How to Sponge Paint a Room
Coral Nafie is an interior design expert with over 25 years of home decorating experience. She has authored the book “The About.com Guide to Home Decorating.” Her expertise covers every aspect of home decor projects, including budget makeovers and extensive renovations.
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Updated on 12/15/21
The Spruce / Margot Cavin
Getting a little color on your walls is a great idea for when you’re looking to breathe new life into a room. Usually, it’s a matter of coating walls with a solid color of paint, adding contrasting woodwork, or creating an accent wall that uses another color. An option that is not much harder than painting walls a single color, which can give you stunning results, is sponge painting. It is an especially effective approach for creating an eye-catching feature wall that will stand out as the star attraction of a room.
Using a simple sponge-paint technique, you can quickly transform an otherwise boring, white-walled space into one of the most exciting areas in your home. Most sponge-painting projects use two colors, but you can also experiment with multiple colors applied over one another. You can use as many as five different colors. Perhaps the only drawback is it adds a few extra steps and some time to your painting project.
What Is Sponge Painting?
Sponge painting is a technique that can create a beautiful array of ombre color effects—one color blending into another. It involves nothing more than applying a base coat of color, then using sponges to dab on another color, so the underlying color shows through. Varying the colors, the dabbing technique, and the sponges used gives you creative freedom.
Because sponging adds texture and depth to the walls, this is a good technique for walls with some irregularities in the finish. Although sponge painting can mask minor flaws, it will not hide major wall damage. Fix any damaged wall sections before you start painting. Like any painting project, use the same preparation steps as you would for ordinary painting projects: clean the walls and mask off surfaces you want to protect. Also, practice the sponging technique with your color choices on a piece of scrap cardboard or drywall before you apply it to the walls.
If you choose to use alkyd-based paint, you might need to use thinner. Wear a mask with a charcoal filter to avoid breathing the thinner fumes. Also, wear plastic or rubber gloves to avoid getting the sticky glaze (or paint thinner) on your hands.
What Is Alkyd Paint?
Alkyd paint is an enamel finish similar in consistency to oil paint. Alkyd paint does not contain oil. It is not typically used on walls and is more commonly used on metal or wood. Alkyd paint is tougher than oil-based paint, which is great for a surface that needs something more durable (like a child’s room). The final result of an alkyd painted wall is a hard, semi-gloss finish.
Equipment / Tools
- Paint tray
- Paint roller
- Paint brush
- Base paint
- Topcoat paint
- Faux glaze
- Paint pan liner
- Roller cover
- Stirring stick
- Natural sea sponge
- Rubber gloves
- Glaze extender additive (optional)
The Spruce / Margot Cavin
Paint the Base Coat
Using a base paint color of your choice, paint the walls. For complete coverage, apply a second base coat after the first coat dries.
Flat or eggshell paints are best for most situations, but in rooms that get heavy use or where you expect to wash the walls frequently, satin or semi-gloss paint is a better choice.
The Spruce / Margot Cavin
Mix Topcoat Color and Faux Glaze
After the base coat dries, thoroughly mix one part of your second (top) color of paint with four parts of faux glaze in a bucket. The more glaze you add, the more transparent the topcoat will be. If you want the topcoat to be darker or denser, use less faux glaze.
Choosing a good color combination can be tricky. If you choose a light color for the base coat, using glaze with a darker tone will darken the room’s look. To achieve a lighter look, choose a glaze that is lighter than the base coat. Select a base coat and glaze color that is close in intensity and tone. Too much contrast will look splotchy and spotted.
The Spruce / Margot Cavin
Prep Your Sponge With Paint
Dampen a natural sea sponge with water, then dip it into the bucket of glaze and blot or wipe the excess off the sponge. Be sure to use a natural sea sponge, not a synthetic sponge; it randomizes the pattern more.
The Spruce / Margot Cavin
Lightly press the sponge into the corners of the wall and work outward. Tap the sponge onto the wall in a random pattern, leaving a thin coat of glaze on the surface. As you work, do not press down too hard. You might put too much glaze on the surface. Another technique involves rolling the sponge over the surface to achieve a random appearance.
