Tips and Tricks for Ragging
Faux Painting Finishes

Ragging faux painting finishes are created by using a cloth to apply or lift off wet glaze, producing a smooth, elegant texture on the surface.

NOTE: For specific step-by-step instructions, see "How to Faux Paint With a Rag".

But before you start your first rag painting project, here are some important guidelines, tips and tricks to make the process easier for you, and the results more rewarding:

All Ragging Faux Painting Finishes

    creating ragging faux painting finishes

  • Ragged patterns have more definition when dry than while wet - so do not panic if the color difference between the base coat and the top coat is not visible enough. Wait for the finish to dry, and the colors should look more distinct.

  • Use only lint and fuzz-free material for your rags. Shake out and wash all new rags before using - to remove any remaining lint.

  • Also remember to use a cloth that doesn't have any loose or frayed edges, which can leave thread marks on your painted surface. You don't want deposits of little strands to mar your faux paint finish.

  • loose rag faux painting finishes

  • For consistency, always use the same type and size of rag when you apply a technique to a surface.

  • Much of the success of ragging faux painting finishes is in the way you bunch up the rag. Don't create a tight wad of cloth in your hand. Let it form a relaxed scrunched ball, which will render a much more natural effect. Practice before applying the first stroke.

  • Tape along the corners of alternate walls, and rag those walls first. When dry, trransfer the tape and rag the other two.

  • Do not overwork the ragging - dab about 70-80% of the surface, and move on.

Additive Ragging Faux Painting Finishes

  • Be careful not to rotate the rag on the surface, or the glaze will smear.

  • additive rag faux painting finishes

  • To keep the pattern looking subtle and natural, do not push the rag too hard onto the surface.

  • Rinse the rag often for a crisp crushed design.

  • Step back regularly to check your work, and if necessary, fill in the gaps/breaks or areas that are too light with a little more color.

  • If you still miss some spots (especially in the corners and edges), you can touch them up later with an artist's brush, even if the finish has already dried.

  • If the final effect looks uneven, you can correct that by applying a second coat in a different shade of the same color or in a second color.

Subtractive Ragging Faux Painting Finishes

  • A glazing liquid must always be added to the paint for ragging off, because the surface must stay wet long enough for you to manipulate the glaze with the rag, and the glazing liquid helps with that.

  • negative ragging faux painting finishes

  • Never stop halfway down the wall or in the middle, or you will get dark overlapping lines of color. If this does occur, you have to redo the whole wall.

  • Work on small areas at a time, or the glaze may dry before you get to it.

  • You must keep a wet edge at all times. It's best to start a new section a little beyond the wet edge and work back into it. This trick keeps the joints between sections from developing an unwanted dark line.

  • Timing is critical with creating most negative/subtractive ragging finishes, because the glaze can be rolled on more quickly than it can be lifted off. Experiment before-hand to determine how large a section you and your partner can work on at one time, taking skill into consideration.

  • evaluate your rag faux painting finish regularly

  • Set aside the time to do an entire wall in one session so that the leading edge will be wet when you paint the adjacent section.

  • To extend the open time a little, you might want to use a semi-gloss finish for the base coat. This will give you more time to remove the glaze, but the overall final effect will be shinier than with a satin finish base coat.

  • While the glaze is still wet, you can go over a section that may be too dense with glaze, using a clean cloth to even out the pattern.

  • If the leading edge has started to dry up, the best way to re-wet it is with some clear faux glaze (not the colored glaze mix).

  • If you've loaded too much paint on the roller, remove the excess with a curved painter's tool first before rolling the glaze on the wall - that will prevent drips and uneven glaze build up.

  • you can use a brush to apply glaze

  • Instead of rolling on the glaze, you can use a paint brush and make vertical and horizontal crisscross strokes to lay the glaze over the working section. This multiple stroking sets and levels the glaze, and prevents build-up or runs.

  • For a softer look, you can gently stroke the tips of a shoe brush over the ragged-off area in a haphazard fashion. Do this immediately after ragging each section.

  • Keep in mind that just like other negative faux painting finishes, ragging off requires you to use - and then remove - a larger quantity of paint/glaze than you would for most positive techniques. So round up material estimates and purchase supplies accordingly.

Rag Rolling Faux Painting Finishes

  • Most packaged rags are about 2 feet square. If this size makes a roll that is too long for you to handle comfortably, cut them down.

  • rag rolling faux painting finishes

  • You don't have to roll the rag in one continuous motion from bottom to top. You can lift it, rearrange the roll, and reposition it whenever you like.

  • If the pattern appears uneven, retouch it by pouncing small areas lightly with the rolled rag.

  • If you want to break up the linear pattern of traditional rag rolling faux paint techniques, you can use a short rag instead, and roll it in random directions (not just up or down).

  • To create a fantasy marble effect, try rolling the rag diagonally on the wall instead of vertically.

Paint Color Cheat Sheets
Paint Color Cheat Sheets

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Questions and Answers About
Rag Painting:

Enjoy the Q&As, get inspired and don't forget to leave a comment!

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