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Ragging On And Ragging Off

VARIABLES: Paint drying time varies according to regional and seasonal climate conditions.

MATERIALS: Latex base color, latex second color, latex glaze

TOOLS: Lint-free rags, measuring cup and container for mixing paint, roller, rubber bands, paint tray

Ragging on leaves much of the base coat exposed. Ragging off leaves a much denser layer of the ragged color.

PRIME THE RAG - A slightly damp rag will absorb the glaze mix better than a dry rag. Dip the rag briefly in water and then roll it along the wall to remove excess water. (Do this on a section of wall that will be ragged last to allow that section of the wall to dry before ragging.) Put the roller in the pan and load it with paint the same way you would load a regular roller.

Ragging provides a great finish for hiding rough or uneven surfaces—though it doesn’t hide bad prep work. Scrape, sand, and clean the walls as you would for any other paint job. Ragging on is an additive technique, meaning that a rag is used to roll paint over a base to achieve an effect. Ragging off is a subtractive technique and a traditional way of applying a two-color surface. The look is achieved by rolling a rag through a wet glaze to reveal the color underneath.

There are various techniques for both ragging on and ragging off. Instead of working the rag with your hands, wrap it around a paint roller, fix it with rubber bands, and work the rag and roller across the wall. To rag on, first paint the wall with a base color then coat the rag with the glaze mix and roll it along the wall— changing it when the rag becomes too wet. To rag off, apply a base coat and after it dries apply a second color. While the second color is still wet, move the roller across the surface, replacing the rag when it becomes saturated with glaze mix.

Any texture of rag will work, but a clean, lint-free cotton rag—an old T-shirt or cheesecloth—is the best choice. Practice ensures even results. Before you commit to painting a large wall, experiment on several sheets of poster board taped together or an extra sheet of drywall or hardboard.

Ragging On

1 WRAP A T-SHIRT OR OTHER COTTON RAG AROUND A LOW-NAP ROLLER MADE FOR APPLYING CONTACT ADHESIVES. Wet the rag and twist it as you wrap it around the roller, wrinkling it as much as you can. Slip rubber bands around the roller and rag, concealing them in the rag creases to keep them below the surface.

2 MIX ONE PART PAINT TO FOUR PARTS GLAZE, AND POUR IT INTO A ROLLER PAN. Dip the roller in the glaze. Similar to other special paint effects, the second coat—the ragged coat—consists of a glaze-thinned paint. The glaze makes the second color more translucent and slows the drying time of the paint.

3 ROLL GLAZE ONTO THE WALL, WORKING FROM TOP TO BOTTOM. To avoid painting stripes or columns, roll at a slight angle [shown above) and occasionally step back to look at the wall, making sure you do not create roller patterns.

Ragging Off

1 BRUSH THE GLAZE MIXTURE INTO CORNERS. Brush a 2-to 3-inch-wide strip in places where the roller will not reach—the corners, near the ceiling and along the woodwork, for example. Cut in about 5 to 10 feet at a time and then roll on the paint, as described in Step 2, so the cut-in area and the rolled area have the same effect. Rolling into a dry cut-in strip results in an obvious difference between the brushed and rolled sections.

2 ROLL ON THE GLAZE. Put some glaze in a paint tray, and using a short-napped roller, roll a 2-foot-wide section of wall from floor to ceiling. Work the roller into cut-in areas, removing as many brush marks as possible. The glaze can become too dry to work in as few as 15 minutes. For more efficient results, use two people—one to roll and one to rag.

3 ROLL THE RAG ALONG THE WALL. Loosely roll the rag into a cylinder, leaving it partially wrinkled. Practice on a scrap of painted and freshly glazed drywall to get the feel for handling the rag. Start at the bottom of the wall and roll the rag through the fresh glaze toward the top. The surface of the rag will fill with paint as you work. When the entire surface of the rag is wet, turn it inside out. When the rag becomes saturated, replace it. For more depth and texture, allow the first coat to dry and then apply a second glaze color over the first coat.

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