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How to Color Wash Walls as Cheaply as Possible!

How to Colorwash Walls as Cheaply as Possible

To colorwash walls as cheaply as possible start with quality paint...and then water it down. That's it! You are now going to extend your paint about 3 times. I used a free 2 oz. paint sample to do the two walls (see images below).

To do the technique on the walls, you'll need:

2 ounces of no/low VOC paint*

5-6 ounces of water (start with 5 ounces and see if you like the look)


That's it!

*I can only recommend no (or low) VOC (volatile organic compound) paint to cut down on the toxins in our homes. If you use cheap paint or a paint that does not specifically say 'no or low VOC' you may get flu-like symptoms.

To do:

Mix the paint and water thoroughly. Apply by rubbing it on the walls with the cheesecloth. The cheesecloth will give it a more textured look.

My walls were (dirty) white to begin with, thus the light look. The color I used for the colorwash is a medium taupe.

Please note that the walls in the picture are plaster walls. I have used the technique on inner walls made of wallboard but you will not get the slightly roughened look - the walls are too smooth. Also with wallboard I used just a bit more paint and less water to avoid possibly damaging the walls.

If you want lighter colorwashed walls do not add more water. Instead use a lighter colored paint.

I've done this with red, and yellow paints also.

Have fun!

See link below for information about low and zero VOC paints:

Colorwashed walls

colorwashed wall

colorwashed wall

colorwashed wall

colorwashed wall

closer view of wall

closer view of wall

  • Using Zero VOC Red Paint in My Living Room
    Indoor air can be toxic because of the paint you use. Some years ago I thought I was coming down with the flu and it turned out to be the paint I had just used in my living room. There are safer options now.


BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on September 21, 2011:

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I'm getting ready to do this once again Sarah on another wall - my wall in the picture still looks great. It is such an easy and very pleasing way to freshen up the walls. I'm going to use the same color and saved the old jar. It's almost fall so time to get the house ready for winter fun. And it is so inexpensive. I spent about $4.00 on that sample jar.

Thanks for writing!

Sarah on September 20, 2011:

Just what I was looking for. Thanks. I would love to see the other colours done too.

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on June 04, 2011:

And it still looks so great AngelaKaelin. Just as fresh as when I did it over 2years ago - and with so much water used even in a quality paint supposedly with little or no toxins - any little amount was also greatly reduced. I'm going to do another wall shortly.

Glad you like the idea!

AngelaKaelin from New York on June 04, 2011:

Wow! That wall looks great! Clever idea!

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on November 11, 2010:

So glad you checked back neverpaintb4. Using the cheesecloth you just rub it across the wall - the cheesecloth helps spread it pretty far. And I do believe it keeping it simple - but safe and healthy.

I am so happy with my wall! Have big fun! Yay!

neverpaintb4 on November 11, 2010:

Thanks for the quick response. I'll have to see if I can even get low/no VOC paint here. Then I will try a small amount like you did...LOVE THE LOOK! I'm having a hard time imagining how 7 ounces of liquid could spread over those two walls, but we shall see...thanks again. It's nice to find others who value the KISS method--even when it comes to home improvement. Nice work.

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on November 09, 2010:

Hello neverpaintb4!

Yes, this type of paint is at a home decorating store - interior latex paint created for use on the walls - it is a water-based paint. Most paint in the U.S.A. is very toxic/made with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Now we can buy latex paint without the VOC. This is a quality paint that won't give off toxic fumes in the house (which can make you sick).

Many countries do not sell the type of toxic paint permitted in the U.S. - this may be true in Indonesia. Many countries I travel to, the walls are white or white-washed without the chemicals found in paints with color.

For the two walls I colorwashed, the 2 ounces of paint was enough because I added 5 ounces of water - then rubbed over the white background which then requires very little paint.

Hope you check back and this answers your questions. If you try this technique I hope you like it. Thank you for writing.

neverpaintb4 on November 08, 2010:

I'm in Indonesia and sometimes its difficult to explain things-especially if I don't know what it is myself. Is this type of paint found at a home decorating store or an artist's supply? 2 oz. is a very small amount when I compare it to the gallons I thought I might have to buy. And what exactly is QUALITY PAINT? Thanks!

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on September 17, 2010:

I think you will be pleased. And I'm happy to say there is now far more No VOC paints on the market. You can really stretch a can of good paint with this technique.

Thanks for commenting!

Jalus on September 17, 2010:

Great hub. I am getting ready to redecorate and am certainly going to try this in one of my rooms.

prettydarkhorse from US on February 06, 2010:

Oh now I can try this one on the walls of the place I am staying, thanks BK, Maita

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on February 06, 2010:

Thank you theherbivorehippi - it does feel so complete in here. Yes, it's pleasing to the eye if I glance at it - I just feel good. Thanks for commenting - I'm glad you liked it!

theherbivorehippi from Holly, MI on February 06, 2010:

This wall looks really good! It very elegant and pleasing to the eye! Between this and your red wall your home must be so welcoming inside! Awesome hub!

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on November 08, 2008:

Thanks LindsayLL,

I too had a similar experience. When I moved into a new place I bought some white paint to freshen up the place - I was sick for two days - thought I had the flu. It was my cousin, my elder, who told me these paints can give you flu symptoms. Since then I only look for low VOC, but recently I found no VOC. I've had no flu symptoms since.

Thanks for writing!

LindsayLL on November 08, 2008:

...good you mentioned the voc - last time I painted i was sick for 2 days - thought i had the flu. Thanks.

Lindsay on November 08, 2008:

Thanks! This looks easy. I don't like a million steps and a million products to buy - I didn't think it was necessary. The walls look very pretty.



BkCreative on October 29, 2008:

Thanks ABelle,

I do have pictures of my red wall. I'll have to work on posting it. So far, I've had people coming over ooohing and aaahing. The transformation has been striking!

Thanks for asking and writing!


abelle on October 28, 2008:

do you have pictures of your red wall?  this looks like fun!

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