Project Guide

How to Sponge Paint

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Prepare the Wall for Faux Painting
A person's hand using a sponge to clean a wall to prep for sponge painting walls.
  • 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.
Apply the Base Coat
A paint roller in use for applying the base coat of paint to a wall.
  • Satin or semi-gloss paints allow a longer working time for the glaze than flat or eggshell paint.
  • Pour the desired paint into a paint tray.
  • Apply with a 9-inch sponge paint roller cover with a 3/8-inch nap.
  • Allow the base coat to dry for 24 hours.
Mix the Glaze
Glaze being mixed into a can of paint.
  • Mix the glaze in a ratio of one part paint and four parts glaze.
  • Practice on test panels to determine the recipe that will create your desired color.
Paint Application - Sponging On Method
A person's hand dipping a painting sponge into a container of paint to begin application.
  • 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.
Add More Colors
A paint roller in use applying base paint color to a wall taped off with painter's tape.
  • 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.
Start Sponging
A hand using a sponge to apply paint in the sponging on method of sponge painting.
  • 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 Work
A person reviewing their painting work.
  • 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.
Paint Application - Sponging Off Method
A person's hand dipping a painting sponge into a container of paint to begin application.
  • 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.
Sponge Off Glazing
A person using the sponge off glazing technique.
  • 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.
Create a Random Pattern
A person creating a random pattern with a painting sponge on a wall.
  • 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.
Review and Touch Up Your Work
A person reviewing their sponge painting work.
  • 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.