Introduction

Sponge-painted interior wall
Photo: Wendell T. Webber
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"Sponging additional color on a painted wall is a classic technique, with an effect that depends on the colors you choose," says decorative painter Ingrid Leess. "Here, I wanted to mimic a steel wall that had started to rust." To start, she put down a medium-gray base coat. Then she mixed equal parts rust-color satin latex with clear glaze, which lightens the color. Leess wrung out a wet sea sponge, dipped it in the colored glaze, squeezed out the excess, and patted this way and that. When the pattern was dry, she patted on a mix of clear glaze and dark gray, making sure the base and rust colors peeked through. "Colors that come together naturally work well—moss green and garden-urn gray, for example, plus yellow if you like—and layering them creates this interesting look," says Leess. Experiment on poster board and get a feel for it. Then check the effect while you work on the wall as color and texture interact.
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    Tools List

    • latex gloves
      Latex gloves
    • paintroller
      Paint roller and roller covers
    • paint cup and liners
      Cut bucket and liners
    • Natural Sea Sponge
      Large natural sea sponge.

      Get one with a good scattering of holes in different sizes so you can vary the pattern simply by turning it

    Shopping List

    Latex paint in three colors: a semigloss base coat and two colors in eggshell or matte to layer on top. Since the top coats get mixed with glaze, get about half as much of these colors as you would need to paint the whole room.

    Clear acrylic latex glaze to create top coats with extended working time