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10 Quick Tips on Color Washing

10 Quick Tips on Color Washing

Color wash is a great technique that results in a unique, multidimensional look. A few years ago, I painted a sample board that is hands down the most popular display item at Blue Sky. It is a cabinet board with two colors of Chalk Paint – Duck Egg with a color wash of Aubusson Blue. People love it. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said, “I want my _______ to look like that!”

Color Wash Duck Egg and Aubusson Chalk Paint

When quickly described, the process seems simple enough. It’s is a two-step process where a basecoat is washed over with another color. For the second color, combine a small amount of paint with water and lightly graze basecoat, using a damp brush to achieve more character.

What to Do When Your Color Wash Skills Suck

Have you tried it and failed? You’re going for the softness of a sunset sky – beautiful contrasts of diluted color. What you get is a streaky mess, with too much intensity and heavy color. Give it another try after reading these tips.

  1. Practice this technique on a sample board before attacking your piece.
  2. Start with more water and add varying ratios of paint gradually to achieve the contrast you want. Then make a note of the ratio.
  3. Brush on the wash in deliberate straight strokes (that’s until you master the technique and can move on to curves). Avoid obvious lap marks and commit to the stroke. Try to carry the brush stroke from edge to edge, all the way through.
  4. For a large piece, work in sections and keep a “wet edge” to blend together your brush strokes. In other words, you must keep the paint wet where one section ends and the other begins for a consistent look.
  5. Use an old chip brush with separation in the bristles to help define the texture. Or try a brush not actually meant for painting like a plaster brush or a hand broom.
  6. Use a rag or cheesecloth and wipe off excess color in the direction of the brush stroke. And repeat a brush stroke, if necessary.
  7. Soften effects using a dry brush or sponge to blend any harsh brushstrokes or heavy color.
  8. Be cautious not to drip on areas of the furniture you are not currently washing. You don’t want unintentional spots or blotches.
  9. Let the basecoat dry for a few hours before a wash, if you want a distressed look. When the basecoat hasn’t had adequate time to set, layering on watered-down paint and wiping with a rag will distress the paint.
  10. Try a secret weapon – Scumble Glaze.

Armoire Color Wash

Scumble Glaze

What’s Scumble?

It’s a clear glaze from Artisan Enhancements. You add it to Chalk Paint® (any color) creating a mixture that you can more easily maneuver. Brush, sponge, wipe on and then off. It acts as an extender, giving you more “open” time to set the color where you want it. Less guessing. No more repainting. Get the time you need to work the effect you want.

Have more questions attend a class, color washing is one of the techniques taught in Chalk Paint® Basics at Blue Sky.

Crown of Cabinet with Color Wash Color Wash Cabinet at Blue Sky