Tips for Rag-Rolling a Wall

Rag-rolling is one of the bolder ways to finish a wall. It is similar in technique to sponging, but you use rolled-up rags to give walls a sophisticated texture. Because of its somewhat complex effect, rag-rolling does a wonderful job of hiding imperfections in a wall.

There are fewer color rules with this technique than with other faux painting methods. Roll light colors over a dark base coat or vice versa. Don’t hesitate to mix colors that are very different from each other. Experiment on a piece of paper to find exciting combinations. After preparing the walls, count on spending one or two days applying the base coat and two or three rag-roll coats.

Prepare the Walls and Apply a Base Coat

Spread drop cloths or plastic sheets on the floors because this will be a messy project.

Although the technique will camouflage small imperfections in the walls, you still need to fill in cracks and holes with spackle or spray-on crack sealer. Wash the walls with a heavy-duty cleaner or give them a light sanding throughout. If there are stains, apply a coat of stain-killing sealer/primer.

Apply a coat of base paint. Use a roller and a brush and completely cover the walls. Apply two coats if necessary.

Load the Rag and Roll

Use rags of the same material throughout the project. Dip the rag in paint and wring it out slightly. Then twist or bunch it into a roll. Before you start on the wall, experiment on scrap pieces of plywood or large sheets of paper.

Slowly roll the paint-dipped rag. Start in a corner. Work from the bottom to the top. Let plenty of the base color show. Use two hands, and vary the direction and pressure from time to time to avoid uniformity.

Roll the next area beside the first and continue until the wall is complete. Let the paint dry and repeat with a new color. Make each additional rag-roll coat overlap the previous strokes. Let the paint dry.

Apply Final Wash

Dilute the base color to a very thin wash (8 or 9 parts water to 1 part latex paint) or glaze (5 parts oil glaze or glazing liquid to 1 part each alkyd paint and paint thinner). Apply it with a roller and brush over the entire wall. This will help blend the colors together.

If the effect of the colors is too strong, apply an additional wash, made of glaze, water, or acrylic polyurethane mixed with a little bit of white paint.

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