How to Color Wash a Wall

Learn how to color wash walls from decorative artist Aliya Riaz in this Howcast painting tutorial.


Up next in How to Do Decorative Painting (27 videos)

Don't live another minute with vanilla walls. In these videos, decorative artist Aliya Riaz teaches you all kinds of painting techniques that will transform your home, like glazing, sponge painting, rag painting, color washing, and sgraffito painting. She'll also show you how to paint stripes on a wall, create plaid walls, and paint walls to look like leather, stone, brick, granite, bamboo, and other textures.



In our series on decorative paint techniques we're going to explore how to color wash. Color washing is a technique that was basically made very popular in Italy. You'll find it in a lot of the Tuscan walls. It's an absolutely beautiful technique. You just need a glaze, you need at least a three or four inch brush, and obviously your base color. So the key is to apply the glaze onto your base. You are going to be working in a cross hatch technique. The base I have here is very small, but when you're working on a wall you use your whole arm to make giant X's. So you don't get... I will actually show you how to do that on here, but I'm first getting all the glaze onto my surface. And color washing by and large is done in terracotta, so warm siennas, very Tuscan colors. As you can see, the cross hatching is becoming much bigger. So, having these brush strokes showing is a very, very desirable part of this technique. And if you do want to soften it I have a very special brush here called a badger brush which is made of 100 percent badger hair, and it is used to soften techniques, soften brush marks. And you use it in the direction of the cross hatching. It just gives a nice, mottled look to your finish. And there you have color washing in a single color glaze.


  • Aliya Riaz of Portfauxlio Inc.

    Aliya, a BBC broadcast journalist, is passionate about reinventing surfaces. One of the few formally-trained decorative artists in the States, Aliya accepts commissions from clients directly or through interior designers and architects. She loves to share her craft through teaching and is one of the core instructors of Dundean Studios. Contact her to arrange private or group classes.