neutral tones that mimic the rawness of materials like metal, brick, or concrete.
  • Dip your flat brush into the paint and wipe off the excess on a paper towel until the brush is almost dry.
  • With a light hand, brush the paint onto your wall in a cross-hatching pattern. This creates a subtle texture that mimics the weathered look of industrial spaces.
  • Allow the paint to dry before deciding if you need another layer. The beauty of dry brushing is in its subtlety and depth of texture, so avoid overdoing it.

Pro Tip: To enhance the effect, you can use two or more complementary paint colors. Start with the darkest shade and gradually dry brush layers of lighter colors for a dimensional effect.

Achieving the Vintage Look with Distressing

Distressing is another technique that adds character to your walls and furniture, providing them with a vintage appeal that’s perfect for the industrial style.

Materials Needed:

  • Sandpaper (medium and fine-grit)
  • Primer (latex-based)
  • Base paint (latex or acrylic)
  • Top coat paint (latex or acrylic, contrasting color to base)
  • Clear sealer

Step-by-step Guide:

  • Start by preparing your wall or furniture piece by sanding it with medium-grit sandpaper. This creates a rough surface that allows the paint to adhere better.
  • Apply a coat of latex primer and let it dry.
  • Paint your base color. This color will peek through the distressed areas, so opt for a color that contrasts with your topcoat.
  • Once the base paint is dry, apply your top coat color.
  • After the top coat has dried, use fine-grit sandpaper to lightly distress areas where natural wear would occur, like edges and corners.
  • Finish with a clear sealer to protect your newly distressed piece.

Pro Tip: Always distress in the direction of the grain if you’re working on wood. It gives a more natural worn-out look.

Exploring the Color Washing Method

Color washing is a faux finish painting technique that gives walls a subtle layered look, perfect for an industrial-style home interior.

Materials Needed:

  • Base coat paint (latex or acrylic)
  • Top coat paint (latex or acrylic, a few shades darker than base coat)
  • Clear mixing glaze
  • Two paint brushes (3-inch width preferred)

Step-by-step Guide:

  • Paint your wall with a base coat and allow it to dry.
  • Mix your top coat paint with a clear mixing glaze. The glaze dilutes the paint color and increases its drying time, allowing you to create a soft, layered look.
  • Apply the glazed paint over the base coat using a criss-cross brush stroke.
  • While the glazed paint is still wet, use a clean, dry brush to softly blend the paint until you achieve a smooth, layered effect.

Pro Tip:  Always keep a wet edge while color washing. Work in small sections to prevent the glaze from drying out before you have the chance to blend it.

Personal Experience: My Journey with Industrial-Style Painting Techniques

In my professional career as a painter and decorator, I’ve had the privilege of transforming many interiors.

However, one experience that stands out is my own home renovation.

Like many of you, I too felt the allure of the industrial style, with its raw appeal and unique blend of modern and vintage elements.

The Project

The project began with the remodeling of our small loft in the heart of the city.

With its open layout, exposed brick walls, and concrete flooring, the loft was the perfect canvas to experiment with industrial-style painting techniques.

The Dry Brushing Experience

Dry brushing was the first technique I attempted.

I had a pair of old, tired-looking wooden doors that needed a makeover. 

Using a 2-inch flat brush and shades of grey acrylic paint, I began to dry brush over the original black color. The effect was immediate and captivating.

It gave the doors a weathered, textured look that added depth and character, echoing the industrial aesthetic of the loft space.

Adventures in Distressing

Next, I turned my attention to an antique wooden coffee table. I decided to use the distressing technique to enhance its vintage charm.

After preparing the table by sanding it down and applying a latex primer, I chose a deep charcoal grey as my base color and a muted ivory for the top coat.

Sanding down the edges and corners to reveal the base coat was an exciting process.

With each stroke, the table seemed to tell a richer story, enhancing the industrial vibe of my loft.

The Color Washing Experiment

Finally, I experimented with the color washing method on the loft’s main feature wall.

I chose a warm, earthy beige for the base coat and a darker, rust-like shade for the top.

Mixing the top coat with a clear glaze, I applied it in a criss-cross pattern, then softly blended it in.

The end result was a beautifully layered and textured wall that added a subtle depth and dynamism to the loft.

What I Learnt

What I learned from this personal journey is that mastering industrial-style painting techniques is not just about skill – it’s about patience, creativity, and an eye for detail.

The joy of creating something uniquely yours is immensely gratifying.

And the end result? A space that’s not only aesthetically pleasing but also imbued with a soulful character and personal touch.

In my professional career, I’ve applied these techniques in many client homes, each time tailoring them to suit individual tastes and preferences.

Each project is a new story, a new journey.

But the process and the passion remain the same – the desire to create spaces that reflect authenticity, rawness, and an appreciation for the beauty in imperfection.


Industrial-style painting techniques are all about capturing the raw, textural beauty of materials and time-worn surfaces.

It’s an artistic exploration of imperfection and authenticity.

With the right tools, paints, and a little practice, you can transform your home interiors into a stylish, industrial masterpiece.

As always, remember to enjoy the process, because that’s where the real magic lies.

Suggested Products:

Concrete Coffee Table: The Element Concrete Coffee Table by CB2 is a centerpiece that screams industrial style. Its sturdy, streamlined design is made from a blend of concrete and natural fibers. It not only provides a surface for daily activities but also grounds the room with its strong, earthy tones.

Steel Bookshelf: The Pottery Barn’s Tanner Metal & Glass Long Console Shelf in Matte Iron-Bronze finish combines glass with metal, giving you ample storage space while maintaining that raw, industrial feel.

Leather Sofa: The Timothy Oulton ‘Shabby’ Sectional Leather Sofa offers a vintage-inspired design, perfect for adding a touch of warmth and comfort to an industrial setting. The distressed leather provides a lived-in feel that complements the ruggedness of an industrial space.

Vintage Industrial Pendant Lights: The West Elm Industrial Pendant – Glass in bronze/antique brass is an excellent choice. The clear glass allows for maximum light, and the antique brass detailing adds a hint of industrial-era charm.

Metallic Bar Stools: The Toledo Adjustable Industrial Bar Stool from Restoration Hardware is a beautiful piece that harks back to early 20th-century drafting stools. The antiqued metal, utilitarian design and adjustable seat height make it a perfect fit for any industrial kitchen or dining area.

Brick Wallpaper: The Brewster Loft Red Brick Wallpaper gives the illusion of an exposed brick wall, a classic element of industrial design. It’s a great way to bring texture and character into your space without having to commit to actual brickwork.

Concrete Planters: The Kante Lightweight Concrete Modern Long Low Outdoor Planter, available on Amazon, is a perfect way to introduce some greenery into your industrial space. Its sleek, concrete design offers a striking contrast to the soft, organic shapes of plants.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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