Best Modern Wall Painting Techniques

'Picasso Your Way' to the Best Modern Wall Painting Techniques for Your Central/South Central PA Home

It’s not only the color of a room that defines its appearance but the technique used to apply the paint. By changing the manner in which you execute the colors, you can transform a room from old-fashioned, dull or ordinary to modern, welcoming or relaxing. It’s simply a matter of taste and the color and technique you choose. These are the key features to giving your house the right look and bringing out your personality.

Pablo Picasso once said, “Others have seen and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not?” When deciding on a look for your Central or South Central Pennsylvania home, factor this thought into the painting technique you choose. Some rooms, such as a family room or guest room, are best with basic or simple modern wall painting techniques, while rooms that are used as centerpieces of the house, such as a formal living room or dining room, will want something more elegant.

Don’t forget: The color you choose is of utmost importance. According to Pantone, the authority on color, “Marsala” is the go-to color for 2015, so you may want to choose something similar to that if you like it.

However, if you spend much time entertaining in your backyard, then consider putting your effort into a technique used on the house’s exterior. If you are thinking of changing the color of the inside or outside of your house, then take a look at a few ways you can accomplish this even if you’ve never before painted.


Indoor Modern Paint Techniques for Walls

There are many types of modern wall paint techniques you can use in your home, and while they may work in almost any type of room, that doesn’t mean you should use the same technique in every room. Understanding the differences will help you decide which style suits each room best.

Color Washing

Add visual texture to any room or cover up a damaged or imperfect wall with color washing. This popular technique uses thinned-out paint with a glaze to create a sophisticated yet aged-looking wall. This easy form of faux finishing is commonly used by beginning painters but is typically perfected by professional finishers. Historically, it was created with oil-based solutions because of the longer drying time; however, today’s environmentally safe companies are using water-based glazes.

Color washing can be done in any paint color and is usually applied over a solid-colored paint. To get the right look, you should use long sweeping strokes to bring the glaze colors together. This technique would work in any room in your house.

Here are a few tips to make sure you get the best effect:

  • Select two colors in the same tonality that work well together
  • Select two colors in the same tonality that work well together
  • Practice color washing on a sample board first
  • Don’t overwork the paint
  • Use a flat sheen for the top coat colors to give you a stucco/fresco look
  • Make sure the wall is completely dry before doing any touchups
  • Use the sheepskin to work in color where it is needed during touchups
  • Only use a dry brush to fan or spread out any of the colors

You will need the following tools and materials:

  • Latex glaze
  • Latex paint, including base coat color and a top coat color
  • Paint tray
  • China bristle brushes
  • Cheesecloth
  • Sheepskin
  • Plastic containers
  • Water bottle

The following steps will show you how to make a plain wall into one that is more refined:

  1. Prepare your walls for painting and then apply the base coat. Let it dry.
  2. In the plastic containers, mix one part each of the top coat color with one part water and one part glaze.
  3. Dampen a workable area on the wall with a moistened cheesecloth and add a squiggle of the paint mixture.
  4. In rounded motions, use a damp sheepskin to move the paint around, keeping the edges thin and fanned. This will create the look you want.
  5. Use a dry paint brush to carefully spread the paint in the darker-colored areas. Do this until all the brush lines are gone. Repeat on entire wall.


Create a stunning effect on your walls by using the ragging painting technique. The process is similar to one of the sponge painting techniques typically preferred except you are using a rag instead of a sponge. Different types of rags will produce the textures of common fabrics. For example, if you use a velvet rag, your wall will have that velvety look. This technique will not create a uniform look but instead a focal point and various points of emphasis. You can use the rag alone or attach it to a paint roller.

