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How to Create Decorative Paint Techniques (page 2 of 2)

Learn how to create faux finishes such as sponging, graining, stenciling and distressing.

Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

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Sponging On Effects

Glaze or latex can be applied over a flat coat of paint to create a textured effect. Translucent glaze, bought ready-to-use or mixed as shown for color-washing, gives a more subtle effect than emulsion. Here, sponging on paint is described, although you can experiment with other "tools" — such as rags or bags. Whatever tool you use, the general technique is similar.

The first step is to paint a base coat of latex or eggshell onto the wall. When this is dry, pour a small amount of your topcoat of paint or glaze into a roller tray. Dip in your chosen tool and make sure it is well coated. Remove the excess paint by dabbing it off on the ridged section of the tray, then on some newspaper, until a light touch produces a mottled mark rather than a solid block of color. Begin to apply it to the wall in a random pattern, varying the side of the tool that you use for each mark. Build up the effect slowly rather than attempting a dense coat the first time. Go over the whole surface with one very light coat first, then check it for even coverage. Apply subsequent layers until the desired result is achieved.

Creating a random yet even pattern is harder than it looks and you may want to practice on some scrap paper first. However, mistakes can be corrected and evened out by applying some of the paint you used for the base coat with the effect tool you are using.

Sponging On
A sponge is one of the easiest tools for a paint-effect novice to get to grips with. Build up the finish in layers until you achieve your desired density of color. If different shades of the same color are used then the final effect will be subtle; if contrasting colors are used then you will get a bolder result.

Courtesy of DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Applying Colorwash

A colorwash provides depth of color and enhances textured and distressed surfaces. Create the effect by applying translucent glaze over an opaque base coat.

Water-based glazes are available and can be bought colored, or you can color them yourself using a special dye. For a greater range of colors, tint glaze with acrylic paint. Apply a second coat of glaze if more color is required, or work on the wet glaze to create one of the effects below. The finish is usually glossy.

Pour a small amount of dye into the glaze and mix it well with a length of clean dowel (Image 1). Test the color and adjust if required.

Spread glaze onto the wall, using random strokes (Image 2). Work quickly because if you let the edges dry they will show on the finished surface.

Creating Off Effects

The first step for these effects is a translucent color-wash of glaze that is applied over an opaque base coat. Use a vinyl silk or satin latex, eggshell, or even gloss for your base coat because this will prolong the drying time of the glaze while you work with it. You need to work quickly to complete a color-wash and create one of the “off” effects shown below before the glaze dries. If you are inexperienced at creating paint effects, or are tackling a particularly large area, get some help so that one person can apply the glaze while the other follows behind creating the effect. When using these techniques, replace or wash your tool clean often and keep plenty of newspaper and water or mineral spirit on hand. Complete the whole wall surface before taking a break.


Press a damp sponge into the glaze, and lift it off to leave a mottled impression. Move the sponge across the surface, pressing and removing the sponge in a random fashion. From time to time, rinse out the sponge to remove excess glaze.

Courtesy of DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited


Press a dampened, crumpled cloth into the glaze randomly across the wall surface. Rinse the rag regularly or have a few ready for when the one you are using becomes too soaked with glaze. Vary the effect by using different types of cloth or even plastic and paper bags.

Courtesy of DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited


Crumple a rag and form it into a sausage shape, then roll it down the wall surface to create a subtle effect resembling tumbling material. Rinse or change rags often. You can also rag-roll glaze or latex onto a wall for a similar but more dramatic effect.

Courtesy of DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited


By pressing the very ends of a specially designed stippling brush into the wet glaze, you can create a very finely textured, almost velvet-like finish. Pat the brush into the wall surface in a random pattern and make sure that you go straight up and down with no drag.

Courtesy of DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited


This creates a coarse-lined, textured finish running either vertically or horizontally. Hold a long-bristled dragging brush at a low angle, then draw it in a continuous stroke down or across the glazed surface. This effect can be used on wood as well as walls.

Courtesy of DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited


A wood-grain effect often used on MDF or melamine furniture, graining can be applied to any flat surface. Rock the special graining tool gently as you drag it down the wet glaze surface. Vary the pace of rocking to give different effects.

Courtesy of DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009