6 DIY Wall Painting Techniques for a Professional Finish

Faux Painting

Use wall painting techniques to add some color and flair to a drab room. Painting is an easy way to bring a room back to life, and by using a few special techniques, you can make your DIY paint job look like an expensive, professionally done project.

Wall Painting Techniques

Here are a few classic decorative wall painting techniques. With a little patience and willingness, you can really punch up the design of your rooms, even on a small budget.


Sponging involves using a sponge to create a random pattern on the wall. It gives your room a little depth and texture. You can experiment with colors and glaze to create a subtle or dramatic effect. Sponging is a good way to hide some imperfections in your walls, as the random pattern will help them blend in.

To sponge your walls, simply dip a natural sea sponge into your chosen color of paint mixed with four parts faux glaze and gently press on the wall over your base coat until you're happy with the coverage of the pattern. Start at the outside of the walls and work your way in.

Stenciling and Stamping

stencil design on a wall

Learning how to stencil or stamp is a bit more difficult that the previous two techniques, and you will need a few more tools and a lot more patience. You can use stamping or stenciling to create an effect similar to wallpaper.

Here are a few basic steps to follow to begin stenciling or stamping.

  1. Paint your wall a main base coat color. Usually a neutral works best to ensure that your stencil or stamp pops off the wall.
  2. Depending on what type of stencil you are using, either clear acetate or oiled stencil cards, you can use either rapidgraph to trace the acetate image or carbon paper and a pencil to trace the oiled stencil image.
  3. Using an X-acto knife, cut the stencil out, making certain that you don't cut through the stencil.
  4. Use spray adhesive to apply the stencil to the wall.
  5. Next, place all of the colors you want to use on a palette. Artistic acrylic paint is best because it dries rapidly and is easily applied.
  6. If you are using more than one color for a pattern, make sure you paint beginning in the center and move outward so the colors don't bleed together.
  7. Finally, after the paint has dried, apply a clear coat of protective varnish .

Rag Painting

rag painting

In rag painting, rags are used to apply paint to create a marbled effect. Dip a rag into your chosen color, shake off the excess, and use the rag to dab on the paint. The pattern can be random, but your dabs should not be widely scattered. This will help create a good marbled look. Traditionally, the base coat should be a few shades lighter than the color used for the rag work, but you can experiment with the style of your choosing.


Dragging is a simple technique that changes the texture and appearance of flat wall paint. Drag a dry brush, sponge or rag over freshly applied paint in different directions and patterns to change the look and feel of the wall.


stripe effect on wall

Stippling uses a special stippling brush or a towel to dab at freshly applied glaze on the wall. It gives a subtle, polka dot texture to the walls. Apply the same glaze that you would use for sponge painting directly to the wall with a brush or roller, then go over it with a stippling brush or towel, tapping the wall quickly and consistently until you get the effect you want.

Wood Graining

Give any wall in your home the appearance of painted wood by adding a faux wood grain. Dip plastic or metal combs of different shapes into a wet glaze, then drag the comb through the fresh paint on the wall. Try moving the comb in various directions and mixing up the combs used in one section to create a realistic wood grain.

Try a Few Techniques

Remember, if you don't like the way that your faux painting looks, feel free to repaint over it and start again. If you want, try a few different techniques on the same wall and see which one you like the most, and then paint over the wall and start over again with the one that you think looks best.

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6 DIY Wall Painting Techniques for a Professional Finish