Add More Paint to the Sponge
When the paint mixture is depleted on the sponge, re-dip it and continue working around the room. Divide your work into small areas. Completing each area before moving the next. Always keep the edge of the painted area wet. If necessary, use a glaze extender additive to slow the drying time of the glaze coat.
The Spruce / Margot Cavin
Touch Up Areas for Consistency
Inspect the overall surface from a distance. Use a small piece of sponge to touch up small areas, get into corners, and help create a consistent and random finish. The goal is for all areas to have a similar “show-through” of base paint and a similar look to the glaze pattern.
The Spruce / Margot Cavin
How to Keep Paint Looking Fresh
Make sure to keep your remaining paint cans and label them with the room, date used, technique, or mixture ratio (if mixed with glaze). If you need to cover a stain or fix a damaged section of a painted wall, you can easily touch up or recreate the effect in that area.
Acrylic Latex Paint vs. Alkyd Paint
You can use ordinary acrylic latex or alkyd interior house paint for a sponge painting project. Latex paint dries quickly. Its downfall is that it dries very quickly, and the sponging technique works best when mixing colors on wet edges. It’s good to use if you’re accustomed to sponging since you can get several layers applied in a short time, and it can be thinned with water and cleaned up with soap and water.
Alkyd paint dries more slowly, which is an advantage, but if you have to thin it and cleanup, you need to paint thinner. Semigloss- or satin-finish paint works nicely for sponging because the layers remain separate, enhancing the effect. However, never mix latex and alkyd layers on the same surface because they may peel.
How to Sponge Paint a Wall (DIY)
Simple materials, simple technique, stunning results.
Sponge painting is a quick, simple way to make dull interior walls dramatic. With just a sponge, a can of glaze and a few paint colors you can transform your house.
- Paint roller
- Paint tray
- Latex glaze
- Latex paints for sponge accents
- Low gloss paint for base
- Painter’s tape
Of all the techniques for creating special effects with paint, none is easier or yields more attractive results than sponge painting. You don’t need a precise hand, expensive tools or exotic potions. You don’t even have to put up with smelly, messy, oil-based paint. And, unlike other painting techniques, sponge painting is forgiving. If one part of your wall turns out too light, for example, you don’t have to start over—you can just go back and dab on some darker paint.
This article will walk you through the basics of sponge painting and give you a head start on the hard part: choosing paint colors (see ‘Experimenting With Colors,’ below).
The process we show in Photos 1 through 8 is about as complex as sponge painting gets. We used five colors in addition to the base coat and at one point scoured the walls to create a distressed look (Photo 6). But depending on the effect you want, you can use fewer colors, and do little or no scouring. You may even decide to sponge on just one color. Generally, using only one or two colors results in a bold, heavily contrasted finish, and using more colors creates a subtle, cloudy effect. Photos 1 through 8 show how the effect changes from dramatic contrast to soft, gradual shading as we add more colors.
Sponge painting isn’t any faster than other special techniques. You still have to protect trim with masking tape, roll on a base color and add other colors. The time the project takes will depend on how many sponge-on colors you use, but expect to spend at least one full weekend on a medium-sized living room or bedroom. Latex paint dries fast, so even in a small room you probably won’t have to wait long for one coat to dry before starting the next.
Plus: Check out these other interior house painting tips you need to know.
What you’ll need
You can pick up everything you’ll need for this project at paint stores and most home centers (Photo 1).
- You’ll get the best results with a natural sea sponge. Natural sponges are more expensive than standard sponges, but they leave a more varied, random pattern than manufactured sponges. Latex paint washes easily out of natural sponges, so you need only one sponge.
- Latex glaze thins latex paint and gives it a translucent look. Oil-based glazes are also available, but we don’t recommend them for this project.
- We used a glaze extender, a liquid additive that thins the glaze/paint mix slightly and slows drying.
- You’ll also need a paint tray, a large plastic measuring cup, masking tape and if you want to rub the paint, a few scouring pads.
Experimenting With Colors
It’s essential that you experiment before you sponge your walls, both to see what the results will look like and to get a feel for painting with a sponge. Experiment on pieces of drywall, hardboard or any other smooth surface. Before you start buying paints, though, narrow down your color choices by trying out paint chips or small samples, if available.
