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A decorative paint-effect created by dabbing wet glaze with a natural sea sponge.

Learn how to sponge-off with this free, step-by-step, illustrated tutorial,
containing pictures of the 2 easy steps required to create the sponge paint effect.


  Like all paint-effects, sponge painting can be a little messy, so wear old clothing or overalls.
  Also: remove or cover all carpets, furniture and other valuables from the room.

  Prepare the surface that is to be painted, apply at least 2 coats of mid-sheen paint in your chosen colour and allow to dry thoroughly.

  Water-based paint dries quickly so start on your smallest walls first; your speed will improve with experience.

  Have a bucket or bowl of clean water and some rags close at hand for cleaning purposes.


  In this technique the topcoat, or glaze, is patterned by dabbing the sponge over the surface.
  Where the sponge makes contact the glaze is lifted revealing the base coat.

  It is advisable to get someone else to paint the wall with the mixed glaze ahead of you, so that you can concentrate on creating the effect.
  If you must work alone, paint small sections 3ft (1 metre) at a time, & stop the sponging-off process 6 inches (150mm) short of the leading edge.
  Apply the mixed glaze evenly with a brush or roller.
  You may wish to stipple over the brushed areas to prevent the brush marks showing on the finished effect.

  Lightly dampen the sea-sponge with water and wring out thoroughly. (Use dry for oil-based method)

  The challenge of sponging-off is to twist the sponge in-between dabs so that each impression left by the sponge is different to next.
  Only dab 6 to 8 times before cleaning the sponge.
  Repeat the process over the area to be decorated, lapping-in on wet edges.

  Carefully clean paint from woodwork etc while you work, otherwise, re-paint woodwork etc when it is dry.

  Allow the paint to dry before protecting with a coat of clear glaze or varnish.   (optional).

Click to enlarge
Apply glaze.
Click to enlarge
Dab with sponge.

  !!! With oil-based method, used sponges must be washed out with solvent, then detergent after use. !!!


Other tutorials in this series include:
Bagging   Clouding   Colourwash   Dragging   Frottage
Mottling   Rag-rolling   Stippling   Verdigris   Wiping Back

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