Color washing is a type of faux-painting technique that can add texture and dimension to ordinary walls. The technique is also known as glazing and it can be applied to any painted surface, including ceilings, cabinets, and furniture. Color washing is a relatively easy process that involves the use of two or three paint colors. A lighter color can be layered under or over a darker color. The way you layer the colors and the technique used to apply the paint-glaze mixture will produce different results.
Before preparing your walls, the first thing you should do is pick up some sample boards in addition to your paint colors and glaze. It is very important to practice any type of decorative or faux-painting technique on a couple of sample boards before attempting the technique on your walls. This will help you see how the paint colors will work together and you can work on perfecting the technique to get the exact look that you want. Sample boards are available at most paint stores.
Choosing paint colors
Color choice may be one of the most challenging aspects of the project. With thousands of paint colors available, choosing even one color for a room can be difficult. If you want to keep the effect subtle, pick two or three colors from the same paint chip that are one or two shades lighter or darker. For example, you are looking at a gold paint chip, pick one of the lighter tints as your base color and use the next shade or two shades darker as your glaze colors.
You can also use a piece of artwork or a fabric sample from the existing décor in the room as inspiration for choosing colors. Just remember to choose different tints and shades, even if using different color family hues. In other words, don't use pale yellow layered with top coats of pale apricot and pale rose. Choose darker shades for the apricot and rose colors. Use an eggshell, flat, or satin paint sheen . A flat sheen on the top coat colors will produce a fresco or stucco effect.
As with any type of painting project, make sure the walls are properly prepared by repairing any chips, holes, or cracks with spackle that should be lightly sanded when dry. Use a primer on the wall if you are covering up a darker wall color; otherwise, roll on your base color with a three-eighth-inch nap paint roller. Allow the base color to dry overnight.
Preparing the glaze
Mix the paint and glaze together in a plastic bowl or container. The ratio will depend on the products you are using and the effect you want. Most mixes consist of one part glaze to one part water and one part paint or one part paint to four parts glaze. You can also use a 1:1 ratio of latex paint and wallpaper paste.
There are a number of different ways to add your glaze colors. You can use china bristle brushes, rags, sheepskin, cheesecloth, sea sponges, or a combination of these tools.
With a rag, cloth, or sponge technique, you will dampen the rag with water and then dip it into the glaze mixture. Apply glaze to the wall using random circular motions, as if you were washing the wall. Vary the direction and wiping technique. Use a dry paintbrush to gently work darker areas, making sure to feather out any harsh brushstrokes.
Another way to apply the glaze is by using a paintbrush with random, crisscross strokes. If applying two top coats in different colors, use a different brush for each color. Brush each color onto a small area, overlapping a little in certain spots and leaving empty space in others. Use a dry brush to further blend and soften the colors until you are satisfied with the result. If covering a large wall, you can use larger strokes making sure to use varying angles and including empty space between the strokes. Fill in some of the empty space with the other glaze color in varying angles. Once each glaze color is on the wall, dip a clean brush into some clear glaze and brush over the colors in short, crisscross strokes, blending and softening as you go.
Always remember to work in small areas, about 3 feet by 3 feet, when working with glaze. If lap lines occur between areas, you can fix them by mixing eight parts of your base color to one part water. Lightly brush the paint across the lines and then blend with a dry brush.