Ragging gives a wall the appearance of shifting color density. You can achieve different effects with the amount of glaze you use, too. These tips will help you achieve the ragging look you are striving for:

  • Select colors that complement each other
  • Practice on a sample board first
  • Do not rotate the rag on the surface as it will smear the glaze
  • When your rag is saturated with glaze, replace it with a new one
  • Keep the pattern natural and subtle
  • Touch up missed areas with an artist’s brush
  • If the effect looks uneven, apply another coat in a second color or different shade

You will need the following materials and tools:

  • Latex glaze
  • Latex paint
  • 3/8-inch nap roller
  • Drop cloth
  • Disposable latex gloves
  • Cheesecloth or other lint-free cloth
  • Nylon/polyester brush
  • Paint tray
  • Painter’s tape
  • Water

You can create a timeless wall with the ragging effect by following these steps:

  1. Prepare your walls by cleaning them and repairing any nail holes or other defects.
  2. Apply your base color.
  3. Prepare the glaze solution by thoroughly mixing four parts glaze with one part paint — matte finish works well — in the color you want. Pour into paint tray.
  4. After your base color dries, you can begin ragging the paint. Dampen your cloth and loosely wad it into a ball.
  5. Dip it into the glaze mixture.
  6. Lightly dab the rag into a random pattern on the wall, reshaping it as you go along. Allow to dry.


One of the more subtle interior painting techniques, stippling adds or removes various paints or glazes to the base coat by “stabbing” the wall with a paint brush. The wall is divided into 12-inch vertical sections, and various glazes are used in each section. Subtle vertical lines with faint transitions are then created on your wall.

The stabbing effect from the paint brush creates luxuriance many people love. This is also another great way to hide any imperfections your walls may have. Here are a few tips to make sure you get the stippling finish you want:

  • Mix all the glazing color needed for the project ahead of time so you have uniformity of color
  • To avoid drips, gently tap or shake excess paint off on the inside of the paint can, tray or bucket
  • For a more transparent look, add extra glaze to the mixture
  • For a denser or opaque color, add more paint to the mixture
  • Test your technique and color combinations on a practice board
  • Avoid hard edges by overlapping your sections as you move along your wall
  • Stand back and take a good look at your work to make sure the colors are even

The tools and materials to create a stippling finish include:

  • Latex glaze
  • Latex paint
  • 2- to 2-1/2-inch nylon/polyester brush
  • Paint tray
  • 6-inch mini roller
  • Drop cloth

You can create a subtle yet dimensional look to your walls with these step-by-step directions:

  1. After you prepare your wall, paint the base coat and allow it to dry completely.
  2. Pour one part paint to four parts glaze into a bucket and mix thoroughly.
  3. Dip brush into mixture and paint around the perimeter of the working surface.
  4. Pour glaze mixture into paint tray and then dip in the mini roller.
  5. Roll the glazed color vertically starting with the first section. color onto a 2-foot-by-2-foot section of the wall.
  6. While still wet, dab or tap the glaze off the wall using a random motion by creating patterns of small dots from the end of the brush.


Common Exterior Painting Techniques

It’s not as common to add a painting technique to an exterior wall of a house, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done to your home in Hershey, Camp Hill, Lancaster or the surrounding areas. Adding splashes of color and texture can create such a different type of effect you may want to continue to do more exterior walls. Here are a few outdoor painting techniques for walls you can use. If you are looking for colors, beiges and browns seem to be the most popular exterior colors, according to Olympic Paint.

Decorative Stucco

Plain concrete exterior walls are sturdy but not that attractive. You can customize this type of wall by adding one of the popular decorative wall painting techniques such as a stucco finish that not only provides an attractive texture but adds a touch of boldness.

Adding stucco alone works well, but adding enhancements such as stones or pebbles takes it a step further. The technique of adding pebbles or stones to a stucco wall is called pebble-dashing. A few tips to remember when adding stucco and rocks to an exterior wall are:

  • Create your own stucco mix with one part Portland cement, one part lime, four parts sand and water
  • Instead of using a mixer, mix by hand with wheelbarrow and hoe
  • Dampen the stucco regularly for the first few days as it will be stronger if it dries slowly over a period of 36 to 48 hours
  • If you are using large stones, considering replacing them with stone veneer instead, which is lighter in weight
  • Wear gloves and goggles while you work

You will need the following materials and tools:

  • 3/8-inch thick strips of wood
  • Masonry nails
  • Concrete bonding agent
  • Stucco mix — choose a color that complements your exterior
  • Pewter mortar mixer
  • Cement hawk
  • Trowel
  • Straightedge
  • Wood or foam mason’s float
  • Small pebbles or gravel

The following steps will help you turn a plain brick or concrete wall into one of the most creative wall painting designs:

