Color Washing Your Cabinets Can Transform a Kitchen or Bathroom

Give your kitchen or bathroom new life by color washing the cabinets! "Color wash" is a technique in which you use a mixture of paint and glaze over a base coat. It's a rich, textured and visually interesting look, rather than a perfect (but bland) finish.
Even after you know the colors you want to use, there are decisions to make as to how you will use those colors. The more subtle you want the overall effect to be, the closer the shades of colors should be. If a suede-like effect appeals to you, choose paint and glaze that are just two shades apart, in the same color family. If you want a bolder, more dramatic affect, then use complementary colors, like blue and green. If you want an antiqued finish, use a darker color wash over a lighter base coat. If you want to brighten a room yet create depth, use a lighter color wash over a darker base coat.
You can create different effects with different applications. Dabbing the color wash with a sponge creates a textured look; dabbing with a cloth is more subtle. Either a sponge or cloth can create a different effect if you apply the glaze mixture using circular motions, like washing the cabinets… or by using long strokes, making a series of "X" marks. Using a brush will leave brush lines, perfect for creating a cross hatch or linen texture. All of these can be made more subtle by dry brushing lightly afterwards (just retain an extra brush, and wipe it dry as often as needed.)
It's a good idea to try a sample of your intended paints and glazes on a practice board. Paint the practice board with the base coat. After it dries, apply the color wash, experimenting with different applications and finishes, to find the perfect effect for your project. This way you will be confident and prepared to tackle the project.
Preparation: You'll want to remove the hardware from the cabinets. This allows you to get the entire surface color washed, without getting paint or glaze on the hardware. Use painter's tape to protect walls that adjoin the cabinets, and spread newspaper or drop cloths to protect the floor.
Materials: You'll need fine sandpaper (180 grit is good). The base coat should be done in matte, latex paint. The color wash will require another shade of latex paint, as well as your glaze. You'll want some clean rags, a sponge, and at least two brushes.
Doing the Work: Sand the cabinets to prepare the surface. When you're done, wash them down with a Trisodium Phosphate solution. Rinse with clear water, and then allow to dry thoroughly. Now the cabinets are ready to paint with your base coat. Once they are dry, you can proceed to the color wash coat. You can use 2, 3 or 4 parts glaze, to one part paint. The more glaze you use, the more transparent your color wash will be, and the more sheen it will have. (Aren't you glad you did the practice board?)
Let your creativity lead you, and don't worry about making mistakes. If you don't like the way something looks, adjust the look with another tool-or wipe it off and do it over! This medium is pretty forgiving, and you have a little time before things dry and "set". After your finished cabinets are completely dry, apply a clear coat of latex to protect the finish.

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