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Sponging On, Ragging On

Looking for a new way to paint your walls? Then try sponging!

What is Sponging?
Sponging is a faux painting technique that uses a natural sea sponge to create a sun-dappled effect, adding depth and texture to the wall.

Sponging involves applying two or more coats of latex paint to your wall. The base coat is rolled on. Satin or semi-gloss paint is best for beginners. The second coat will be a glaze coat applied with the natural sea sponge.

Tips on Choosing Colors
When choosing colors, you need to decide whether you want a subtle effect or a more dramatic look. For subtlety, choose two colors close to each other on the color palette. For a more dramatic effect, choose bolder or deeper colors. Remember that a dramatic look will draw attention to the sponging technique and make the walls dominate the room.

What You'll Need

  • step ladder
  • painter’s masking tape
  • natural sea sponge
  • latex paint (one or more colors)
  • latex glaze

Prep Work
Use the painter’s masking tape to protect areas you don’t want sponged or painted. Then apply your base coat of latex paint.

Sponge On Procedure
To make latex glaze that will be used on the sponge, mix one part paint with four parts glaze. Pour this on a ceramic paint pan, so you can dip the sponge in it. Wet the sponge, then squeeze out as much water as possible. Dip it in the mixture. You’re ready to sponge your first color on.

Gently dab the sponge on the wall. You can work out your technique by trying it on some drywall first. You need to twist your wrist between each dab application so that you avoid a look that is too patterned. Sponging should look random. You can also use different areas of the sponge to get this random effect. Lastly, don’t work up and down but rather diagonally across the wall.

Once you've sponged the area, clean the sponge with water and blot it on a coffee filter.

Now you’re ready to apply the second color. Simply repeat the sponging technique you used with the first color. For corners or hard to reach areas, cut a piece of the sponge off so that it’s small enough to dab into corners.

Ragging On
Ragging is a similar concept to sponging on, except it uses a rag to accomplish its effect. Like sponging on, it's an additive technique, which means that you're adding a new color onto the wall with the rag. Because the rag leaves a texture on the wall, the base coat pops out from underneath the new color.

Ragging differs from sponging in that, instead of working the rag around the walls with your hands, you wrap the rag around a paint roller and wrap rubber bands around it, then work the rag around the walls with the roller.

What You’ll Need

  • step ladder
  • lint-free t-shirt, cotton rag or cheesecloth
  • rubber bands
  • paint roller with short nap
  • latex glaze
  • latex base color
  • latex second color

Prep Work
Apply your base coat of paint and let it dry.

Rag On Procedure
Wet your rag or t-shirt and squeeze it out so it's damp. Then roll it around the low-nap roller, twisting and wrinkling it as you do so. Slip the rubber bands around the rag and roller. They should form creases in the rag's surface.

The glaze should be prepared by mixing one part paint with four parts glaze, and remember that you'll be using your second color to mix into the glaze. Dip the roller in the glaze mixture. Then roll the rag onto the walls, top to bottom. Again, you want to avoid patterns on the walls so remember to paint at a slight diagonal angle. Another tip is to step back from the wall frequently and take a look to make sure you don’t see any patterns.

Sponging on and ragging on have sister techniques, called sponging off and ragging off. Unlike sponging and ragging on, sponging and ragging off are subtractive techniques—they take some the second coat of color off the walls.

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