Transform plain walls to spectacular with sponge painting.

How to Sponge Paint With Three Colors

by Michelle Ullman

Using a sea sponge to dab various colors of paint over a base coat is one of the easiest decorative painting techniques to master. Sponge painting adds depth and texture to walls, creating a mottled, weathered look reminiscent of aged plaster or marble. You can use the same technique to adorn cabinets, furniture or household decor. A palette of three colors gives just enough variety for interest without being overwhelming. In a child's room, you might select three colors with high contrast, such as yellow, red and blue. In other areas of the home, keep the look more subdued, with three shades of the same color, a mixture of three soft, complementary colors or two shades of one color over a soft cream or other neutral.

Clean the walls with a solution of 2 teaspoons liquid dishwashing soap in one gallon of water. Let the walls dry.

Use painter's tape to mask off light switches, outlets, windowsills and anything else you want left unpainted.

Roll on your base color, applying paint in even strokes. Work from the top left corner of the wall across and downward. Let the wall dry for several hours or overnight.

Mix your second color with glaze in a painting tray. A common recipe is equal parts glaze and paint. Add more glaze if you want a transparent effect, less glaze if you want opaque color.

Moisten your sea sponge and squeeze out excess water. Make your sponge damp, but not dripping.

Dip the sponge into the paint, then blot excess paint onto a sheet of newspaper.

Dab the sponge against the wall, starting in the upper left corner. Keep your dabs light enough to show the texture of the sponge. Work across and downward, keeping your paint dabs roughly 3 inches apart, but without any obvious pattern.

Continue sponging the wall, dipping the sponge into the paint mixture as needed to keep the coverage even. Let some dabs overlap, but do not sponge over the same area.

Rinse the sponge in water periodically so it doesn't become saturated with paint. Squeeze out excess water and blot the sponge on newspaper before continuing to paint.

Step back periodically to evaluate your progress. Continue to sponge paint until the wall is covered to your liking. Let the paint dry for several hours.

Wash your sponge in clean water to remove the paint. Place it in a plastic bag so it stays moist until you are ready to apply the third color.

Mix your third color with glaze in a clean painting tray. You can use the same recipe as your second color, or add more glaze for a transparent effect.

Sponge the third color onto the wall, using the same technique outlined in Steps 5 through 9. Aim your sponge in between the dabs of the second color, letting some overlap. Continue until the wall is completed, then let the paint dry.

Remove any painter's tape.

Items you will need

  • Liquid dishwashing soap
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Cleaning sponge
  • Painter's tape (optional)
  • Three colors of latex interior paint
  • Paint roller
  • Glaze
  • Newspaper
  • Painting trays
  • Mixing sticks
  • Plastic bag
  • Natural sea sponge


  • Along with color, paint finish adds to the completed sponge effect. Use all the same finish -- commonly eggshell -- for an evenly textured look. Increase the depth of your finished project by painting an eggshell or matte base coat, then sponging on semi-gloss paint for colors two and three.


  • Open windows or run a fan while painting to avoid breathing excessive fumes.
  • Use caution if using a ladder to reach upper walls.

About the Author

Living in California, Michelle Ullman is a professional writer with particular expertise in home, garden and pet/nature topics. Her work is published on many websites. She loves crafts and has a deep interest in design and DIY projects.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images