The color wash technique is a beautifully subtle, soft way to decorate your walls. The colors are blended seamlessly together in close variations of tone so an overall effect of natural material, like stone, can be achieved in the end. A homeowner might decide they’d like the effect of a soft blue sky with wispy white clouds, or walls of classic grays in a color wash.


Color Wash

Color wash example

Color wash sample in blue and white by Paint Track












With special painting techniques, a decorative painter can mimic walls created long before the paint roller came along. What you’ll end up with when they’re done is a room that’s so delightfully imperfect, it’s perfect.

Color washing works best when all the colors show through—the base and the brushed layers. To create that effect, the brushwork has to be as random as possible. The bare patches and bristle marks should clearly show. The more haphazard the brushing, the more successful the effect will be.

The difference of color washing today

Today’s paints have fewer solvents in them than they used to. This means they smell better but dry faster. So the decorative painter opens up the paint’s working time by thinning it out with glaze. Glaze comes with a slight sheen that has the added benefit of imparting some depth to the finish. For the base coat, which is rolled on to speed the process, usually a semi-gloss paint is employed for its greater flow and depth of finish properties.

Balance between the two top brushed layers is the sign of a good color wash. A common mistake is to worry too much about coverage and end up with an over-blended surface. The professional starts out as rough as possible; then softens things up by using a special soft, dry brush to feather out any harsh markings while the top layer is still wet. Then we go back over discreet spots with more glaze until the effect is exactly the way the homeowner likes it.

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