How Do I Color Wash My Walls?

How_Do_I_Color_Wash_My_WallsColor washing is a popular and artistic faux finishing technique.  It creates a rich look reminiscent of watercolor paintings.  Depending on technique and colors used, color washing can give your walls anything from subtle depth to dramatic visual textures.

What is Color Washing?

In color washing, there are two or more colors visible, blended and layered together so that there are no sharp lines or contrasts between the colors.  First, there is a solid color as a base coat. Next, one (or more) additional color is diluted with glaze and painted over the base coat. However, the new layers are not solid, allowing the color below to show through.

What do I need to Color Wash?

Part of the beauty of color washing is the endless variety of techniques and tools which can be used.  Being an art form, there are almost as many ways to color wash a wall as there are walls that have been color washed.  Some people use rollers and rags, others use brushes and sea sponges, while still others use tools especially designed for color washing, and a few brave painters use paper towels. You can use one, two, or three glaze colors as well as a base coat.  While the possibilities are endless, the same basic principles apply to all the forms.

You can experiment with many different implements, but here is a basic list of what you will need to get started with color washing:

  • 2 colors of paint (1 for the base coat, and 1 which will be mixed with glaze)
  • Glaze
  • Paint Roller
  • Paint brush
  • Softening brush (or cheesecloth)

How Do I Color Wash My Walls?

Color_Washing_BlueThe first step in color washing is to create your base coat.  This layer is like a canvas background that you will be painting on.  Prepare your surfaces and tape edges as you would for any paint job.  Then use a roller to apply one or two coats of paint in whichever color you have chosen for your base coat.  Allow plenty of time for the base coat to dry, preferably overnight.  Any finish can be used for the base coat, but a semi-gloss is often recommended.

Next, you will mix your glaze with your second paint color. Apply this in a bold “X” stroke, and then going back over your large “X” with smaller x-strokes to soften, blur, and spread the color.  You will want your brush strokes to be random and varied, and to allow the base color to continue to show through in patches.  You can further soften and blend by lightly passing a slightly damp cheese cloth or a dry paint brush over the surface.  Glazes dry more slowly than paints. This gives you more time to achieve the look you want, but you will need to be careful to always work with the glaze still damp. Continue with this pattern until your entire surface is done. When applying your glaze, always start in the least noticeable corner, and work across the wall or around the room. Work from top to bottom on your wall, so that drips will not run over areas you have already completed.

Finally, wait for your walls to dry and enjoy your beautiful creation!

Professional Interior Painting Contractors

If you like the idea of color washed walls or other faux finishes, but decide you do not want to tackle the job yourself, please contact Brennan’s Custom Painting.  We are a professional interior painter, serving New Jersey, Philadelphia and Northern Delaware.

Photo Credits: BM   DFP

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