Experimenting with colors can be time-consuming and expensive, so we’ve provided three sample combinations. Some paint brochures also show suggested combinations of colors. There are lots of variables involved in sponge painting (including how you hold the sponge and the shape of the sponge itself), so you won’t be able to reproduce our samples precisely. Still, using the colors listed will give you results similar to ours. You can also treat our samples simply as starting points, using more or fewer and brighter or darker colors than we show. Whatever you do, don’t let all those choices overwhelm and discourage you. This is one of those rare projects that are easier to do well than
Tip: Examine your sample board in the room you’ll be painting. The look will vary dramatically under different lighting conditions.
Project step-by-step (8)
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Do It Right, Do It Yourself!
Originally Published: June 20, 2017
goal, technique, activities, how to make sponges
Sponge drawing for children is an original and exciting technique that helps develop imagination and improve finger motor skills, positively affecting the psycho-emotional state. The unusual technique of fine art causes delight and surprise among preschoolers, allows you to create picturesque and textured images. Such drawing does not take much time, it is accessible even with low artistic abilities, thanks to which preschoolers gain self-confidence.
Non-traditional sponge painting technique
The purpose of sponge painting is to expand the understanding of the original ways of fine art, the formation of creative interest.
Foam sponge painting is convenient because it allows you to create distinct images in a short time, using templates for painting or applying strokes of different shapes and densities. When using an assistive device, a preschooler sees that drawing is an easy task, begins to feel like a real artist. Preschool children of the younger and middle age groups either depict primitive objects or use templates. Older preschoolers can already create fairly complex plot drawings without templates.
Tasks of the original drawing technique:
- development of figurative thinking and spatial orientation;
- improvement of fine motor skills;
- formation of ideas about textures and three-dimensional image;
- development of imagination, instilling interest in fine arts;
- training in the skill of working with non-standard tools and materials for fine art;
- formation of ideas about compositions and color combinations, improvement of the perception of colors;
- a positive effect on the psyche and nervous system, gaining confidence in creative abilities;
- education of perseverance, accuracy, diligence, independence.
How to make drawing sponges
The easiest way is to buy special drawing sponges. They are sold in needlework and fine arts salons and in specialized departments of stores. Shop sponges come in different shapes that allow you to create certain images. So, products with a wedge-shaped end are optimal for depicting linear images, for example, blades of grass. Models with a flattened rounded end are suitable for creating round figures.
If you couldn’t find artistic sponges in the store, you can use ordinary kitchen sponges, but without a hard layer. Sea sponges, which are usually sold in the form of washcloths, are undesirable: they are too porous and loose. They are only suitable for depicting something fluffy, light, for example, animal hair or a cloudy sky.
R To make drawing blanks, proceed as follows:
- Wash prepared objects thoroughly with soap if they are not new.
- Wring out the same thoroughly to remove all soap suds. Then dry well.
- On the prepared sponges, use a felt-tip pen to draw the contours of the desired shapes: hearts, stars, leaves, fish and others. If the lack of artistic abilities does not allow you to accurately depict the figures, you can use baking tins. For classes with older preschoolers, it is advisable to prepare educational figures: numbers, letters, geometric shapes.
- Cut out the drawn shapes. Take your time, do not make wide strokes with scissors, otherwise the soft sponge under the blades will shrink, leaving defects in the form of sharp protrusions.
Remaining foam rubber can be recycled or cut into smaller pieces to save money.
When painting with sponges, the hands quickly get dirty with paint. To avoid this, it is recommended to glue ice cream sticks, used felt-tip pens or empty ballpoint pens to the foam figures. The main thing is to securely fix it, you can additionally wrap it with threads so that the foam rubber does not fall off. When drawing, the stick must be held in a strictly perpendicular direction to the paper, otherwise the print will turn out to be smeared.
Preparing the workplace
The place where the children will draw should be free, so that it can then be easily washed off the paint. It can be the middle of the playing hall or a playground in the kindergarten yard. The workplace should be a table with a flat horizontal surface. If the children will draw in the yard, you should choose a clear and warm day for the lesson. Make sure the yard table is free of chips and nails that could injure a child.
