8 Painting Techniques That Will Make Your Walls Stand Out

Kelly Weimert
Written by Kelly Weimert
Updated January 6, 2022
Living room with texturized accent wall
Photo: FollowTheFlow / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

These clever painting techniques are a no-fail way to transform your space

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Few interior updates can transform your look as quickly and effectively as a fresh coat of paint. And when you choose some more creative techniques over regularly applied paint, you can create an interior aesthetic that's truly unlike any other. Even better—many wall painting techniques don't require any sort of artistic talent; all you need are a few supplies and a free afternoon to transform any room in your home with color and personality. 

Whether you want to add subtle and sophisticated texture to your look or make a bold style statement, the following paint techniques can help you refresh your home's interior in style. 

1. Color Washing

Modern interior with sofa and gray accent wall
Photo: Poike / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Color washing involves layering two paint colors together to create a textural effect. Typically, this technique works best when you combine a lighter and darker version of the same color, such as light gray and dark gray, or complementary colors. If you choose mismatching colors or hues with too much contrast, it can make the wall look a bit messy.

All you need to do is paint a solid, semi-gloss base coat, then use a brush or sponge to sweep your two colors on randomly, allowing bare patches and brush strokes to show. To prevent your top paint colors from drying too quickly or thickly, it's helpful to mix them with glaze to thin them out and keep them wetter longer.

2. Sponge Painting

Painting wall with a sponge
Photo: Steve Gorton / Dorling Kindersley RF / Getty Images

Sponge painting is another dynamic technique that doesn't require any artistic prowess. It also doesn't take very long to execute. You can add it to your existing wall color or use it on top of a new color, depending on how much change you're after. 

Either way, all you need is a sponge paint roller or a simple kitchen sponge and a paint color you love. Then, dip your sponge into your chosen paint color and dab it all over the wall. You can create a thin layer for a subtle effect or a thicker layer to make a stylish, textural statement. 

3. Rag Rolling

Similar to sponge painting and color washing, rag rolling is a great way to add some dynamic texture to your interior. And it tends to be a bit more subtle than the other two techniques, so it's a great way to quietly elevate your look. 

Rag rolling also might be the easiest paint technique of all; it quite literally involves taking a wet rag and rolling it in a top coat of paint. Once you dip the rag in paint, bunch it into random creases and folds, which will help to create the wall texture, then press it onto the wall. Since the first blots will be heavier, it helps to spread them out at first for a consistent appearance. 

4. Ombré

Bedroom decorated with ombre technique
Photo: KatarzynaBialasiewicz / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

An ombre effect involves one paint color fading into another, usually from dark to light or vice versa. To create the gradual fading effect, you actually need three colors rather than two. The third color will be used in between the two main colors in order to create the effect. 

Once you decide on your colors, measure and mark three equal horizontal sections of the wall, creating a bottom, middle, and top section. Then paint each section in a different color, leaving a couple inches of space between sections. After you paint these main sections, mix some of the bottom and middle paint colors and fill in the space you left between these sections. Then do the same with the middle and top colors.

5. Wall Stenciling

Kitchen backsplash with stencil design
Photo: KCULP / Adobe Stock

Stenciling a wall offers a more affordable and customizable alternative to wallpaper accent walls. And there are endless stencil designs and patterns out there, so you'll have no trouble finding the right fit for your aesthetic. 

Once you find a stencil you like, choose a paint color that complements your existing wall color. Typically, people opt for their stencil pattern to be lighter than their existing wall color, but this is completely up to you and your preferences. Then simply use your stencil to paint on the new design. 

6. Striping

Bedroom with striped accent wall
Photo: Jacek Kadaj / Moment / Getty Images

Striping is much like it sounds—it involves painting vertical or horizontal stripes on the wall. But It can create a wide variety of effects depending on the thickness and color of your stripes. For instance, if you want to make a bold statement, then you can paint thick stripes that strongly contrast with your base paint color. But if you want a more subtle look, you can opt for thinner stripes in a more neutral hue.

You can use painter's tape to create easy stripes, using a ruler to evenly space out the tape. Then paint every other section to get a striped effect. Vertical stripes will give the impression of higher ceilings while horizontal stripes can make spaces feel wider. 

7. Strie

Speaking of vertical lines, that's exactly what the Strie technique creates. However, these lines are much finer than striping, creating an effect that looks similar to linen. Strie is ideal for anyone who wants to add warmth and texture to their design, but it works particularly well in French country and cottagecore aesthetics. 

To achieve the look, start by applying two coats of satin paint as a base, letting it dry for at least four hours. Then mix four parts glaze to one part paint. Use a roller to apply the mixture, then quickly run a wallpaper paste brush from floor to ceiling to create the Strie effect before the glaze dries. 

8. Metallic Checkers

When it comes to enhancing your aesthetic, metallic paint offers a treasure trove of possibilities. You can apply a solid coat of metallic paint to create an accent wall, or you can use metallic paint to create pretty yet subtle patterns, like checkers.  

To create a subtle checkered effect, purchase metallic paint in a similar hue as your existing paint color, then use painter's tape to create a grid of squares on your wall. If you're working with a small space, creating large grid squares as opposed to small ones can help make the space feel bigger. Once you create the grid, paint every other square metallic to add a bit of dynamic sheen to your look.

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