How to Color Wash Paint Walls with a Sponge

Paint color washing is an easy paint technique that give walls a translucent, watercolor type finish. A paint color wash with a sponge is considered a faux painting technique, and can be mastered by just about anyone.  It can add visual interest to flat wallboard walls, and can help bring out the texture in stucco or plaster walls. The sponge method of applying color to the wall, calls for a highly diluted glaze that is applied over existing low luster latex enamel or flat paint. The end result is a soft blending of colors, with some of the original wall color showing through. Paint color washing can be either lighter or darker than the base coat already on the wall, this is personal preference. For optimal results use two colors that are similar in tone. Neutrals are a good option.This technique also works quite well on painted furniture.

Tools and Materials you will need:

Paint Roller

Flat latex paint for the glaze

Latex paint conditioner, for sponge glaze


Several natural sea sponges

Rubber gloves

Masking or painter's tape

Drop cloths

Low luster latex enamel paint for base coat

To make the sponge color wash glaze:

Mix together the following:

1 part latex or acrylic paint and 8 parts of water in a pail. Stir until completely mixed together.

How to Apply the Glaze to the Wall:

1. Mask off any areas on the wall or woodwork that you don't want painted using masking or painter's tape.

2. Cover the floor with drops cloths.

3. Apply a base coat of paint to the walls; use a low luster or flat latex enamel paint. Use a paint roller to apply the paint. Allow to dry completely.

4. Immerse the sea sponge in the paint/glaze mixture in the pail. Wring out any excess solution while still leaving the sponge very wet.

5. Start in a low corner of the wall, wipe the color wash solution onto the wall with short, curved strokes. Overlap the strokes, and vary the direction of the strokes as well. Work in 3 X 3 foot sections.

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5, moving upward and outward until the entire wall has been color washed. Allow the wash to dry completely. Apply a second coat for a deep color result.

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