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Painting Techniques: Sponging Off, Ragging Off

Not entirely happy with the how your sponging on technique is working out? Then you may need to do some sponging and ragging off.

Sponging Off
Sponging off is like subtracting some of the color from your walls. You first put on a base coat and let it dry. Then you put on a second coat that is a glaze mixture. The trick is to paint the glaze mixture in small floor-to-ceiling sections so that you can sponge before the glaze mixture dries.

Once the glaze mixture is on the walls, you blot away the glaze paint with a sponge to create a delightful and subtle effect.

What You'll Need

  • painter's masking tape
  • natural sea sponge
  • roller
  • latex paint
  • latex glaze
  • coffee filters or lint-free rags

Prep Work
Apply your base color and let it dry.

Sponging Off Technique
Use a roller to apply your second color. You should have mixed in one part paint to four parts glaze. This will increase the time window you have to work with the paint. Remember to do this in small, floor to ceiling sections.

Now it's time to use the sponge. Blot the glaze mixture off the walls with your sponge. Rotate your wrist between each application to avoid patterning. Also, it's important to lift the sponge directly off the wall, never smudge it around. To get in to tight corners, cut a piece of sponge off and use it for hard to reach places.

A good tip to remember is that if the glaze section you're working on has begun to dry, mist it with water. It's also important to clean the sponge frequently as too much glaze on the sponge will lessen its effect. You can clean the sponge by rinsing it with water or by blotting it on the coffee filter between each application.

Ragging Off
Ragging off is similar to sponging off, except that it uses a rag. Again, it's a subtractive technique, meaning that you use the rag to take off the second coat of paint. Unlike ragging on, you will not use a roller to wrap the cotton rag around. Instead, you twist the rag into a somewhat wrinkled cylinder that you will hold in your hand. The wrinkles in the rag will change as you roll to achieve that random and un-patterned look.

What You'll Need

  • step ladder
  • painter's masking tape
  • clean cotton rags
  • latex base coat (semigloss)
  • latex second color
  • latex glaze

Prep Work
Apply base coat and allow paint to dry.

Ragging Off Technique
Use the roller to apply the glaze. Again, the mixture should be one part paint to four parts glaze. Do about two-foot wide floor to ceiling sections at a time. Use the rolled rag to take off some of the second coat of paint. You'll use a rolling motion over the paint. Once the rag is saturated in paint, you should turn it inside out. Once the rag is saturated again, use a new cotton rag.

Take a look at our other articles on faux painting techniques!

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