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What Glaze Will Tone Down Bright Paint Colors?

Use glaze to subdue a runaway paint color.
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You’ve finally painted the spare room -- or the picture frame or the sideboard. But, as the paint dries, you discover a garish billboard hue that tints everything in its environment and gives you a headache. You don’t have to shell out more cash for paint or painters to start over. Just get some clear liquid glaze and decide on an approach to tone down that banana yellow kitchen to a manageable wattage.

Browned Glaze

For paint projects that need a bit of toning down, a touch of burnt umber or raw umber in clear glaze will dull the vivid hue. Acrylic glazing liquid dries slowly, giving you the time to work out the effect you need. Remember to keep the glaze very wet and add minute dabs of color gradually. It's important to keep testing until you achieve a translucent shade that works. Adding an umber to the glaze incrementally avoids creating an opaque glaze that obscures the original but flashy color.

Cloudy Color

Whitewash a too-bright wall with glaze so that the color shows through but doesn’t blind you. Whitewash is simply white paint mixed with clear liquid glaze for a see-through milky finish. Apply a sample mix to a small section of the wall to gauge the effect as it dries. Add more white to the glaze very slowly, testing as you go until the original paint color is toned down to a shade you can live with. One coat of glaze should cover the wall, or walls, sufficiently to solve the problem.

Faux Glaze Effect

Don’t repaint that glaring wall you thought would be lively and sunny. Faux paint it to save money, save time and save your eyes. Using leftover paint or a small tester in a pale color such as linen or sand will tone things down. The overcoat is made by adding a small amount of color to clear liquid glaze, testing to get a see-through tint. The tinted glaze can be sponged or painted on for a faux suede effect. Painted-on glaze should be very runny so that it can be partly wiped off with a clean rag. Faux finishing allows the first color to show through but blunts the brightness and gives you a soft, more textured finish as a bonus.

Attractive Opposites

Complementary colors on the color wheel affect how color is perceived. If the paint on furniture or walls is too bright, a hint of the color’s complement mixed into clear glaze will tone it down. Blue’s complement is orange, red’s is green and yellow’s is violet. This calls for some experimenting and subtlety because most colors are a mix, not a pure shade, and you have to analyze the existing color to find the right complement. The merest sheer complementary glaze, almost a clear glaze, will subdue a wild color without muddying it, so the technique is worth a try. Test your glaze on an out-of-the-way spot before applying to a large area.

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