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Decorating Ideas

Faux Finishing

Sponge Painting

You'll find sponging a quick and easy faux finishing technique, creating colorful walls from a dappled, mottled look to that of marble. Your design can be subtle or bold. The variations are unlimited, depending on the number of colors used, the contrast between colors, and the technique you use while sponging.

1. Apply base coat.
Use a quality flat latex paint such as Hirshfield's Platinum Ceramic Matte, Pratt & Lambert's Accolade Interior Flat Enamel or Bemjamin Moore's Regal Wall Satin. Two coats may be necessary on some colors. For an eggshell finish use Hirshfield's Platinum Ceramic Eggshell, Pratt & Lambert's Accolade Interior Velvet or Bemjamin Moore's Regal Aqua Velvet. When sponging on furniture or woodwork a semi-gloss or gloss latex paint is recommended. Make certain that all surfaces not to be painted are taped off and well protected. Do not leave masking tape on overnight.

2. Sponged-on colors.
Once the base coat is dry, you're ready to sponge paint. Use the same quality latex paint used for the base coat. You'll also need a roller tray, plenty of newspaper, and natural sponges torn into manageable chunks. (A natural sponge produces the best pattern on the wall. Synthetic sponges leave hard-edged identical impressions that don't flow together.) Use the roller tray to hold your paint. First, dampen the natural sponge in water and squeeze dry. Dip just the outer texture of the sponge into the paint. Then, dab and blot off excess paint on newspaper or rags. The sponge should be fairly dry of paint. You don't want to leave little blobs of paint on the wall, but you do want the texture of the sponge to show. Now dab the sponge on the wall, working at a measured pace, turning and twisting it to vary the pattern left by the sponge. Rinse sponges periodically in warm water and squeeze dry. While the pattern will be quite irregular, strive to keep the amount of paint applied consistent for a uniform appearance. Use a small piece of sponge and an edger to work into tight spaces such as ceiling lines, inside corners, around door jams and window moldings. A cotton swab or a dry paint brush can be used to stipple or dot color into very tight spaces. Finish an entire wall before going on to the next.

Always experiment on sample boards painted with your base coat color to find color combinations you like – and practice your sponging technique before starting on the wall.

Sponge on your first color working in full wall increments to achieve balance of color. Do all four walls and then repeat the process for any additional colors. When applying more than one color, use the darkest color (or lightest color if sponging over a dark base coat) first. Use the least amount of this color. Use a few more dabs with the second color. The third color should overlap everything, leaving no glaringly blank areas. A third color which is close to the base coat color works well to blend in the first two colors, and evens out the overall visual texture. Be sure to let paint dry thoroughly between applications.

When sponging only one color over a base coat, go with a monochromatic scheme close in value (tone on tone) for a rich, subtle look. If you want more punch, use contrasting colors (such as blue over yellow) or sponge on two different colors to create a dramatic effect. Remember, you can always soften it with a third sponging in a color close to the base coat color. It isn't necessary to thin latex paint when sponging. However, to achieve a more translucent effect, thin paint to desired consistency using Blend & Glaze and equal parts water.

Latex paint for base coat
Latex paint for sponged colors
Roller tray
Brush & roller for base coat
Blend & Glaze Latex Formula
Natural Sea Sponge
Masking tape