How to Sponge Paint

Sponging On and Sponging Off Methods

Learn how to sponge paint walls - it's as easy as 1-2-3!

First made popular in the 1980's, the use of sponge painting has continued to grow. And why not? Whether you use the sponging on method or sponging off method, this decorative painting technique is not only simple, it's fun!

When used with wall murals, the sky really is the limit. Sponge painting can be used to enhance the background of wall murals, as well as bring life to smaller elements. For example, use this technique to give texture to painted bricks or rocks. Or use these instructions with wall mural stencils to create an original masterpiece. You are limited by only your imagination!

Time to get down to business - here is how to sponge paint...

Shop 'Til You Drop

Shop 'til you drop? Not really - but there are a few things that you will need to pick up at the store for this project:

  • sea sponge or other sponge (see below for types of sponges)
  • paint for base coat (satin or semi-gloss)
  • paint for top coat (satin or semi-gloss)
  • glaze
  • clean bucket and a paint stir stick
  • paint roller and other normal painting supplies (brushes, paint tray and liner, etc.)


The most popular type of sponge for this technique is a natural sea sponge.

It not only holds paint well, it also has irregularly-sized pores which create interesting patterns during the painting process. The sponge must be rotated during use to prevent the pattern from becoming repetitious.

While browsing the hardware store, you may also come across an item called a sponging mitt. This too can be used for sponge painting, but keep in mind that it is better for painting large areas and must also be rotated to vary the pattern.

Household sponges can also be used, but in limited circumstances. For example, they are great if you are painting a brick murals.


The best thing to do when learning how to sponge paint is to practice the technique. If the sponge(s) you are using do not seem to work out (or the paint colors), make another trip to the hardware store. Spending a little time in the beginning can save you heaps of time later on!

How to Sponge Paint Step by Step

I can't stress it enough - practice really does make perfect. Try out the technique on a piece of wallboard or plywood. This is also a good time to make sure your color choices are right for your project. When you are satisfied, it is time to move on to that wall...


This step really goes without saying, but I will say it anyway - paint your base coat color and allow it to completely dry. Have you got that done and are you ready to move on? Good!


Mix the top coat paint with the glaze. You will need four parts glaze to one part paint.


Dampen the sponge in water and thoroughly wring it out. Dip the damp sponge in the paint and glaze mixture. Dab off any excess on paper towels.


Lightly press the sponge against the wall, allowing some of the base coat color to show through. Continue this process, continuously rotating the sponge and reloading when necessary.


Take care of any touch ups. You may need to use a smaller sponge or tear off some of your current sponge to paint corners, edges and other small areas.

Alternative Instructions for How to Sponge Paint

The instructions above describe how to sponge paint using the sponging on method. However, there is an alternative, commonly referred to as the sponging off method.

To use this method, instead of applying the paint and glaze mixture to the sponge, apply it to the wall, working in small sections (for example, 4-foot squares). Immediately after applying the glaze, use a dampened sponge to remove it. Make sure you rotate the sponge and blot it on paper towels or wring it out as it becomes filled with the glaze mixture.

That concludes how to sponge paint - enjoy!



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