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Colorwashing Walls

Transform a plain room into a colorful and decorative space, by using paint and glaze to colorwash walls.

More in Painting

apply water base varnish
  • Time

    Two Days

  • Price Range

    $50 - $100

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Prep the Walls and Apply Primer

Remove all nails and repair any damaged or cracked areas on the walls. Prime as needed.

Tape off all baseboard edges, ceiling edge, trim, window and door frames. Remove all electrical and light switch cover plates. Cover furniture and floor areas with drop cloths.

prep walls and apply primer

Step 2: Apply the Finish Base Color

Choose and apply the appropriate eggshell finish base color. Allow to fully dry for six to eight hours.

Step 3: Mix the Glaze

Mix your glaze. You can use tints or acrylic paints. In a large bucket, add about two cups glaze coat and water (1/2 cup) with your colorant. The amount of glaze needed depends on the size of the area you are working on. If a large area, then use a full can of glazing liquid. It is always better to have extra glaze left over, than not enough.

Optional: Mix in 1/4 to 1/2 cup water based varnish to act as a hardener for your glazed surface and prevent color bleeding when washing or applying additional layers of glaze.

Testing your glaze: Experiment with fluidity and color strength by sampling a small swatch of your glaze on the wall surface and softening out with a dry brush. Adjust colorant as you see fit. Don't dilute glaze too much, as this will be your 'master glaze color.'

Place a portion of the prepared glaze color in a bucket. Add water slowly until you reach a consistency similar to cream. Experiment with this loose glaze on the wall to determine color depth and ease of mobility over wall area. Fill the other bucket full with water.

Step 4: Prepare the Sponges

Prepare two sponges by rounding corners and edges. Ordinary household sponges will do fine (1-1/2 inch thick and approx 6 inches x 4 inches). When glazing, always work from top to bottom. If you start at the bottom and work upward, any drips or spills occurring can damage already treated lower portion finish.

Step 5: Apply the Paint and Glaze

Use one sponge for the water and one for the glaze color. Starting at the top of the wall, take sponge one with the water and dampen surface. Work in one area at a time, moving methodically forward over wall surface. Saturating the surface first allows the glaze to go on fluidly and evenly.

With sponge two, dipped in the glaze, rub over damped area of wall and spread glaze. Work evenly over area for full coverage. Vary the pressure applied to the sponge to leave areas with slightly denser concentrations of glaze. Continue to soften glaze color working in a criss-cross manner until desired smoothness is achieved. Work quickly and conscientiously, keeping exposed edges dampened with water.

Move to next area and repeat. Do not put glaze on previous edge but rather apply within one inch or so and soften into previous edge with sponge or dry brush. At corners, apply glaze to within 1/2 to 1 inch of edge and with a dry brush, work into corner, then soften and smooth with light, gentle movements.

apply the paint and glaze

Step 6: Apply a Water-Base Varnish

To protect the surface, a water-based varnish, such as latex varnish , may be applied after color-washed surfaces have dried completely (24 hrs). For wall surfaces it is recommended to use flat (matte) finish, eggshell or low-luster finish varnishes.

apply water base varnish

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