How to Sponge Paint
Time Required: Over 1 day
Sponge painting is one of the easiest techniques you can use to give a wall texture, depth and complexity. This guide will show you how to sponge paint, including preparing your walls for a sponge painting project and demonstrating the techniques for both sponging paint on and off your walls.
Tip: Before taking on any painting project, including sponge painting walls, be sure you have all the necessary paint supplies. Remove your furniture or group it together in the center of the room. Protect floors and furniture with a drop cloth and mask off the room with painter's masking tape.
- Put on rubber gloves, latex gloves or work gloves to protect your hands.
- Repair any cracks, dents and mars on your paint surface using putty or caulk, smoothing over with a putty knife.
- Using a paint roller, apply a primer even if there is a finished coat of paint on the wall. Primers provide the ideal base for a new coat of paint and decorative glazing.
- 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.
- Once dry, wipe down the wall to eliminate dust.
- Soak the paint sponge in water, then squeeze out the excess 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, as well as allowing the sponge to absorb a full load of glaze.
- Pour a small amount of mixed glaze onto a ceramic or plastic plate that you can place on a stepladder shelf or carry in your hand.
- You can either dip the sponge into the mixture or brush the paint onto the surface of the sponge.
- Blot excess paint onto a piece of cardboard if necessary.
- The sponging technique offers a wonderful opportunity to use the color wheel in selecting color.
- Start with a monochromatic scheme, and enhance that scheme by sponging on a different tint or shade of the base color. For added dimension, sponge on an analogous color.
- If you want to make a bolder statement, sponge on a complementary hue or generate some subtle excitement with colors that form a triad on the color wheel.
- If you add a color that you don't like, sponge over it with another color.
- Begin first in an upper corner, prime the sponge with water and squeeze out the excess.
- Tear off a small piece of sponge to reach inside corners.
- Start sponging from the top of the wall to the bottom in a strip as wide as your arm is long.
- Move your arm in a radius not in a square pattern, rotating the sponge occasionally.
- Keep a clean rag handy to blot the sponge before starting each new section.
- Review your results after each section and add more glaze as necessary.
- If you come across a spot with too much glaze, go back after the glaze dries and sponge on more base.
- If you decide to add any additional color(s) be sure to apply after your current glaze color dries.
- Time is critical in sponging off because you must work before the glaze dries. Practice on sample boards before sponge painting walls so you will be 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. In a pinch, you can mist the glaze to keep it from drying out with water from a spray bottle.
- Have a pile of clean, dry cloths or lint-free paper towels handy to blot the sponge when it loads up with paint. Between completed 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.
- Roll as close to the corner as you can using a 9-inch roller and cover with a 3/8-inch nap.
- Use a small piece of sponge as a sponge paint brush to apply glaze into corners.
- Roll paint on about 3 square feet or as much as you can sponge off in 10 to 15 minutes.
- Working from top to bottom, press the sponge on and off the wall.
- Rotate the sponge frequently.
- To create a random pattern, move your arm radially rather than working horizontally or vertically.
- Occasionally blot your sponge on a clean rag. Rinse out the glaze before starting each new section.
- Start the next section before the previous section dries. Always maintain a wet edge.
- Step away from the wall occasionally and look at the result after completing each section.
- If you find you have removed too much of the glaze in a certain spot, you can use your sponge paint brush to add more to even it out.