Sponge painting is a great faux finishing technique that dramatically changes the look of a room. You can use sponge painting to paint furniture, ceramics, metal, or just about anything else you can think of!
What is Sponge Painting?
Sponge painting is a technique that uses a sponge to apply paint to a surface. The color will adhere to the wall in the patterns of the sponge, giving the wall texture and letting some of the base color paint show through.
It's a fun technique to jazz up the walls of a bedroom or other room that has had the same look for a long time. Sponging on a new color of paint allows you to infuse a room with color and a new look without taking as much time as repainting the whole room. (Of course, you can also start with a new base coat of paint and then sponge that as well.)
The main ingredient for successful sponge painting is a natural sea sponge. Because sponge painting has become so popular, you can often find natural sponges at hardware and paint supply stores. If you can't find one there, check out your local craft store or even the beauty section of a drugstore. Make sure you get a natural sponge, as it will hold the paint better and has the fun nooks and crannies that make sponge painting so interesting.
The other product you will need beyond the basics you need for any kind of painting is a faux-finishing glaze. This is mixed with the paint you want to sponge on to give it a more subtle, transparent look.
The usual ratio is one part paint to four or five parts finishing glaze. If you want your top coat to go on darker, use less of the glaze.
Sponge Painting Technique
There's not much of a science to sponge painting because the idea is that it looks random. However, getting a random "pattern" can be a little tricky. If you're new to sponge painting, you'll want to practice so you can see how different techniques of sponging look with your chosen colors.
You can purchase practice boards at your paint supply store, or use a canvas. You might just make a work of art you'll want to hang in another room! Paint on your base color and allow it to dry. Mix up some paint and faux-finishing glaze. Dampen your sponge slightly and wring out the excess water.
Dip the sponge in your paint/glaze mix and blot off the excess paint before applying it to the board or wall. Start in the corner and lightly press the sponge into the wall, being careful not to squeeze the sponge and let excess water or paint run down the wall.
Press or roll the sponge over the surface of the wall to get a random look. Once you've started on a wall, step back and look at your work regularly so you can see if you're applying the paint in a sufficiently random way and an even coat around the wall. Remember, pressing firmly will allow too much glaze to get in one spot.
As you run out of paint on your sponge, dip it back in the paint and continue working. Use small bits of sponge to touch up areas you might have missed.
Sponge Painting Tips
Different combinations of colors will give you a different look in the room. Using a lighter color on top of a darker base coat will make the room lighter, while using a darker top coat will make the room darker.
It is a good idea to keep your base coat and top color similar in hue and intensity. Colors that are too different will just look splotchy and unpleasant. That's another reason it's a good idea to use a practice board, so you can see how your colors will look together before you commit your whole room to the process.