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How to Color Wash When You Paint

Color washing is a two-step process that starts by covering your wall with a base coat and then applying a glaze to give your walls a great new look.


  • Step 1: Choose color Find ideas by looking at decorating magazines. Then choose complementary paint colors for your base paint and secondary paint, which will set the mood of your room.
  • Step 2: Prep area Prep the area by washing the walls. Place a drop cloth over the floor and furniture, sand rough areas, and tape the doors and trim. Make sure the room is well-ventilated.
  • Step 3: Apply base coat Paint the room with the base coat and allow it to dry for at least 24 hours. Next, mix equal amounts of the secondary paint and wallpaper paste to create a glaze.
  • TIP: Pre-mixed glaze can be used instead of wallpaper paste. Use four parts glaze to one part paint.
  • Step 4: Dampen the walls Wet the sponge with water and dampen a small, irregular area of the wall.
  • Step 5: Apply glaze Use your paintbrush to apply the glaze over the dampened area using crisscross strokes. Allow the base coat to show through. Continue dampening and glazing the wall in small, manageable sections.
  • Step 6: Use dry-brush technique Minimize brush lines by feathering the wet glaze with a clean, dry brush. Allow the paint to dry.
  • Step 7: Transfer paint Transfer the paint to an airtight plastic container for later use on touch-ups. Enjoy the new look of your walls.
  • FACT: Did you know? According to the Guinness World Records, in 2008 students from China's Luoyang Normal University set the record for creating the largest painting by numbers at nearly 5,491 square feet.

You Will Need

  • Decorating magazines
  • Base paint color
  • Secondary paint color
  • A drop cloth
  • Sandpaper
  • Safe-release tape
  • A roller
  • Wallpaper paste
  • A sponge
  • Water
  • Two 4-inch polyester paintbrushes
  • A plastic container
  • Glaze (optional)

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