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Spice Up Your Home with a Few Paint Tricks
Print 2007-12-10 12:41  

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By Paul Bianchina

You've seen them do it on shows like "Trading Spaces" and "Extreme Makeover." You may have even seen it at a friend's house. And now you've decided it's time to move away from those plain white walls and try something different. With some basic tools, a couple of cans of paint, and a little experimental spirit, you can dress up one wall or your entire house with some simple special painting effects.

The materials listed here should all be available at home centers, paint stores and larger department stores. With any of these techniques, you might want to practice in a closet or on a large sheet of cardboard or plywood first, to get a feel for the process and to see if you're happy with the color and texture. Also, your hands will be getting up close and personal with the paint, so a couple of pairs of disposable gloves are also a worthwhile investment.


Sponging is probably one of the most popular and most enjoyable of the special effects painting techniques. To get started, you need two or more colors of paint, a paint tray, a natural sea sponge and some paper towels or old newspapers.

To begin, paint the wall with the base color. This will actually not be the predominate color when you're done, but rather more of an accent color that shows through gaps in the sponged-on color. Let this coat dry before proceeding.

Next, dip your sponge in water and ring it out so that it's just damp, which helps keep the sponge from picking up too much paint. Dip the sponge into the second paint color, blot it slightly against the paper towel to remove excess paint, and then gently press the sponge against the wall. Keep your touch light to create a subtle pattern of paint, as opposed to pressing hard or with too much paint on the sponge, with blurs the pattern too much.

Don't overdo it by trying to cover too much of the base coat at once. Instead, try and achieve a light pattern of paint texture that has a look you like. Do the entire wall, and then if you feel that too much of the base coat is still visible, you can go back over it a second time. Allow this second color to dry completely before going back over it with a third color if desired. If the sponge will not reach into the corners, use a small paint brush to dab paint into these areas in a pattern that matches the sponge.


Ragging is similar to sponging in technique, but the finished look is different, with a slightly heavier look that resembles some types of fabric. Once again, begin by applying a base coat color to the wall and allowing it to dry completely. You'll want to use a clean, absorbent, lint-free rag or towel that has some nap to it, like a washcloth. The type of cloth you use and how you hold it will determine the finished texture effects.

Dip the rag in water, wring it out, then ball the rag up loosely in your hand and gently dip it into the second paint color. Blot off the excess on a paper towel, then touch the rag against the wall. Repeat this, re-gripping the rag as you go, to create different textures. Re-dip the rag in the paint as soon as it begins to lose the pattern you like. Ragging is usually done with only two colors, but you can add a third if you like – just make sure each color is completely dry before moving on to the next one.


As the name implies, this technique will leave thin wash of top-coat color over the base color, almost at though the wall has aged or been worn from use. Washing is best done with just one color over the base coat.

Paint on the base color and allow it to dry. Using the same type of rag or towel used for ragging, dip the rag in water and wring it out, then dip it into the paint. You can actually allow the rag to pick up a little more paint with this technique, but you do want to be sure that you do not have an excess amount on your gloves that could smear onto the wall.

Use the rag to apply the top color coat to the wall by actually wiping on the paint with a swirling motion – almost like you're washing the wall with soap and water - rather than dabbing it on as was done with the earlier techniques. Continue "washing" the wall with paint until the rag begins to dry and starts taking some of the paint back off. When you have removed a sufficient amount of paint to achieve the look you want, re-dip the rag in paint and move on to another section of the wall. The important thing here is to try and achieve some level of consistency with the finished look, rather than leaving large areas with a lot of paint on them and other areas with much less.
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Categories: Painting, Interior Finish


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