The work surface should be covered with newspapers in several layers, or unnecessary wallpaper pieces, or plastic wrap.
The child should wear clothes that are not a pity to dispose of if they do not wash. An older child can wear an oilcloth apron. If the sleeves of the clothes are long, you will have to roll them up. Before drawing, the girl needs to twist her hair into a bun, or at least weave a pigtail, otherwise she will have to wash the curls from the paint.
The best paint for sponge painting is gouache. If it is left dense, images with clear contours will be obtained. If gouache is slightly diluted with water, blurry, translucent images will turn out. Older preschoolers can try acrylic painting. With acrylic paint, you can even create designs on wardrobe items, such as a T-shirt or a fabric backpack.
The paint should be poured into wide and flat palettes for easy dipping of the sponge. Disposable plastic plates, lids from seaming cans are suitable.
The drawing paper must be thick. Cardboard and Whatman sheets are optimal. An album for drawing is also suitable, only the sheets must first be torn out, otherwise the child may accidentally stain all the paper with paint during the lesson. If you plan to draw in the yard, it is recommended to fix the paper sheets on the table with adhesive tape, otherwise the wind may blow them away.
Sponge painting instructions
Foam sponge painting is easy. A small child will understand the principle of work from the first lesson.
Proceed as follows:
- Take the desired sponge shape. Holding it by the edge or glued stick, dip the figured surface into the palette filled with paint. Don’t push hard.
- Check that the paint has evenly penetrated the bottom surface of the sponge, but does not protrude from the sides.
- Bring the sponge to the paper sheet, press the painted surface. Again, do not press hard, otherwise, instead of a curly image, you will get a spreading spot.
- Raise the sponge. A figure with a relief surface will remain on the sheet. This is the peculiarity of such a drawing. The drawing never turns out perfectly even and smooth. Protrusions, specks, small voids are noticeable on the print – this gives the picture liveliness and originality.
- Try to make a few more shapes with the same sponge. Usually, after the first print, a lot of paint remains on the spongy surface for applying 2-3 images, but gradually their brightness and clarity decreases. That is, the effect is the same as when stamping. Therefore, the drawing technique is called foam stamping. Another variant, as sponge painting is called, is poking, since the figures are applied to the paper with pokes.
- When the figures become completely pale, dip the sponge into the paint again. Continue work. If you want to apply another color, carefully wash the sponge from the previous paint. You do not need to wait for drying, just squeeze the foam rubber well.
- When the drawing is ready, lay it to dry. Indoors, gouache usually dries in 20–30 minutes. Outdoors in sunny weather, 10-15 minutes will suffice. If you want to speed up the drying of the work, you can take a hair dryer.
Several colors can be applied to the sponge at once. Then picturesque drawings with a set of color transitions turn out. Until the paint is dry, you can sprinkle the image with sparkles.
You need to start drawing from the background. Moreover, light colors should be used first, they are easy to cover with darker ones if a mistake is made. But to close the dark paint with light paint is unlikely to succeed, it will still show through. If the pattern being created involves the imposition of figures on top of each other, then before applying the next layer, you need to wait for the previous one to dry.
Sponge painting in the younger group
Younger preschoolers can be asked to draw something simple and positive, such as a rainbow. The lesson will allow at the same time to fix in memory the names of rainbow colors and their order.
For painting, you need a regular rectangular kitchen sponge. On it, the children alternately apply stripes corresponding to the colors of the rainbow, while aloud after the teacher they pronounce the names of the colors.
To memorize the order of colors, you can learn the well-known rhyme about the hunter and the pheasant with preschoolers.
Next, the children apply the sponge to one edge of the sheet so that the red color is at the top, purple is at the bottom, and draw an arcuate strip to the other edge. It turns out a bright and beautiful rainbow with smooth color transitions.
Sponge painting in the middle group
Children of middle preschool age can be encouraged to work with templates. For example, depict a duck.
First, the children paint over the background with blue paint, it will be a lake. They can also paint on green reed stems. Then, when the paint dries, apply a duckling template to the sheet, take a sponge with yellow paint, paint over the inside of the template contour with it. Next, it remains to paint on the beak and eye with felt-tip pens, make the outline of the wing.
