Sponge Painting

Sponge Painting

The soft, mottled pattern produced by sponging a second layer of paint over a base coat adds a stylish broken color effect to the walls of a room and decorative interest to accessories.

Sponging is an easy, instant paint effect that gives a pleasing, mottled appearance to a surface. As the name implies, the technique involves using a sponge to apply one or more colors to a solid base color. The final look will depend on the number of coats of paint sponged on – the more there are, the denser the effect – and, most importantly, the colors used. There are tons of really good sponge painting kits that are there in the market that you can try in order to improve your painting skills. 

With two close shades of the one color, the effect is very subtle – from a distance, the colors will merge yet not look as flat as an area painted in one color. If two, or even three, quite different colors are layered the effect is more dramatic.

Because it is such a simple, quick technique, sponging is ideal for covering large expanses of wall, but it also works well on smaller surfaces such as a blanket box, a wall panel or a cupboard door. A more practical advantage of the technique is that it helps disguise imperfections in wall surfaces.

Experiment with different sponge effects on scrap paper before you start work.

The emulsion is the best choice for sponging walls. It is a low odor, fairly inexpensive and easy to use, and the base coat can be applied with a roller. In general, two or more sponged colors give a more pleasing effect than one. Using just one color can sometimes look spotty unless the sponged color is closely related to the base coat.

Always try out various colors on paper before starting work on your project. Hold the paper samples up to the wall to test the result.

The sponge you use also affects the final look. Natural sea sponges are best; they are expensive but they produce a wonderfully varied pattern that isn’t possible to imitate using a synthetic sponge. However, synthetic sponges are cheaper and more readily available. If you use a synthetic sponge, tear it into an irregular shape and apply the pain with the inner surface.

For a particularly subtle effect, you can dilute the sponging paint with water. Test this out on your sample. And if you apply too much paint, remedy the effect by lifting off some of the excesses with a dry sponge.


You will need:

Emulsion paint in two or three colors    Roller Roller tray Rubber gloves Sponge    Lining or scrap paper.

  1. Testing the result. To make sure that the colors you have chosen work well together, the first test the effect on a piece of scrap paper or wallpaper lining paper.
  1. Painting the base coat. Check that the walls are sound and well prepared. Apply one coat of paint with a roller and allow to dry. If the color underneath was dark, you may need to pain on another base coat and allow it to dry. Clean the roller tray thoroughly.
  1. Loading the sponge. Condition a new sponge by soaking it in water, then ringing it out. Pour some of the second colors into the tray and dip the sponge lightly into it. To achieve the right soft speckled mark, and avoid paint runs, don’t allow the sponge to soak up too much paint. It should be almost dry. Blot off any excess on scrap paper or the ridged surface of the tray.
  1. Sponging on color. Working from the top of the wall, dab the sponge lightly over the surface. Turn the sponge as you work to vary the pattern. If you are sponging with just one color, keep the marks as close together as possible for an overall, even effect. If you are using two or more colors you can space them out a little more. Avoid overlaps, especially at corners and beside doors or windows where paint can build up.

  1. Adding another color (optional). Rinse out the sponge thoroughly. Wait for the paint to dry, then apply the second sponged coat over the first, filling in any gaps between the first color yet still allowing some of the base color to show through.