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Sponging Off


Sponging off involves laying down a solid color base coat and letting it dry, then rolling on a layer of glaze and blotting with a dry sponge to remove some of the glaze.


This technique gives the wall depth and complexity. The greater the distance on the color wheel between base and glaze colors, the more striking the effect. However, you may want the effect to be quiet and subtle. In that case, use colors closer together on the color wheel. Experiment until you discover the desired level of contrast.


The base coat can be of any sheen and is applied with a brush, pad or roller. The higher the gloss of the decorative coat, the longer you will have to work with the glaze. Apply the glaze with a genuine sea sponge for the most diverse and interesting result.




Step 1

Step 1: Preparing the Base

Preparing the Base


Sponging techniques give texture to a wall. However, they do not eliminate the need for proper room preparation.


Remove the furniture, or group it together in the center of the room. Protect floors and furniture with a drop cloth.


Repair cracks, dents and mars. If there are stains on the wall, discover and eliminate their source. Then scrub the wall with a TSP solution. Rinse thoroughly because TSP residue will prevent even the best primer from adhering.


Mask off the room with painter's masking tape. Apply a primer even if there is a finish coat of paint on the wall. Primers provide the ideal base for a new coat of paint and decorative glazing.


Step 2

Step 2: Prepare the Wall Prepare the Wall by scrubbing thoroughly, repairing surface mars, masking adjacent surfaces and priming.

Step 3

Step 3: Apply the Base Coat Apply the Base Coat with a 9-inch roller cover with a 3/8-inch nap. Allow the base coat to dry 24 hours.

Step 4

Step 4: Mix the Glaze Mix the Glaze in a ratio of 1 part paint and 4 parts glaze. Practice on test panels to determine the recipe.

Step 5

Begin the application. Time is critical in sponging off because you are removing glaze. The process stops when the glaze dries. Practice on sample boards until you are comfortable with the technique and with your pace. Also make sure your glaze recipe allows enough time to work. You can slow drying by adding gel retarder to the glaze.


Before you begin, soak the sponge with water. Squeeze out the excess water so the wetness of the sponge will be consistent from start to finish. This is important in maintaining the same effect from section to section.


Have a pile of clean dry cloths or lint-free paper towels handy to blot the sponge when it loads up with paint. Between sections rinse the sponge in a bucket to remove glaze, which tends to thicken inside the pores.


Carry the plate or bucket of glaze in your other hand, or keep it nearby on a chair or stepladder.


Extend your working time. The glaze may dry faster than you can sponge it off. If so, mist the glaze with a spray bottle of water to reactivate it. If this happens more than once, thin the glaze consistency with a little water or add more gel retarder.


If you find you have removed too much of the glaze in a certain spot, you can come back later and sponge on a little bit more.


Step 6 

Step 6: Apply the First Glaze Apply the First Glaze using a 9-inch roller cover with a 3/8-inch nap. Roll as close to the corner as you can.

Step 7 

Step 7: Tear Off a Small Piece Tear Off a Small Piece of sponge and use it to squeeze the glaze into the corners.

Step 8 

Step 8: Roll an Area of Wall Roll an Area of Wall about 3 feet square's much as you can sponge off in 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 9

Step 9: Press the Sponge On and Off Press the Sponge On and Off the wall, working from top to bottom. Rotate the sponge frequently.

Step 10 

Step 10: For a Random Pattern For a Random Pattern move your arm radially rather than working horizontally or vertically.

Step 11 

Step 11: Lot the Sponge Lot the Sponge on a rag occasionally. Rinse out the glaze before starting each new section.

Step 12 

Step 12: Step Away From the Wall Step Away From the Wall and look at the result after completing each section.

Step 13

Step 13: Begin the Next Section Begin the Next Section before the previous section dries. Always maintain a wet edge.