Decorative Paint Technique: Colorwashing Wall Instructions

From our online exclusive Decorative Paint Techniques with Danielle Hirsch of Color Splash. Colorwashing is a subtle aged effect perfect for almost any room in the house. Follow these instructions from Danielle Hirsch.



Colorwashing is a subtle aged effect perfect for almost any room in the house.

Difficulty level: 1 out of 5

Danielle's Tips:

  • Always practice this technique on a sample board beforehand.
  • Don't overwork the paint for this technique. It's the understatement of this finish that creates style.
  • Tonality is paints in similar shades.
  • This is a great opportunity for beginners to learn how to manipulate paint. Pros love it too because it's subtle yet sophisticated.
  • Using a flat sheen for the top coat colors will yield a fresco/stucco look.

Materials and Tools:

paint tray
china bristle brushes
latex glaze (Studio Finishes 405) – Benjamin Moore
water bottle
plastic containers
latex paint: (base coat, eggshell sheen: Linen White); (top coat colors, eggshell or flat sheen: Davenport Tan HC-76 and Tyler Taupe HC-43) – Benjamin Moore


1. Prepare the walls for painting; apply the base coat and let dry. In separate containers, mix one part of each top coat color with one part water and one part latex glaze.



2. To create this wet-on-wet technique (i.e. working on a wet surface), dampen a comfortable-sized area of the wall with the damp cheesecloth, and add a squiggle of the desired paint mixture. Use the damp (not wet) sheepskin and rounded movements to move the paint around, keeping the edges thinly fanned. This creates the soft look you're after.

3. Use a dry brush to gently disperse the paint in darker areas, working until you can't see any brush lines. Repeat until the entire project is done. Feel free to colorwash with more than one color, but keep them in the same tonality (the two featured colors work well together).

4. Make sure the wall is completely dry before tackling touchups. Lap lines happen when you work too closely to an already painted area. To fix them, dilute eight parts of the base coat paint with one part water. Lightly brush the mixture across the lap lines, and then diffuse the color throughout the area with a dry brush. Let dry.



5. Use the sheepskin to dab on either colored paint mixture in any areas that need more color. Fan the paint out using a dry brush.

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