Add interest to a boring wall by using a paint effect to give a subtle texture or pattern. Always try out your chosen effect on a piece of board or card before you start, to make sure you are confident in getting the effect you want.
Once you’ve tried a couple of effects as detailed below, you can start to use your imagination. Use a brush, sponge or rag to work in different ways to compare different effects, and use different colours and shades together to make a really interesting wall.
Many paint effects require a glaze – this is a mixture of acrylic emulsion and an additive, which stops the paint from drying too quickly so that you have time to work on your effects. A glaze should be used over a coloured basecoat, and the glaze should be a shade or two lighter or darker than the base so that the effect is well pronounced.
You can buy ready-mixed glazes, or purchase the additive from a DIY shop and mix your own. Most paint effects can be messy to do, so ensure you have covered and masked anything you don’t want to get paint on, and wear gloves.
Adding a colour wash to walls gives a rustic effect, and can help to hide uneven or damaged plaster. Paint the walls with a light base colour and allow to dry overnight, then get a glaze a couple of shades darker. You can even use a slightly contrasting colour, such as a warm orange on a yellow base or aquamarine on blue.
Brush the glaze onto the wall, covering the whole wall. By the time you finish the wall, the point where you started should be slightly dry. You can now take a soft cloth, and gently move it over the wall, first in one direction, then another. This will remove brush marks and give a subtle, diffused effect.
This technique was very popular in the 70s and 80s so use it for a retro feel, or on a feature wall for a different look. Again, paint the wall with a base colour and dry overnight. The effect will work best if the glaze colour is a similar hue to the basecoat, but a couple of shades darker or lighter. You don’t want the glaze to dry before you have a chance to work on it, so either work with a partner or if you’re on your own work in metre-square sections.
Paint the glaze on, then take a soft rag and roll it into a sausage shape. Roll the rag along the wall as if it were a rolling-pin. The rag will take paint off and then redeposit it, creating a soft, ruffled pattern. Do not allow the rag to become too saturated with paint refold it of change for a new rag if necessary.
You can produce an array of subtle effects with a sponge. For a textured look, paint glaze onto your basecoat and dab at it with a natural sponge. A synthetic sponge, cut to an irregular shape, will give a finer texture.
For more colour contrast between basecoat and glaze, choose a glaze in a contrasting colour or a few shades darker than your basecoat. Do not paint the glaze onto the wall, instead pour some into a palette and dip the dry sponge in. Dab off excess paint, then apply the sponge to the wall, dabbing gently and randomly to avoid creating a repetitive pattern. You can build up layers gradually until you are happy with the glaze colour.
You will need a proper stippling brush for this effect – don’t be tempted to use a normal paintbrush as it won’t look right. It’s a simple, subtle effect that can be used to good effect in blending colours. Paint your glaze over the basecoat, then take your stipple brush and gently touch it to the wall, over and over quickly. As you work, you’ll see that any brush marks are removed and if you paint on two slightly different glaze colours, you can blend them in nicely.
This is another effect where it pays to have the proper tools and materials. A wide range of stencils are available from DIY and art shops, and you’ll also need stencil mount spray, a stencil brush, and stencil paint.
Spray your stencil with the mounting spray, and press against the wall. The stencil spray will hold it in place for you, but allow you to remove it without damaging the paintwork. Put a little stencil paint into a palette or saucer, dip the brush in and dab away excess paint, then apply the brush to the wall, working in a gentle dabbing or stippling motion. Go over the entire stencil, then remove the stencil from the wall straight away.
Wipe wet paint off the stencil before using it again so you don’t get any smudges on the wall.