You don't have to stick to using conventional brushes to paint your walls. So why not think creatively and try other paint effects instead? We think you'll be delighted with the results.
Tools & materials required
Most paint effects are suitable for covering large areas, with stencilling and graining ideal for smaller areas, such as woodwork and furniture. You can create most paint effects by using a coloured glaze over a base coat which is lighter or contrasts with the glaze. You create the actual effects while the glaze is still wet and you can do so with tools and materials that isn't too expensive.
Oil and solvent based paints give off harmful fumes. Make sure your room is well ventilated when you're applying your paint, and when it's drying.
Before you start working on your wall or piece of furniture, it's well worth practising your paint technique and experiment with colour on a board. And when you do begin painting, remember to take a step back at regular intervals to check if it's looking how you want it.
Before you start
Decide in advance the size and area you want to cover in one go. Try to choose a finishing point where there's a natural break, like the corner of your wall or the skirting board. This will stop any blending problems when your paint has dried. It's also really important to clean and smooth the surface before starting any paint project. So remove any loose or flakes of material. Wash away dirt, debris and grease. And sand down and smooth the area. This ensures that your paint will stick and have a good finish. Also, remember to apply any primers and sealants if necessary, and take care to cover and protect any furniture and windows.
The base coat
For all paint effects, you'll need to apply an even base coat of silk emulsion to the surface. Make sure you leave it to dry completely. Matt emulsion isn't suitable as it's too porous and makes moving the glaze difficult.
Preparing the glaze
There are lots of ready-mixed water-based glaze or effects paints to choose from, or you can mix your own coloured glaze. Remember to jot down the one you use, in case you need to mix some more. Basic glaze 1 part emulsion + 3 parts water, although this mixture is simple, it dries almost immediately so it doesn't give you a lot of time to work. Simply mix your chosen colour with clear glaze - a specially formulated glaze which gives you more time to work on your paint effect by prolonging the drying time.
How to choose a special effects paint
Paint manufacturers are continually developing inspiring new products that open up a whole range of fresh possibilities for decorating your home and for transforming your furniture and accessories.
Great for accessories as well as trim details and radiators. You can also find metallic-effect paint that's specially designed for woodwork and walls. It takes a little extra care to get a good finish with metallic paints over a large area as brushes and rollers are liable to leave marks. Paint a small cutting-in strip around the edges of your wall and then fill in with a short-pile roller in vertical strokes, working quickly. It can help to practise first on a out-of-the-way area or on lining paper until you're confident with your technique.
Pearl-finish paint and glaze
This luxurious paint looks really good on woodwork and trim details or applied with a stencil. As with metallic-effect paint, brush marks tend to be visible, so take care to keep your brush strokes all in one direction. Look out for transparent pearl glaze. If you use this as a top coat, it gives a soft shimmer to your colour. You can also apply it with a stencil to create transparent shimmering shapes and patterns.
For the best effects, put glitter glaze on with stamps or a stencil, or paint it onto marked-out shapes.
An area of chalkboard paint on a wall or MDF gives you a handy space for writing or drawing in chalk. And you can easily wipe the surface clean with a damp or dry cloth. It's ideal in your kitchen for shopping lists or messages as well as in a children's room or study.
Combining textured emulsion with the sophisticated finish of soft suede, this paint will transform a feature wall. Or it can help you create subtle contrasts when you use it with stencils or in marked-out shapes on a matt wall surface.
How to create a sponging effect
Sponging is a simple decorative technique which you can create in one or more colours. You can use diluted matt emulsion over a solid and dry base colour to get this effect. But make sure you test your colour choice before starting on your walls.
If you're using more than one colour, it's a good idea to begin with the darkest and finish with the lightest. This creates a sense of depth, and the lighter colour will help correct any mistakes you might make. As diluted emulsion has a short drying time, check the room you're decorating isn't too hot or dry.
If you want to mix colours, buy some tester pots of matt emulsion and thin them with clean water by 50% or more, depending on the depth of colour you want. Pour the emulsion into a jam jar, then add a measured amount of water, close the lid tightly and shake it until it's completely mixed.
It's worth bearing in mind that when you dilute emulsion its performance reduces - so your surface won't be as washable as a standard coat of paint.
Pour a little colour mix onto a paint tray or plate and dip a natural sponge into it. Wash the sponge in warm water first to make it soft and pliable and wipe any excess paint on a cloth or card. It's a good idea to experiment on a out of-the-way patch of wall first.
Gently pat the sponge on the wall, making sure you constantly change the angle and position. Try not to press too hard or turn the sponge while it's in contact with the surface as this can cause smudges. From time to time, step back to check your work is even. And if you want a denser effect, simply go over the wall a second or third time.
How to create a feathered effect
Why not combine different shades of paint to create a feathered effect pattern on your feature wall?
Brush on the lighter shade first. Then, when it's dry, dip your roller into the bolder shade. Start at the bottom of your wall and finish about half-way up.
Now take your paint brush and, using upward brush strokes, continue painting. Gently lift your brush as you reach the level you want to get an uneven edge.
How to create a colour washed effect
This basic technique will help you create a whole range of eye-catching effects, from bold brush strokes to a soft feathered look.
Using a colourwash brush, work in a random criss-cross manner with the glaze over the surface. For bold brush strokes use long, firm sweeping actions. But go for repeated, shorter brush strokes if you want a feathered effect.
Allow the first glaze to dry, adding another coat if you want a deeper effect or alternative colour. For a deeper, full bodied effect, start with a darker shade and use lighter shades in the following layers.
How to create a stencilled effect
You can choose from a huge range of ready-made stencils to help you create a unique design, or you can create your own. Make sure you choose the right paint for the type of surface you're painting on. You can stencil in stages, working on small areas at a time. But take care not to use too much paint, or move the stencil.
Carefully plan the area where you want to use the effect and attach your stencil with low-tack masking tape. Use brush strokes if you want to create a feathered effect.
Apply a very small amount of paint to a stencil brush or sponge, and gently dab or stipple the paint through the stencil.
Gently remove the stencil before the paint is dry, and make sure you wipe off any excess paint before starting your next section.
How to create graphic stripes
Graphic stripes are a great way to give your home a modern feel. But before you start painting, make a rough drawing to plan the width of stripes and colour combinations. Squared or graph paper is ideal for working to scale.
Paint your wall with the base colour. Once it's completely dry, use measuring tape to divide the area into bands. Draw the lines on the wall with a pencil and ruler. Use a spirit level to check that all your lines are straight.
Outline your stripes with masking tape, pressing it firmly against the wall. Then paint the stripes with the second colour and add a second coat, if needed. When your second colour is completely dry, carefully remove the masking tape.