Painting Techniques

By Scarlett (Australia)

Using Different Painting Techniques

Walls in a room serve as a bland background or as an exciting element in home décor. Different painting techniques can add texture, warmth and depth to walls in ways that enhance the room’s overall style. What’s more, many painting techniques are easy to accomplish, and the results will make family and friends think a high-priced professional did the job.

Color Washing

Color washing creates a pleasing blend of muted, subtle colors on a wall. This effect works best when using two similar colors of satin-finish paint. (Satin finish is also known as eggshell). One color may be a shade darker than the other, or they could be colors of the same intensity that are next to each other on the color wheel.

Apply the lighter shade of paint first using standard tools such as brushes and rollers. Let this coat dry thoroughly. Then, use a damp cloth to dip into the darker shade, rubbing it onto the wall in swirls with even pressure. Overlapping swirls will create various intensities of the wash and let some of the undercoat be seen.


Sponging resembles color washing, but the end result is a much deeper, more textured effect. A natural sea sponge is the painting tool most commonly used. However, other applicators such as a synthetic kitchen sponge, a newspaper, a crumpled-up rag, a plastic bag, or any other materials with interesting surfaces can be used to achieve this look.

For sponge painting, select choose two colors similar in shade. Unlike color washing where the paint finish is the same, for sponging choose a base color in a flat finish and a topcoat that’s a satin finish. For a shiny look, combine 3 parts of the topcoat color with 1 part glaze and mix well. Use rollers and brushes to apply the base coat and allow it to dry. Then dampen whatever painting tool is being used. Dip the tool into the topcoat paint, dabbing lightly onto a rag to blot away any excess.

Now the fun begins! “Sponge” the paint or topcoat mixture onto the wall a section at a time. Vary the texture by applying the paint lightly in some areas and heavier in others. You can even overlap some sponging if desired. Be sure to move and turn the painting tool slightly each time you sponge to create a random pattern on the wall.


Combing creates a lined texture that looks almost like wallpaper. It’s accomplished by applying a colored glaze over a different colored basecoat. This is one technique for which there’s a specific tool, a paint comb. These paint application tools come in different widths and are usually available at most paint and home improvement stores.

Paint the base coat onto a section of the wall and let dry. Apply the glaze and immediately run the comb through the wet glaze only once. You can make straight vertical or horizontal lines, wavy lines or even swirl the comb if desired. If you don’t like the effect of that wall section, repaint and try again.


Leathering is a painting technique that looks amazingly authentic, especially when done in shades of brown resembling leather. To achieve this look, use scrap paper such as brown paper bags, gift-wrap tissue or even newspaper, torn into random shapes and sizes. Apply the paper scraps to the walls with wallpaper paste, allowing them to overlap slightly. Smooth them down to remove any air bubbles, but wrinkles or cracks in the paper are desirable, because they help achieve the leathery look. Once the papers have dried on the wall, paint over them with a mixture of equal amounts of paint and glaze, applying as many coats as you want.

Any of these simple painting techniques can create walls of distinction in any room of the home.

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