Friday, March 26, 2010


Brenda McPeek’s recent class featured the RS Line. These products vex finishers. “What does RS mean?” “Why is it different then the other products? How can RS Sandstone be that different from regular Sandstone?” “Why is the line Gold Label?” In later posts, I will compare a single RS product with its closest relative in the Silver Label line. But I thought it might be helpful to know a little about the RS line as a whole.

“Why is it called RS?” RS stands for Reactive Series and it is what makes the whole product line unique. An activator is used with the products that gives you the ability to tear, tighten, pop, and manipulate your finish all while the material sets very slow. RS also happens to be the initials of Faux Effects founder, Raymond Sandor.

“How many products are in the RS Line?” There is the RS Activator, RS Stone (in several different grades from coarse to extra fine), RS Plaster, RS Glaze, RS Low Viscosity Glaze, RS Crete (also in several grades), RS Sandstone, RS Sandstone with Flakes, RS Travertino, and RS Water Wax. There is a RS Granite but it looks more like speckled sandpaper then granite.

“Do all the products “react”?” No. We don’t use the RS Activator with the Water Wax or the Crete. The RS label was attached to expedite the copyright and patent process.

“Can you use the products without the RS Activator?” First, don’t get the RS Activator confused with our Activator II which smells strongly of alcohol. RS Activator has no smell or taste (I know because I drank some in Vero thinking it was water!) We use several of the products without the RS Activator. We like the RS Plaster for shaped finishes because it dries really slowly and the RS Stone finer grades make nice tight trowel backfills for many finishes. RS Travertino is another one that we don’t activate much.

“So why use the RS Activator?” This is what separates the line from everything else. It may take 3 coats of the regular Sandstone to create the depth achieved by 1 layer of RS Sandstone. You may manipulate the application method of the RS Activator to create a variety of effects just within one product.

While most products flatten on a wall while you work them, the RS products thicken with the RS Activator. This allows them to “stand” over the surface making them a good choice for orange peel or light knock-down surfaces.

I find that the RS Activator gives me a similar look as the addition of Lime Slag-where it cracks and crumbles. But my bottle of RS Activator has a longer shelf life then the Lime Slag and the RS mixed product has a 3-day shelf life (we’ve kept it alive longer) while my lime slag mixed stuff turns to rock within a day. I can use the RS Activator without mixing it into my product giving me more control then the Lime Slag mixes.

RS products are Gold Label because there are tricks and techniques to making the line work.

“If this is so great why would you use the Everything Else?” To our eyes, some of the RS products are not as “refined” looking as their counterparts. For example, the RS glaze doesn’t have the subtly of a Faux Crème Clear mix. None of the RS products come pre-tinted. Because of the slow dry time, it may take overnight to proceed to your next finish layer. This is very true working on an exterior facing wall in winter-we often had little cracks from the top drying faster then the underneath. Some people like the cracks or they can be back-filled with a tight skim. Because stuff dries slow, people that putz with a finish may not know when to stop-rub on/rub off. If you add too much RS Activator, you have a new bucket doorstop. The per gallon cost is the same as other FE plasters but you have the additional expense of the RS Activator (although a little goes a long way).

We love the RS Series for:

Unique Finishes like the Travertino and the RS Sandstone with Flake.

Crumbly Old Wall Treatments with cracks, pits, and tears.

The ability to float colors and powders in the Low Viscosity Glaze that create realistic ceramic, glass, and stone finishes.

Products used in combination with traditional FE products to enhance a finish.


  1. When will you be holding another Rs Crete (or series) class?
    The work here is beautiful!

  2. Really great post, very useful. I've been doing plasters for 20 years in San Diego, having taken many of the Faux Effects classes but have yet to use any of their RS series product line. I've found using sandstone/lime slag for the cracked linen effect can be finicky at best for consistent results, so the RS sounds like a more reliable formula. Vaughn