Sponge Painting

Try sponging if you're a beginning decorative painter. It's fast, it looks great, and it's tough to mess up.


Add visual punch to a plain-color wall with sponging. It's a quick and easy way to achieve a subtle texture and add depth to your walls. And if you mess up, it's easy to fix less-than-perfect spots. Just follow our no-fail steps and study the how-to photos for can-do confidence.

What You Need
  • Benjamin Moore paints: We use Jack o' Lantern 2156-30 and Harvest Brown 2104-30. Satin sheen is preferred but semigloss works too; flat is not recommended.
  • Benjamin Moore Studio Finish latex glaze in Clear
  • Paint roller for base coat
  • Wide painter's tape
  • 2 plastic paint buckets
  • Paint stir stick
  • Paper plates
  • 2 natural sponges
  • Newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Trim brush or sponge roller
Instructions:

Using a paint roller, base-coat a clean, dry wall with a Jack o' Lantern; let dry. Apply a second coat if needed and allow to dry. Use wide painter's tape to mask around doors, windows, the ceiling, and the floor.

In a paint bucket, mix 1 part Harvest Brown and 4 parts Studio Finish latex glaze. Fill another bucket half full of water for rinsing sponges.

1. Pour a small amount of glaze mixture onto a paper plate.

2. Dampen a sponge with water and wring it out thoroughly. Dip the sponge into the glaze mixture and blot excess onto newspaper. Practicing on a piece of cardboard, dab the sponge lightly, overlapping edges of color and rotating the sponge for a random effect. When comfortable with the color intensity and texture, apply the sponging technique to the wall, beginning in an upper corner.

3. Cover 8-foot-square sections at a time, dipping sponge into glaze mixture as needed.

4. When the sponge becomes saturated with glaze mixture, rinse it in the bucket of water and wring it out thoroughly before continuing.

5. After sponging 8 square feet, dampen a clean sponge in clean water; wring it out thoroughly. Using the damp sponge, dab the wet glaze mixture to remove some of it from the wall so the base coat peeks through; rinse and wring the sponge as needed.

6. When finished removing glaze mixture from one area, continue the technique until the entire wall is finished, then move to an adjacent wall.

When sponging, there's no magic formula for selecting the perfect color combination. If you favor subtle texture, choose colors with little contrast and use a dense application so less of the base color shows through.

For bold texture, choose colors that sharply contrast and use a sparse application. Or try anything in between. The key is to experiment with colors and coverage. In the meantime, let our color combinations inspire you.

Serene Blue

Base coat: Blue Jean 2062-50
Sponge glaze: Blue Daisy 2062-40

Eye-Popping Pink

Base coat: Bayberry 2080-50
Sponge glaze: Raspberry Truffle 2080-10

Sophisticated Yellow

Base coat: Mellow Yellow 2020-50
Sponge glaze: Jack o' Lantern 2156-30

Fresh Green

Base coat: Acadia Green 2034-50
Sponge glaze: Cedar Green 2034-40

Tips
  • Paint a sample board to explore your options. Using contrasting colors or reversing base-coat and top-coat colors can make a big difference in the result. For example, sponge a warm orange base coat with a dark brown top coat.
  • Consider using base-coat and top-coat colors from the same family. For example, a pale blue base coat can be topped with a darker blue or vice versa.
  • Work with a partner and two sponges. One person can sponge on the glaze; the other can remove glaze.
  • Use a trim brush or sponge roller along taped edges. This will ensure neat and consistent coverage.
  • Work in organic-shape areas. If some drying of glaze does occur, organic shapes are less obvious in the end.
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