Want to learn how to faux paint with a rag? This painting technique is similar to sponging in many ways, and also produces a decoratively glazed surface.
The process of ragging ON is also called positive, or additive ragging.
This simply means that you use a rag to add colored glaze to a surface (rather than to remove it, as you would in negative, or subtractive ragging).
Both sponging on and ragging on produce a similar mottled look, and give surfaces texture and visual interest by adding a layer of decorative glaze on top of a painted base coat.
However, ragging on gives you more opportunity than sponging on to experiment with and control the texture of the glaze you add to the surface.
The reason is because the way you hold the rag - in addition to the fiber type, weave, size and edges of the cloth - dramatically affect the final outcome of the paint treatment.
In other words, you can get many more looks with this painting method than with sponging.
But before showing you how to faux paint using rags, here are some things you need to know about it:
When ragging on, it's usually best to choose colors that are fairly close to each other - never more than 2 shades in difference, and from the same color family.
For example, you can successfully rag yellow over a cream base, or navy blue over royal blue.
You don't want the contrast between the base and top coat to be too high, or the colors to be unrelated - otherwise the effect will look harsh and gaudy (like those dramatic faux finishes from the 80s).
As far as the paint finish goes, the rule of thumb is, the less difference there is between the base and top coats (in hue and contrast), the more difference there can be in sheen.
So when using really similar tones for ragging, you can add a bit more dimension to the finish by using flat paint for the base coat, and satin glaze for the overlay.
When the difference between the colors is already easily apparent, you don't need any more drama (it's easy to overdo with all additive painting techniques) - in this case, use the same finish for the top coat that you used for the base (e.g. flat over flat, satin over satin).
Just like with sponging on, you never want to use paint straight out of a can for ragging on. If you do, you'll end up with a sticky, smudgy mess on your walls - most likely, not the look you're going for!
For the paint to be workable with this method, it needs to be thinned and diluted.
You don't have to use alkyd/oil-based paint for positive ragging (unless you want to, for some reason), so here's a formula that's both easy to work with and easy to clean up after:
1 part latex paint + 1 part clear glazing liquid + 1 part water
This water-based (latex or acrylic) mix will create a delicate, semi-translucent layer of color and should hold up well on the walls as it dries, with no runs or smudges.
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