Sponge Painting

Sponge painting is probably the single most popular form of faux painting. This is due probably to both sponging’s unique texture and its ease of application.

Sponge Painting

Sponging gives a surface texture and depth due to its porous surface. It can be either subtle or pronounced, depending on the technique and the desired results.

There are actually two ways to sponge paint. Sponging On and Sponging Off.

As the names imply, one involves applying the glaze to the walls with the sponge, while the other involves applying the glaze to the surface with a roller and removing the desired amount with the sponge.

Sponging On gives the wall a more porous, mottled appearance.

Sponging Off results in a more subtle, textured surface.

Sponge Painting
Sponging Off (Left) and Sponging On (Right)

I will cover both methods here. You can choose which best reflects your taste and style.

As with all faux techniques, I suggest that you perfect your sponge painting technique (and color choices) on a sample board before beginning on the walls.

Stop! Very Important! Before beginning, make 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 (for both Sponging On and Sponging Off):

Necessary Paint Products

  • Latex Satin Paint (in desired base color)

    • How much paint do you need? Check out the Paint Estimator page for help in calculating your paint needs.

  • Latex Satin Paint (in secondary color, for mixing with glaze)

  • Faux Technique Glaze

Necessary Paint Supplies and Applicators

  • Natural Sea Sponge

  • 3/8” Nap Roller Cover

  • Roller Frame

  • 2” Angled Nylon/Poly Brush

  • 2” Painter’s Tape

  • Lint-Free Rags

SPONGING ON

STEP 1:

Painting the Base Coats

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.

STEP 2:

Sponge Painting: Sponge On Technique

If you have purchased a large sea sponge, you may find it easier to cut the sponge into more usefully-sized sections using a pair of scissors. Cut a couple of smaller pieces for use in corners and tight spaces.

Dampen the sea sponge with water and wring it out thoroughly. Now, apply a small amount of glaze to the sponge using a paintbrush. Blot any access glaze on a clean cotton rag.



sponging on paint
Using a brush to apply the glaze to the sponge will help you to control the amount of glaze applied. Dipping the sea sponge in the glaze will cause an overloading of glaze and negatively effect the transparency (or depth) of the finished look.

Apply the glaze to the surface, creating random patterns by rotating the sponge in different directions, like turning a doorknob. Do not squeeze the sponge or press down too hard on the surface. Be sure to fill in and overlap so the surface does not look blotchy.

Reload the sponge as necessary. If the sponge begins to accumulate too much paint, simply rinse the sponge clean with water and wring out.

If you are intending to use a second glaze color on top of the first, wait at least four hours for the first glaze to dry before beginning the second color.

STEP 3:

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 sponge painted walls.



SPONGING OFF

STEP ONE:

Follow the instructions from Step 1 above for applying the base coat(s).

STEP 2:

Sponge Painting: Sponge Off Technique

If you have purchased a large sea sponge, you may find it easier to cut the sponge into more usefully-size sections using a pair of scissors. Cut a couple of smaller pieces for use in corners and tight spaces.

Dampen the sea sponge with water and wring out thoroughly.

Choose a convenient starting point (typically, the top corner of a wall) and roll the faux technique glaze onto the wall in an approximately 3’ by 3’ section.



sponging off paint
Using the dampened sea sponge, blot the still-wet glaze off of the surface to create the desired look. Create random patterns in the glaze by rotating the sponge in different directions, like turning a doorknob.

Be sure to rinse the accumulated glaze out of the sponge often. The point is to remove some of the glaze, not reapply it.

When you have finished sponging off one 3x3 section, roll on your next section immediately, and carefully blend the edges together to avoid darker, overlapping lines.

Continue this process until you have completed an entire wall. If you stop in the middle of a wall the glaze will dry, and you will later be able to see where the glaze overlaps.

If you are intending to use a second glaze color on top of the first, wait at least six hours for the first glaze to dry before beginning the second color.

STEP 3:

Follow the directions for Step 3 above for removing the tape.

I hope you found sponge painting an enjoyable and educational experience. Enjoy the wonderful texture and mood of your new sponge painted room!

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