Introduction

painting, color wash
Photo: Kolin Smith
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You could spend days with a float and a trowel trying to make your walls look perfect. But where’s the fun in that? You’d be much better off if you just embrace that old messy plaster and play up its rough surface and worn-out paint. Or if you’re in a new house, infuse your too-pristine drywall with a little old-world character. All it takes is a little paint trickery.

With a few brushes and a series of complementary hues, you can mimic walls created long before the paint roller came along. As This Old House senior technical editor Mark Powers shows, brushing on your colors will hide imperfections—or create them with intention on smooth walls. What you’ll end up with when you’re done is a room that’s so delightfully imperfect, it’s perfect.
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    Tools List

    • tarp
      Canvas and tarps
    • putty knife
      Putty knife
    • paintroller
      Roller frame
    • paint pan
      Paint tray
    • bucket
      Paint bucket
    • paintbrush
      1 1/2-inch angled sash brush
    • synthetic brush
      Two 2 1/2-inch polyester-nylon paintbrushes, and a 4-inch polyester paintbrush to dry-brush the finish

    Shopping List

    1. Latex Paint: You need to choose three colors: a base coat in semigloss and two layer colors in eggshell or matte. The layer colors get mixed with glaze, so get about half as much of these two shades as you would need to paint the whole room.

    2. Latex Glaze to smooth the effect and create a translucent top coat. One gallon is enough for a 10-by-10-foot room. 3. Spackling Compound to repair the walls before painting.

    4. 150-Grit Sandpaper

    5. Primer to spot-prime any spackled areas.

    6. Tray Liners and Bucket Liners

    7. 3/8-inch Nap Roller Cover