Sponge painting can give bland walls a more dramatic texture by emphasizing the irregularities, leaving the wall with light and dark patches that seamlessly fuse together in a controlled manner. It’s these blemishes and imperfections that give sponge-painted walls so much character. To achieve this effect, you don’t have to hire a professional; all you need is the right paint and tools.
Before you start sponge-painting your walls, hone your technique on other materials, such as old sheets of wood or plasterboard. What makes sponge painting so distinctive is the duel layering, so feel free to explore different color combinations in order to achieve the look you desire. Experiment with different intensities, paints and even strokes.
Repair Your Walls
Use a gypsum- or cellulose-based filler to fill in any nail or screw holes. Place a small amount of filler on a putty knife and lightly scrap it against the divots or holes, ensuring it's as flush as possible with your walls. When it has dried, sand it down with a 120-grit sandpaper.
Make a homemade cleaning solution by mixing 3 teaspoons of laundry detergent with 1 gallon of water. Wipe the solution on the walls in a circular motion with a lint-free cloth. This will remove any dust or debris and help the paint to stick more effectively. Wipe down the walls with a damp cloth to remove any excess detergent and wait until it dries before continuing.
For your base coat, use a satin, flat, eggshell or semigloss interior paint. To achieve a darker look in the room, choose a light undercoat for the base layer and a darker tone for the second layer. Painting is a messy job, so lay tarps over the floor to prevent staining the carpet.
Things You'll Need:
- Satin, flat, eggshell or semigloss interior paint
- Painter's tape
- Paint roller
- Natural sea sponge
- Plastic or rubber gloves
Tape Off the Edges
Tape off the trim, window and door frames with painter's tape. Press 3 to 4 inches of tape against the wall so it's flush with the edge. Unroll roughly 6 inches of tape at a time and ensure it's secure before moving on. Once you've taped off the whole room, press it in place with a five-in-one or similar tool to ensure it's firmly attached-- this will prevent any bleed from the paint.
Apply the Base Coat
Apply the base coat of paint using a roller. Remove the masking tape within one hour of painting the room by pulling it off at a 45- to 90-degree angle. Leave the room to dry overnight.
Mix the Paint
Retape the edges and rinse your natural sea sponge in water for a few minutes to soften it. Mix 1 part of your top color of paint with 4 parts glaze. Squeeze your sea sponge dry and dip it in your glaze until it’s completely saturated.
Apply the Glaze
Lightly blot the surface of your wall, ensuring you don’t apply more than one layer to the same place. Otherwise, the paint will accumulate. To increase the intensity in certain areas, simply add a heavier layer. Feel free to roll the sponge over the wall in order to achieve random patterns. Use a smaller sponge if you need to apply the glaze to a hard-to-reach areas, such the trim, window frames, door frames and corners.
Apply the lighter glaze over the top of the first layer of paint to soften the intensity. If you want the top color to be more transparent, just add more glaze to the mixture.
- Wear plastic or rubber gloves to prevent the glaze from getting over your hands.
Linnea Andreasson is a professional interior designer and Japanse decor enthusiast. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 3D and interior design from the University of Essex in 2011. In her spare time she builds custom tatami furniture and writes on her decor blog, Shoji Secrets.