What Paint Color Combinations Are Best for Faux Ragging Finishes?

Ragging finishes work best with related colors

Ragging finishes work best with related colors


What are the best paint/glaze color combinations for faux ragging finishes?

Also, when rag painting, does the base coat has to be the lighter or darker of the colors?


It's true that the key to successful ragging is in the color combinations of the base coat and colored glaze.

The relationship between top-coat glaze color and the solid base-coat color can create vastly different effects when ragging on or off.

In traditional/classic ragging, a darker colored glaze is usually applied over a lighter colored base coat.

A deeper color glaze applied over a light base coat

Plus, if using 2 or more different glazes, the lightest one should be applied first, and the darkest one, last.

2 darker glazes consequtively applied over a lighter base

There is a practical reason for working dark into light: dark glazes hold their color better than light glazes. That means light glazes have difficulty holding their own color when worked into a darker glaze.

An example of a darker and lighter glaze over the same base color

But this doesn't mean that dark over light is the only correct approach. If you prefer a somewhat chalky, more open and airier look for your faux ragging finish, feel free to reverse the values of the colors, and use a lighter glaze on top of a darker base coat paint color.

Another illustration of different color glazes applied over the same base

It's also best to choose colors that are fairly close to each others. For example, you can rag yellow over a creamy white base, or dark blue over a light blue.

A deep blue shade ragged on a light blue background

Soft colors over a white base will give the appearance of old walls. Dark colors over a lighter shade of the same color will add depth and create a dramatic, elegant effect.

A combination of soft related tints creates an effect of old walls

Avoid mixing totally different colors - most likely, the combinations will look too sharp and dated.

And of course, always experiment on sample boards first before selecting the color combination to use on an entire wall or room.

Click here to ask your own question about rag painting.

Leave a Comment:

What paint colors?
by: Anonymous

What is the top color in your example in this post for the golden finish? I have been doing sample board after sample board and I can't figure out how to get that color.

Don't remember the exact paint color names, but...
by: Yelena

The base coat (the lightest color peeking through) is cream, the overlay coat (the darkest specks of color you can see in the finish) is orange-y brown.

The brown was *loosely* applied over the cream, and then most of it was lifted off with a damp rag, by pouncing over the entire working area.

Get a color fandeck and try to match what you see on your monitor.

Also, don't forget to add some clear medium (glazing liquid) and water to the paint - otherwise you won't get the effect you are looking for! The base coat has to be a satin finish.

Check out the step-by-step ragging tutorials on this site for more tips and tricks.

Return to Rag Painting Q&As.

Paint Color Cheat Sheets
Paint Color Cheat Sheets