Ragging Faux Paint Finishes:
Ideas, Techniques and Instructions

Ragging faux paint techniques involve dabbing or rolling a crumpled up ball of cloth on a surface, with the goal to apply/remove colored glaze and create irregular decorative patterns and imprints.

ragging faux paint finish

Rag painting may also go by the names "cloth distressing", "rag rolling", "cheeseclothing" or "parchment"; each is a variation on the same technique of dabbing the surface to add or subtract a glaze and leave impressions.

Ragging faux paint techniques create a smooth texture on the surface - a finish that can resemble vellum, brushed suede, crushed velvet, soft leather, wallpaper or parchment.

The effect varies with the colors used, and the amount of glaze applied or removed.

rag faux paint finish

Also, different types of rags (cheesecloth, cotton, terry cloth, etc) all leave very different imprints on the glaze, ranging from soft and blurred, to sharp and crisp.

And finally, the way you bunch up the rag in your hand and the movement of your hand will determine what effect you will get - tightly regimented and insistent (as in rag rolling) pattern, or loose and un-structured.

While the most popular material for classic rag painting techniques is a cloth of some kind, you can successfully use even such unexpected materials as plastic bags, paper towels or bubble wrap. Experiment with different "rags" to find the right finish/imprint for your project.

stencil designs over a ragging faux paint finish

Ragging faux paint finishes look great on their own, but most of them also make a perfect background for stenciling. You can stencil right over the ragged wall, or paint a band as a border around the room, and decorate the border with stencil designs.

Ragging is also used in other, more complex faux painting techniques such as marbling, for example. In marbling, a rag is used to create cloudy backdrops for intricate veining. But sometimes, depening on the colors and method, a finish produced by ragging alone can look like fantasy faux marble in its own right.

Faux Rag Painting Guides:

How to Faux Paint With Rags
To rag on, you repeatedly touch the surface with a scrunched cloth (dipped in a colored glaze mix), trying to leave many impressions of the rag, without creating a recognizable pattern. The method is similar to sponging on, with the added challenge of handling a rag properly.

Negative Rag Painting
Ragging off is a technique where you pounce the surface covered in glaze with a cloth, to remove parts of the glaze and reveal the undercoat color. Used subtractively, the ragging effect becomes slightly softer, especially if you moisten the cloth with water first.

Rag-Rolling Faux Paint Techniques
A variation of the positive or negative dabbing method is to form the rag into a sausage shape and distress the surface using a rolling action. The effect will be more formalized. This method is used to advantage where speed is essential: large areas of fast-drying glazes can be quickly distressed.

Tips and Tricks for Ragging Faux Paint Finishes
Here you will learn some tricks of the trade for ragging on, ragging off and rag rolling successfully. This is a required reading before you start your first faux ragging project - the advice will help you avoid many problems in the middle of a painting job.

Examples of Ragging Faux Finish Techniques
Ragging faux finishes come in many flavors - the possibilities for experimenting with this technique are huge. So for ideas and inspiration, take a look at these examples - you are sure to find at least one ragging finish that will suit your taste and your home's style.


Paint Color Cheat Sheets
Paint Color Cheat Sheets

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