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Decorating Ideas

Faux Finishing


Colorwashing is a simple decorative painting technique that gives walls a subtle texture and rich glow. Thin, translucent layers of color (latex wash) are floated over a white or off white basecoat and blended together with a rag or dry brush. A light colored wash applied over a darker basecoat will produce a frosty effect.

1. Apply base coat.
Use a quality flat latex. (Hirshfield's Platinum Ceramic Matte, Pratt & Lambert's Accolade Interior Flat or Benjamin Moore's Regal Wall Satin are ideal.) Two coats may be necessary on some colors.

2. Formula for latex wash.
Use an eggshell latex (Platinum Ceramic Eggshell, P&L Accolade or Regal Aqua Velvet) for color and thin with water. Your color will be much lighter once it is thinned. Experiment to find what works best for you. Start with:

1 part eggshell latex paint
9 parts water (less may be used if desired)
Stir this mixture frequently during use.

3. Prepare for colorwashing.
Use 4" Easy Mask masking tape at ceiling and baseboard. Your latex wash is going to be runny and a bit messy, but it is this thin quality that produces the wonderful translucence. IMPORTANT: Take extra time to be certain that surfaces not to be painted are taped off and well protected. Use masking tape and plastic drop cloths at baseboard and floor. (Do not leave masking tape on overnight.) Cover all heat registers to prevent your latex wash from drying too quickly. In this technique you'll be using cotton or cotton-blend rags to remove some of the latex wash while it is still wet. Have a good supply of rags on hand. (Other tools–sponge, cheesecloth, dry brush–work, too. Experiment, but be consistent.)
HINT: To slow down the drying time of your latex wash wet down the wall area with a damp sponge.

4. Colorwashing.
This technique can be done alone or with a partner. When working with a partner, it is best that one partner be assigned to applying the latex wash while the other uses the rag to remove and manipulate the wash. This way the appearance will be more consistent. Work quickly in small sections at a time no larger than 3' x 3'. Starting at the ceiling line, apply the latex wash in irregular, haphazard strokes using a sponge brush or paint pad applicator. Next, with a dry cotton rag, wipe off some of the latex wash while it is still wet. Use random strokes leaving more latex wash in some areas, less in others, blending in as you go.Wipe off the latex wash until the desired effect is achieved. Work from corner to corner, starting at the ceiling and moving down to the floor in small sections, repeating the process of applying the latex wash, then wiping it off with a dry rag. As an option apply a second latex wash following the same steps above, after 24 hours drying time. This will add new dimension to your colorwashing.

5. Allow yourself plenty of time.
It isn't necessary to complete an entire room in one day. However, once you start on a wall, be prepared to finish that wall

6. Practice first.
Remember to use sample boards (all professionals do) for developing the desired colorwashing effect.

Eggshell Latex for base coat
Latex Paint for wash color(s)
4" Easy Mask Tape
Lint free Cotton Rags or
Dry Brush
Sponge Brush
Containers for wash colors
Rubber gloves
Plastic drop cloth
Brush, roller & paint tray for base coat.

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