  1. Inspect your wall to make sure it is clean and in good condition.
  2. Apply thin strips of wood with masonry nails to the bottom and top of the wall. They will help you smooth the stucco out to a uniform thickness later on.
  3. Apply concrete bonding agent to wall.
  4. Moisten and lightly mist the wall, which will help the stucco stick to it when it is applied.
  5. Mix stucco mix and water according to the directions on package in a power mortar mixer.
  6. Put some stucco on your hawk and transfer some to your trowel.
  7. Hold trowel at 45-degree angle and sweep stucco onto the wall.
  8. Place a straightedge against the wooden strips and move it slowly across the wall to level out the stucco.
  9. Once the stucco is even, pull out the wooden strips.
  10. Once stucco is partially dry, rub the mason’s float over the entire surface in a swirling motion.
  11. Mix another batch of stucco and apply it to the wall.
  12. Mix small pebbles or gravel with wet stucco and toss it against the wall to make a textured and rough covering.
  13. You can add stones or pebbles by hand if you want it to look more meticulous.
  14. Allow to dry completely.


Another way to update an exterior concrete wall is by creating a marble effect with paint. Marbleizing adds a touch of elegance to the outside of your house at a relatively cheap cost for materials. You can use any color you want to design the veins and swirls of the marble. The following tips can help you create the marbleizing effect you want:

  • Get rid of all debris on the wall before starting as it can ruin the marbleizing effect
  • The wall should be in good condition
  • This type of effect can also be used on cement walkways
  • Be sure to double check all your measurements

The following materials and tools are needed for this project:

  • Paint scraper
  • Sanding block
  • Sandpaper, 180 grit
  • Handheld concrete brush
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Painter’s tape
  • Drop cloth
  • Latex concrete paint, white
  • Paintbrush, 3 inches
  • Paint roller and handle
  • Acrylic paint, black
  • Paint roller tray
  • Yardstick or tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Low-tack tape, 1/4 inch
  • Paintbrush, 2 inches
  • Acrylic glaze medium
  • Two containers
  • Lint-free rag
  • Acrylic paint, raw umber
  • Thin sign-painting brush, No. 3

Here are the directions to creating a marbleizing effect on an exterior wall of your home:

  1. Smooth any parts of the wall that are flaking.
  2. Sand the whole wall to make small grooves.
  3. Brush away all excess debris and dust.
  4. Wash the wall with soap, rinse with water, and allow to dry.
  5. Along the edge of floor, tape where it meets the wall; use a drop cloth on the floor as well.
  6. Paint the side of the wall with the 3-inch paintbrush and concrete paint.
  7. Use a roller on the rest of the wall.
  8. The paint will dry in about six hours, at which time you will paint a second coat.
  9. Allow to dry at least 24 hours.
  10. Grid the wall into simulated tiles by creating a faux grout line with the ¼-inch tape.
  11. In two containers, blend equal parts water, white paint, and acrylic glaze medium.
  12. Add 1/2 teaspoon each of raw umber and black paint to a containers. Mix well.
  13. Add more if you want a darker gray color.
  14. Starting with the top left or right square, apply white glaze to the entire area, brushing in opposite directions and using the 3-inch brush.
  15. With the 2-inch brush, immediately brush the same area with the glaze mixture. Make random and irregular stripes across the wall, both thick and thin.
  16. With a cloth, dab sides of the stripes to soften them.
  17. Move on to another square. Allow wall to dry about six hours and go to the next step.
  18. Mix the white, black and raw umber colors. Use a ¼ cup of light- gray glaze to thin the mixture.
  19. Paint veins in shaky diagonal lines on each individual tile using the darker gray mixture and the thin brush.
  20. After about six hours, remove the tape.
  21. Allow the wall to dry completely, about 24 hours


Choosing the Right Painting Technique

Selecting the right painting technique can be quite overwhelming, but it can also be a fun and easy project to do. If you need help to make your Central or South Central Pennsylvania house into the home you want with colorful wall texture techniques and effects, it’s a good idea to get some help from a trusted professional. Contact Specialty Coatings Paintings Contractors, Inc today to learn more about their residential painting services and to receive a free estimate on your home interior or exterior painting project.