Sponge painting in the senior group
Senior preschoolers can be offered something more complicated and interesting: plot drawings, landscapes, still lifes. For example, a field with dandelions. By the way, wonderful bouquet still lifes are obtained using the soap bubble painting technique, which is also recommended for classes with older preschoolers.
Children make background with green paint. Then round white and yellow spots are applied with cylindrical sponges: these are the heads of dandelions. Next, it remains to paint on the stems and leaves with a more saturated green color. Since these plants have complex, carved leaves, it is advisable to give templates to children to draw them.
Sponge painting in the preparatory group
Children in the preparatory group will also be interested in drawing something complex, multicolored. For example, autumn forest. For the lesson, you need to cut out silhouettes of different forest trees from sponges: coniferous and deciduous. The palette should include typical autumn colors: yellow, light green, green, orange, red, brown, burgundy.
First, the children make a background: the earth in yellow-green tones and the blue sky. Then the figures of trees are dipped in different colors, applied to the sheet. One figure can be dipped in several colors at once, the tree will turn out more picturesque. The exception is conifers, they are always green. The prints must be placed in a row along the relief of the depicted land. When the drawing dries, it remains to finish the trunks and branches, the sun, the birds flying south in the sky.
“Rainbow” Non-traditional drawing technique “painting with a sponge”. | Outline of drawing classes (middle group):
State budgetary educational institution of the city of Moscow “School No. 2120”
Organized educational activities in art – aesthetic development
Non-traditional painting technique “painting with a sponge”.
Purpose: To introduce children to the non-traditional painting technique “painting with a sponge”.
– continue to introduce children to new types of drawing;
– to develop interest in creative activity;
– form an idea of the color palette;
– to cultivate accuracy in work.
Materials and equipment:
– landscape sheet of A4 paper
– gouache of all colors of the rainbow
Educator. Guys, please tell me what time is
now? (Spring) Quite right, what do you think, why not winter? (birds have arrived, snow is melting, streams are running, insects have woken up, the day has become longer)
Musical finger gymnastics “From the roof of the drop”
Educator. Okay, great. Children, today we will talk about the rainbow. The word “rainbow” is similar to the word “joy”. And in fact, it is joyful when suddenly a surprisingly beautiful arc appears in the sky. “Paradise arc” called it in the old days and believed that it brings happiness. Since then, it has been called rainbow. A rainbow only appears when it rains and the sun shines at the same time. Sometimes in the sky you can see not one, but two rainbows. Guys, do you know that there are seven colors in the rainbow, and they are all always in the same order. To remember their location, they came up with a rhyme where each first letter stands for the color “Every Hunter Wants to Know Where the Pheasant Sits.” (Demonstration of the colors of the rainbow on the board using colored stripes.)
Today I will introduce you to the non-traditional method of “painting with a sponge”. I will now show you what we will need for today’s lesson. (Demonstration of working material and execution technique) We need to apply stripes to the sponge with a brush in turn: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. (after each application of paint, wash the brush). Then we turn the sponge over, put it on the beginning of a sheet of paper and, without taking our hand off, lead to the other end of the sheet (the bottom color of the rainbow is red.)
Before we get to work, let’s have a PE session!
Physical education session “Rainbow”.
There is thunder in the sky, a thunderstorm. (hand clapping)
Close your eyes! (closed eyes)
The rain has passed. The grass is shining, (we squeeze our fingers, unclench them)
There is a rainbow in the sky. (draw an arc with hands)
Run out of the door, (calling movements)
Barefoot on the grass, (running in place)
Jump straight into the sky. (jump in place)
All right, all right! (hand clapping)
On the rainbow, on the iris, (jumping on one leg)
On the colored arc on one leg.
Riding down the rainbow
And somersault to the ground! (squat down)
Educator: And now let’s go to our seats at the table and get to work!
Remind the technique of drawing (you need to apply stripes to the sponge with a brush in turn: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. (after each application of paint, wash the brush). Then turn the sponge over, apply it to the beginning of the sheet of paper and do not tearing off the hand, we lead to the other end of the sheet (the lower color of the rainbow is red.