Paint Interior Walls With Old-Fashioned Glazes

By James Dulley

February 7, 2019 4 min read

Dear James: I am remodeling my living room, and I thought about using glazing instead of flat paint or wallpaper. What are the best paints, materials and techniques to use for a professional-looking job? — Diane N.

Dear Diane: Glazing has been used for centuries, long before wallpaper and flat wall paint were commonplace. It produces a soft texture and depth to the wall that is difficult to duplicate with standard rolled-on paint. It is also much less expensive to apply than high-quality wallpaper.

The process of glazing is to paint the wall one color and then sponge or wipe a coat of tinted translucent glaze over it. Glazing can be purchased in kit form, but it's also easy to mix it yourself. The typical mixture is one part paint to two parts glazing liquid. As you get familiar with the technique, you may add some thinner so it flows easier and gives you more working time before it sets.

Oil-based paints and glazing liquids are the easiest to work with. These materials flow nicely and give you plenty of time to work on the glaze. There are areas of the country where oil-based paints cannot be used for environmental reasons; they give off too many VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

If you live in one of these environmentally conscious areas, glazing can also be done with latex (water-based) paints. Mix one part of latex paint to two parts latex glazing liquid. A slight bit of water can be added to thin the mixture if needed. To give you more time to work with it and to make it flow better, add some latex glaze extender or paint conditioner. Most paint stores carry these products.

Once you have decided on the type of paint to use, you must select the colors. You can put a lighter-colored glaze over a dark wall or visa versa. Putting a dark glaze over a lighter wall often creates more depth and a sense that light is coming through from behind it. Any two colors can be used, but don't use radically different colors. Selecting different levels from the same paint chip often works well.

First, paint the wall with two coats of the base coat color as you would paint any wall. There are two basic procedures, positive and negative, for applying the glazing after the wall is painted. With positive glazing, the glaze is applied and textured in one step. With negative glazing, it is first applied with a brush or roller and then textured with a sponge. Negative glazing is generally easier to control.

Even if you have done glazing before, practice on pieces of drywall. You are never quite sure how the base coat and glaze colors will look together until they are actually applied and dry. This will also give you a chance to experiment with different texturing techniques.

Mask off the edge where the walls meet. Start applying the glaze in an upper corner of a wall to form a triangular shape. Work it up to the masking tape at the edge. Using a sponge, texture the glaze diagonally, working from the top and then from the bottom toward the middle. As with any painting, always keep a wet edge from the previous stroke to blend strokes together.

Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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