Skip to main content

Decorative Paint Effects – Colour Washed Walls

Colour wash paint effect on walls
Colour wash paint effect on walls

I panted this colourwash paint effect in the master en-suite bathroom of some very good clients of mine. Over the years I have designed and created a variety of different paint finishes throughout the house, including broken colour finishes in the master bedroom and kitchen, three-tone stripes in the dining room and a metallic pearlescent finish in the lounge, to name but a few.

The master en-suite had originally been painted with a stippled effect over 16 years ago by Nicola Creasey, a fabulous decorative artist who I worked with for a year and helped instill in me my love of all things decorative and painty. The fact that the stippled finish on the walls had lasted so long, only now showing small areas of wear and tear, is a testament to the high durability of decorative paint effects  and shows how cost effective this kind of decorative solution can be!

Masking & Base Coats

The first stage, before any painting was done, was to mask of all areas. For this, and most of my other projects, I use 3M’s Edge Lock 2080EL tape (Reviews on the 3M site). I cannot rate this tape highly enough as it sticks brilliantly (even though it’s low tack) and is designed to be easily removable, and leave a razor sharp edge up to 60 days after initial masking!

Next stage is the base coat. It’s really important to have a good base coat so you need to ensure every inch that’s going to be glazed is completely covered. I therefore applied three coats of Glidden Acrylic Eggshell using a Purdy White Dove 9″ Roller Sleeve. I’ve only recently discovered these and have to say I am very impressed with the even and flat finish they give.

The colour  for the base was a light grey which I colour matched to the lightest shade of the feature tiles. The benefit of choosing a coloured base coat for this type of finish is that it is seen thought the glazes and immediately adds richness and a further colour.

NB: Another benefit of using the 3M Edge Lock with this type of paint is that when it’s removed it doesn’t take half the paint off with it unlike some other tapes which really struggle with acrylic eggshell paints.

The Glazes & Colours

With any minor damage  repaired and the base coat applied it was time to mix up the glazes I would use for the effect itself. I mixed three colours by hand, using a variety of pigments and tubed oil paint colours and adding these to existing oil eggshell bases I had in stock. I then mixed them with a transparent oil glaze and white spirit until I had a consistency akin to single cream – a ratio of roughly 30% paint, 60% glaze and 10% white spirit

The colours I mixed were taken from those found in the bathrooms feature tiles and as you can see from the picture, the colours mixed were quite dark (on the picture they are the small blocks in the middle). It’s best to mix them darker as when the paint is mixed with the oil glaze  the colours become transparent, lighter and a lot less intense’.

Creating the Effect

The colour wash effect itself is a two stage process and is essentially created by first applying each of the glazes separately, blending them out before blending the next colour into the one you have just applied.

It’s important to work methodically and in manageable sized areas, around 2 – 3′ square works well. The brushes I use are very soft 3″ and 4″ brushes which allowed me to blend the paint out easily and ensure there are no brush marks. The aim of the first layer of glaze is to create a cloudy effect that gently incorporates and blends each of the coloured glazes into one another.

The second stage is a repeat of the first, using the same glazes and the same technique. There is no need to keep to the same ‘pattern’, as going over the lighter glazed areas with a mid tone glaze is fine and is actually what creates the depth and dimension of colour for this kind of finish.

Sealing & Protecting

The final stage is all about protecting the finish with a suitable varnish. Over the years I have tried various products and have found that Clearcoat by Dulux is up there with the best. It was used over the original stippled effect16yrs ago and was still going strong. Pretty impressive when you think of all the condensation and waterery atmosphere being created by literally thousands of showers.

It’s a doddle to apply, dries beautifully evenly and comes in either Satin or Matt. For this project I used the Matt version as I really wanted the effect to ‘pop’. I applied two coats of the Clearcoat using a combination of acrylic brush, mini foam roller and Purdy White Dove.

Once dry I removed the tape, tidied up and hey presto, another fab paint effect and another extremely happy client 🙂

Colour wash paint effect on walls
Colour wash paint effect on walls
Colour wash paint effect on walls
Colour wash paint effect on walls

Lee works as a specialist decorator throughout Yorkshire, and is within easy reach for projects in Harrogate, York, Wetherby, Ripon, Ilkley, Leeds, Wakefield, Halifax and the surrounding areas.