How to Glaze Painted Walls

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Using a glazed faux finish can quickly and inexpensively add depth and character to an otherwise plain paint job. Glaze is a clear liquid; a painter can mix or suspend a small amount of an accent paint color in the glaze and apply it in a pattern over a base color. Start with a small project, such as a powder room or hallway, but don't be afraid to jump right in and tackle a larger space. There are many simple techniques and a small to medium-sized job can be completed in a weekend.

Things You'll Need

  • Cardboard box, flattened
  • Sheets or plastic to protect floor
  • Blue painter's tape
  • Disposable containers (1 larger and several smaller)
  • Accent Paint, acrylic
  • Glaze, acrylic
  • Brushes
  • Dishwashing glove
  • Rags
  • Plastic wrap
  • Paint a few test swatches, about 1 foot square, with your existing wall paint onto the flattened cardboard box. You will use these swatches later to test glaze-to-paint ratios and practice application techniques.

  • Prep room as necessary. Move or cover furniture, protect flooring, remove or cover light fixtures, remove electrical face plates, use blue tape to mask around trim, ceiling, and baseboards.

  • Prep wall as needed. Wash the wall with mild detergent if necessary and touch-up the paint. Allow to dry thoroughly.

  • Mix a few small batches of accent paint and glaze. Generally, use 1 part paint to 4 parts glaze. However this ratio is completely at your discretion, depending on how heavy you want the accent color to be over the base wall color. Try a batch with a little more paint and one with a little less paint.

  • Practice your technique on the test swatches. Use a brush to apply a liberal coat of the glaze mixture on top of the base paint. Quickly, using a clean rag or a wadded up piece of plastic wrap, go back over the glaze mixture creating a pattern. Decide if you like to leave a lot of glaze or just a little; try a wiping motion and also a dabbing motion. All of these will produce different patterns. It's up to you which method to choose, based on what you like best.

  • Mix a large batch of paint/glaze based on the experiments you completed above. Apply glaze over entire wall. It is important to mix enough of the paint-glaze mixture to complete the job. The glaze can dry fairly quickly; start at one corner and, working in small sections, plan to keep glazing until you reach the opposite corner.

Tips & Warnings

  • In larger rooms, like a den or bedroom, consider using a glazed faux finish on just one accent wall. Choose an accent paint color that coordinates with your existing wall paint. A safe choice is to use the same color but one to two shades darker. For instance, use deep yellow over pale yellow or khaki over ivory. Save disposable baby jars or plastic yogurt cups and use them to mix your test batches of paint and glaze. The more paint you add to the glaze, the more opaque your design will be. Don't be afraid to try other household implements to create glazing patterns: Paint brushes, sponges and pieces of fabric can all make different designs.

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