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What is Color Washing?

By Harriette Halepis
Updated May 16, 2024
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Color washing is a faux painting technique that is often used by professionals and homeowners alike. In order to create a color wash, a glaze is mixed with paint to produce a washed-out effect. Typically, color washing is applied over a solid paint color, though other techniques involving color washing have recently emerged.

The idea behind color washing is to soften a base color by applying a thin glaze. This painting method helps to create the feeling of warmth within a room, which is often hard to achieve with objects alone. The different tools used to apply color wash to a wall determine the outcome of any color washing project. Rags, sponges, and even leaves can be used to create unique shapes, textures, and designs on a color washed wall.

Nearly any paint color can be mixed with a glaze in order to color wash a wall. In addition, color washing techniques can also be applied to furniture, floors, and nearly any object that needs a coat of paint. While hiring a professional painter to color wash a wall is not necessary, it is wise to take a faux painting course prior to attempting this kind of paint job. Various home hardware stores throughout the world offer color washing workshops.

Before attempting to paint any wall using a color wash method, make sure to begin with a clean surface. Washing a wall with soap and water, and then drying the area thoroughly is the best way to achieve a dirt-free wall. Also, make sure to strip a wall of any wallpaper, and cover any blemishes or holes with wall putty.

A clean smooth wall will make the best canvas for any color wash application. It is also recommended that anyone new to the color wash approach begin with a small surface before spreading paint on an entire wall. This way, any mistakes can be easily repaired prior to painting a total wall area.

Done correctly, a wall that has been color washed can easily take on an antique appearance. Likewise, some washing techniques will create a faux stucco or stone finish. Frequently, color washing is used to create an interesting kitchen back splash in lieu of tiles or other materials. Due to its versatility, the color wash painting technique is extremely popular around the globe. To find the right kind of paint for this type of faux finish, speak with a sales representative at a local paint store.

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