Springtime is an invitation for many of us to clean out our ho

Springtime is an invitation for many of us to clean out our homes and update tired old room schemes. If you have more time than money on your hands, the technique to faux finish painting may be just what you need. You’ll find a simple procedure like sponge painting, to be both modest and quick. Plus, with its hands-on approach, this fantasy finish can give your creative side a real work-out.

Before you buy your paints, select the colors you will be using from a pleasing pattern already in the room. Chances are, if you like the way the colors are combined in the pattern, you will like the way they look after they are sponged on your walls.

Most people use a base color rolled onto the walls, followed by at least 3 sponge applied colors. As you become more experienced you might even try up to 10 different colors. Remember, the more colors you use, the more of a work-out you’ll be giving both your body, your creativity and your pocketbook.

Here are some guidelines. Be sure to mask your trim with painters tape and spread a drop cloth before you start. If you are only using a few colors, deep tones have a way of overpowering colors placed over them. So, choose a pastel or mid-tone hue for your base wall color. Have your base coat mixed in a latex semi-gloss, then roll a solid coat on your walls, allowing it to dry overnight.

Finish colors work best when made in flat latex paint. Latex paints dry fast and clean up easy. You’ll like that. One of the tricks to making this project work is applying your finish colors with a large natural sea sponge. Start sponging with the color you want to see least, your accent, and end with the color you want to see most, your dominate.

Here’s how. Pour some the first finish color into a paint roller tray. Before using the sea sponge, wet it and wring it out until damp. Lightly dip the sponge into your paint, dab it on a clean area of your tray and blot excess paint from your sponge.

Start anywhere on your walls. Gently dab wall with sponge spacing your sponge marks about 1′ apart until a 4’x4′ area has been covered. Do turn the sponge repeatedly in your hand to randomize your pattern. Don’t twist or wipe the sponge across the surface, or you’ll smear the paint. Fill in the area you just marked before refilling the sponge. This method will assure evenness over the entire wall.

Continue marking 4’x4′ areas like this until all four walls are covered. Before applying your next finish color, make a tool for doing inside corners and next to ceilings that have no crown mold. Take another sea sponge and cut the side third off, so a nice flat edge remains. Wet and wring it until damp, load with paint, and blot out the excess. Start at the top of the wall, placing the flat edge against the surface you are not trying to paint, and sponge corner to corner.

While you are painting corners, use an old 1″ brush that has been blotted almost dry, to push, not brush, paint into the areas your sponge missed. This trick will fill in and soften the empty spaces giving the corners a uniform appearance.

Wait until one color dries to the touch before applying your next color. Expect your first sponged color to make the wall look like it has a bad case of the chicken-pox. But, if too much color or pattern was applied, you can compensate by sponging some to the background color over areas you feel are mistakes, just wait till they’ve dried. apply your remaining colors one at a time using the same 4’x4′ pattern and corner techniques. Remember, multiple colors and your own creativity are what make this finish look best.

Stephen Thompson is an Allied Member of the American Society of Interior Designers. Your questions, comments and inquiries are welcome at P.O. Box 361. Tupelo, MS 38802.

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