Rag Rolling Faux Technique

Rag Rolling has become a very popular trend in faux painting today. Rag Rolling uses some very simple painting tools to recreate the mottled, textured look of ragging.

Ragging is achieved (in its subtractive method, more on this later) by pouncing a textured cloth through wet glaze, leaving unique patterns of light and dark on the surface.

While this technique is relatively simple, it can also be very monotonous and time-consuming, especially if a large surface area must be covered. Plus, several hours of this can lead to sore arms and cramping wrists (believe me, I know).

Thus, the wonderful paint tool manufacturers of the world devised a simpler way of producing very nearly the same look. They took a simple roller, and wrapped it in textured cotton cloth.

No need to pounce. You simply roll the glaze over top of your base color and then roll over top of the wet glaze with a rag roller. (I lied there…you do have to use a traditional rag along the corners and to smooth out any darker areas of the glaze, but its minimal.)

There are a few small drawbacks to rag rolling over traditional ragging. With traditional ragging, you are constantly reshaping the cloth in your fist as you pounce, creating more random patterns.

A rag roller has a single set pattern that should look random, but doesn’t always over a large surface. The key is to move the rag roller in random directions, creating a more random pattern.

This is also a fun technique to experiment with metallic and pearlescent glazes.

As with all faux finishes, I recommend perfecting your technique on a practice board before beginning on the walls.

Stop! Very Important! Before beginning, be sure your walls are properly prepared. Not sure? Take a look at our paint preparation instructions (opens in a new window).

Here is what you’ll need:

Necessary Paint Products

  • Latex Semi-Gloss Paint (in desired base color)

  • Faux Technique Glaze (in complimentary or contrasting color)

Necessary Paint Supplies and Applicators

  • 3/8” Nap Roller Cover

  • Roller Frame

  • 2” Angled Nylon/Poly Brush

  • Rag Roller

  • 2” Painter’s Tape

  • Lint-Free Cotton Rags


Painting the Base Coat

Begin by taping around the ceiling, windows, doors, floor trim, and any other woodwork or trim that is present. Use a high-quality nylon-polyester brush to “cut in” around the ceiling and trim work.

Using a moderately-loaded 3/8” roller, roll on the semi-gloss base coat. When rolling, finish each section with a smooth ceiling-to-floor stroke to help eliminate roller marks.

Per paint manufacturer’s instructions, wait at least four, and preferably six, hours before applying the necessary second coat. Wait at least 24 hours for the second coat to dry before beginning the faux technique.


Applying the Faux Technique Glaze

Load your normal (3/8” nap) roller with faux technique glaze and roll onto the wall in approximately 4’ wide sections (there’s no need to be exact). You should apply a fairly thick coat.

Don’t worry if it looks slightly patchy and uneven. You’re going to be removing much of it with your rag roller in a moment.

Depending on conditions, your glaze should remain workable for 20 to 25 minutes.


Rag Rolling

While your 4’ section of glaze is still wet, begin rolling over top of the glaze with your rag roller, removing glaze from the wall in random patterns.

Unlike traditional rolling, you don’t want to move directly up and down. Move in random patterns, being sure to cover as much of the surface a possible with the roller.

Roll the rag roller against a clean cotton cloth fairly often, to keep the roller from becoming completely saturated with glaze. It will not remove glaze from the wall very well if it is saturated.

You will want to leave approximately 3-4” of space untouched along the edge of your section, where it will meet with the next section.

Only rag roll this section once the glaze has been applied to the adjoining section, so that you may “blend” the two sections together without leaving a darker section where the glaze overlaps.


Ragging The Edges

While the glaze is still wet in each section, bunch a lint-free cotton cloth up in your fist and pounce any areas along the ceiling, floor, or adjoining walls where the rag roller could not reach.

As you blot, continually reshape your rag to create random patterns with the folds. Ring any excess glaze out of the rag fairly often.

Repeat steps 2-4 for each 4’ section, blending the sections seamlessly together while the glaze is still workable.


Removing The Tape

Remove the tape from the trimwork, ceiling, and any adjoining sections while the glaze is still wet. Be careful not to mar your beautiful new walls.

The appearance of rag rolling is varied and timeless, leaving you with great-looking and durable walls for years to come.

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