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Stippling

REQUIRED SKILLS: Mixing glaze and paint. Using a stippling brush and a roller.

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

MATERIALS: Latex paint, latex glaze, blue painter’s masking tape

TOOLS: Measuring cup or paint bucket with measurements, edging brush, roller, paint bucket and grid, stippling brush, edge stippler, lint-free rags, stepladder

Stippling produces a finely textured wall with hints of a second color peeking through.

Stippling is a subtractive finish. You apply glaze and then take some of it off—in this case by pouncing or bouncing the ends of a finely bristled stippling brush through wet glaze. It’s in the same family as sponging off and ragging off but creates a more finely textured surface. It also requires more effort—pouncing the brush over every square inch of the freshly glazed wall.

A stippling brush has long bristles that cover a larger area than the end of a regular brush with each pounce. Stippling brushes can be expensive, but to get the right effect there is really no substitute. An edge stippler, another special-purpose tool, has a narrow design that makes it easier to pounce along the edges of the wall. Stippling also can be an additive effect. A brush is dipped into the glaze mix and applied to the wall by lightly slapping the bristles against the palm of your hand, splattering tiny drops of paint on the base coat.

1 PRACTICE AND PRIME. Apply a semigloss base coat. For best results brush short sections and then roll out as many of the brush strokes as possible. Finish rolling the area and paint more of the edges with the brush. Allow the base coat to dry. Mix paint and glaze in a ratio of four parts glaze to one part paint. Roll a section of the wall with the glaze mixture, covering only as much area as you can stipple before the surface begins to dry. To create the effect, pounce or bounce the stippling brush on the glaze surface. Brush on the glaze near the edges. Apply it elsewhere with a %-inch roller or with a foam roller. For a lighter finish, use less glaze and apply it in random swirls with a paintbrush.

2 STIPPLE THE GLAZE. Work from top to bottom of the wall, pouncing the brush so that you feel a rebound from the bending bristles. Push gently to finely freckle the existing layer of glaze. The overall effect on the wall should be even. Turn your wrist between each application of the brush to avoid creating a pattern. Remove excess glaze from the brush. A loaded brush won’t leave a finely textured surface. Use a rag frequently to absorb excess finish from the bristles and to lighten the overall effect of the wall. Clean the brush after every five or six pounces. Stipple the corners. Move along the wall, rolling and stippling, section by section. When you get to the corners, use a small, stiff-bristled brush to stipple around the edges of the wall where the large brush can’t reach.

Creating Textured Effects

Textured finishes are popular for covering drywall without the usual labor-intensive, three-coat painting. Application is simple, but repair can be tricky.

TEXTURE TYPES. Sand -texture paint is interior latex paint containing perlite—a sandlike additive available in fine, medium, and coarse particle sizes. The additive can be purchased separately, or premixed in 1- and 5-gallon sizes. Orange peel is a slightly pebbly finish without the sharpness of sand. It’s applied over primer with a spray gun, and covered with white-pigmented shellac primer and a satin or semigloss top coat. It’s a good choice for both bath and kitchen because it is durable and scrubbable. Knockdown is a two-step process. A rough 1/8-inch coating is sprayed on, followed 10 to 15 minutes later by a second person “knocking down” the high points with a mason’s trowel. The result is a hand-plastered, old-world look popular in living rooms, bedrooms, and hallways. Acoustic (also known as popcorn) is used on ceilings. It can be applied with a looped texture roller or sprayed on.

APPLICATION TOOLS. Sand-texture paint is applied with a thick-napped roller. Orange peel, knockdown, and acoustic finishes maybe applied by roller but are most often shot onto a primed surface from a spray gun with an attached hopper. You can use a hand-powered spray texture pump or you can rent or purchase an air-powered spray texture gun. For touching up small areas (less than 10 square feet), all of the above textures are available in aerosol spray cans.

TOUCHY TOUCH-UPS. Regardless of the area involved, a seamless touch-up requires matching texture, color, and sheen. Unless all three variables match those of the original finish, seams will be noticeable. Color is usually the most problematic—especially where a ceiling has been exposed to years of cigarette smoke. Apply a stain-blocking primer, followed by a quality interior latex paint. The primer will block any smoke or water stains and provide maximum adhesion, while the top coat will provide uniform color and sheen.

TEXTURED REPAIR. Acoustic (popcorn) texture presents a special repair problem. It is heavy and loses adhesion when wetted by latex paint. It can slide or even fall off a ceiling. The solution is to first prime the entire ceiling with white-pigmented shellac, then apply the repair with an aerosol spray can. After the repaired area dries, prime it a second time. The shellac primer provides a uniform base color and makes the textured material far more water resistant. As the final step, apply a latex flat or eggshell top coat. The extreme texture of acoustic finish requires a roller with an extreme nap. Some fiber roller covers are known as acoustic rollers. Better yet, purchase a split-foam roller. Even with a special roller, however, the rule is, “Get in and get out as fast as you can.” Apply the primer and paint in 2x2-foot areas: two strokes one way, followed by just two strokes at a right angle. Do not try to stretch the paint and never go back.

YOU CAN’T ALWAYS TOUCH UP - So you touched up a spot on the wall and the touch-up is more visible than the problem was? Sometimes the paint has just been on the wall for too long to match what was left in the can. Smoke, grime, and general wear and tear may mean a corner-to-corner paint job is the only way to get a touch-up that actually works.

USE THE RIGHT ROLLER FOR ACOUSTIC CEILINGS - Acoustic ceilings require special rollers that allow the paint to fill in properly. Depending on the thickness of the texture, use a thick-napped or split-foam roller. See the experts at your home center or paint store for information.

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