All About Sponge Painting Walls

If you’re ready to breathe some new life into your room, grab a sponge, a can of glaze, and a few paint colors. That’s right, we’re going to tell you how you can transform your room by sponge painting walls.

With very few tools and even fewer colors, sponge painting is one of the easiest & quickest ways to elevate your room and add depth to your walls. 

Here’s what you need before you start:
  • Paint 
  • Glaze or thinner
  • Latex Gloves 
  • Masking Tape 
  • Paint respirator 
  • Painting tray 
  • Sponge 
  • Painter tape 
  • Optional: Tarp and plastic sheets 
  • Primer and paint roller, if necessary 

Pre-painting preparations for sponge painting walls:

  • Start prepping the walls by masking off any areas that you don’t want to be painted. Follow it up by smoothing over any cracks or holes in your wall with putty. This is the first step to making sure your walls are ready for sponging!  
  • Adding a base color to your wall that is lighter than the selected colors is important for details. This color will show the least but add depth when layered upon and make the room a little more put together. This color will also mask any stains and provide an even base. If your wall is already a lighter shade than your selected colors, consider using a primer to make the glaze and paint stick. 
  • Picking the right sponge is a fairly simple task. The best type of sponge for painting walls is a sea sponge - it’s natural, has a unique pattern that reflects in your end results, and is much easier to work with than a synthetic or regular kitchen sponge. That being said, if you don’t have access to sea sponges, an artist sponge is the next best option. Find one that’s around the size of your palm and has at least one flat surface.

Picking and prepping your paint: 

  • If the project is more of a fun DIY, especially with kids, it might be better to use Acrylic Latex paint on the walls. It’s water-soluble and dries faster, hence is easier to layer onto. The paint can also be thinned with water, and the sponges can be reused multiple times once washed out. 
    You also have the option of an Alkyd paint. It dries slower and will provide a glossy, satin finish. The result will be more textured, and due to its slow rate of drying, is easier to blend. But, you cannot layer or mix acrylic and alkyd paint, as it leads to the paint peeling off.
  • Mix your paint with the glaze according to package instructions, or use a thinner depending on the type of paint you’ve selected. Have a solvent on hand to periodically wash the paint off the sponge as well. Pour the paint and glaze mix into the tray, if required. Glazes are used for a more defined texture, while paint thinners are used for an overall flat and matte finish. 

Now that the prep is done, time to start sponge painting your walls:

  • Begin by wetting the sponge, wringing it out, and then dipping it into the glaze. Make sure to squeeze out any excess paint, or blot it onto old newspapers. Otherwise, when you paint onto the walls, you will get an inconsistent pattern and run the risk of the paint dripping.
  • Start at the corners and paint the walls top to bottom. The glaze should be laid on thick to add texture and depth, but not so much that it leads to the paint dripping down. The base coat should come through when sponging on the first layer. You can go on to add up to 4 colors on top of your base coat, but you must ensure that the previous layer has completely dried before you add the next coat of paint. 
  • When you feel like the sponge is saturated with paint, drop it into the water (if the paint used is water-soluble) or into a solvent. Once the paint has been washed out, wring out the excess liquid and dip it into the next shade you plan to use. Between layers, while waiting for the paint to dry, ensure you drop the sponge into the container with solvent. If the paint on the sponge dries up and hardens, it will leave the sponge unfit for further rounds of painting. Using the sponge correctly can ensure minimal wastage.
  • You can use an extender, or retarder, if you feel like the paint is drying too quickly. It’s best if the paint remains wet for a short while, allowing for easier blending across the layer. Basically, you have to ensure each layer is dry, and doesn’t mix with the next or previous layer, but blends well with the other sections that have been sponged on. Picking the right paint is crucial for this step. 
Once you are done, you can inspect the wall from a distance to see if there’s any touch-up required. The goal is for all areas to have a consistent yet random pattern, where the base color shows through enough for a layering effect to be created. 

Here are some additional tips for the perfect end result:

  • When you add glaze or thinner to paint, it can sometimes lead to color changing. This is why it’s a good idea to test each color till it’s fully dry before you paint onto the walls. 
  • You can test out the color combinations by layering onto a scrap piece of plywood. This not only helps in choosing the right layering style but also in visualizing the final look of your wall. 
  • Two hands are better than one, especially when sponge painting walls! Having someone help with the paint job will ensure an even finish on the walls.
  • Use contrasting colors from the same color family, like a crimson red base coat followed by a peachy pink color. The contrast will add to the depth, even without texture. 
  • Turn off any cooling or heating units to ensure that the paint doesn’t dry too quickly.  
And that’s it. A little bit of sponge painting can go a long way in making an otherwise boring wall the star attraction of your room!

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