How to
Colour Wash a Wall

Blue-gray colour washed walls.

Bring a more inviting look and feel to any room by using a technique known as colour washing or glaze painting. Benjamin Moore’s Studio Finishes® Latex Glaze (F405) is directly mixed with the paint colour of your choice to create the solution needed to colour wash walls and create a beautiful faux finish. Drawing from Tuscan roots, colour washed walls are ideal for dining rooms and other areas where guests will gather, and its decorative look will exude warmth and charm anyplace in your home.

Start your colour wash journey by choosing your paint colour. Selecting shades from the same colour strip is the best way to combine hues that complement one another. Use one of the lighter shades from the strip as your basecoat, and choose a satin or semi-gloss finish to start building the finish.

Colour Washing Brushes and Supplies

One of the keys to a successful colour wash, sometimes referred to as “faux painting,” is to have the right supplies. Colour washing can be achieved by sponge painting or brushing the latex glaze onto walls. A paint brush will provide a more textured look, while sponges or soft rags will create a softer, more diffused appearance.

Studio Finishes is available exclusively at local paint and hardware stores authorized to sell Benjamin Moore. Start with this checklist, then visit your local store for more information, or use our store locator to find a retailer near you.

You will need:

Step #1: Prepare Walls for Colour Washing

Surfaces must be properly prepared before you begin glaze painting walls. Clean your walls thoroughly and repair any protruding nails or other imperfections.

For best results, use Fresh Start® High-Hiding All Purpose Primer (K046) before applying your base colour. Be sure to tape off any edges you wish to protect, such as those along ceilings, windows, and doors.

After you have prepared your walls, apply your selected base colour, taking care to follow the label directions. Allow the base colour ample time to dry. We suggest waiting at least 48 hours before moving on to the next step.

Step #2: Glaze Painting Your Walls

Once your base colour is dry, you can select the colour washing paint technique of your choice, using either a brush or rag/sponge. Begin by mixing Studio Finishes Latex Glaze with a latex or acrylic paint with an eggshell sheen to minimize glare. A good ratio to start with is four parts glaze to one part paint (adding an additional one-half to one part water will further the transparency of the glaze). The more glaze you add, the more transparent the effect. Using less glaze will allow more of the base colour to show through.

Next, dip a soft cloth or sea sponge into your glaze mixture. The soft cloth will give glaze a more subtle appearance, while sponge painting walls will give a more textured look.

Apply the glaze mixture to your wall using a crosshatch motion, creating large, overlapping X-shaped stripes. Continue this wiping technique until the entire surface is covered, and feather out any harsh brush strokes by lightly sweeping over the glaze with a clean, dry brush. For a gentler finish, apply the glaze in a random wiping or circular motion, as if you were washing the wall. Be sure to let the glaze dry thoroughly.

Tip: When you colour wash an entire room, glaze walls opposite from one another first. This will allow adequate time for drying and avoid smudging the wet glaze.

Step #3: Discover More Colour Wash Painting Techniques

There are different wall painting techniques that will make your colour washed walls stand out.

  • For different visual effects, vary your wiping motions as you apply the glaze.
  • To achieve the look of an aged patina, apply a lighter glaze over a darker glaze.
  • For a look with richer colour depth, glaze walls with different paint colours: a base colour, a glaze darker than your base paint colour, and a third deeper glaze colour.

Have More Questions? Visit your local Benjamin Moore store or contact Customer Support.

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Studio Finishes®

Studio Finishes®

Studio Finishes are creative glazes that transform surfaces into works of art.