Glazing Wainscotting for a Beautiful Effect

A couple of weeks ago I went to help a friend do some glazing of a wall covering that she had in the entrance of her 1912 home. The wainscot material, made of a kind of plastic, was a replica of an old tin pattern. Once painted you really cannot tell that it is not the original tin metal.

Step One Putting the glazing base coat on

The wainscot had been painted a plain white that looked nice next to the rich blue colour of the walls. All of the mill work was white so the coordination was there, however it also looked… flat. When she decided to repaint her walls I helped her choose a new, appropriate colour that worked better with the new stair runners and rugs she had purchased.

This golden wheat colour was more subtle and now the wainscot looked even more anemic so I suggested she glaze it. I took a couple of pictures of the project as we were doing it in case it might inspire someone to do the same. Here is an abbreviated version of the steps:

First you get a glazing compound. It comes in oil or latex. I bought the latex version because we were using water based paints. Before you even put paintbrush to wall you need to decide how strong you want this glaze colour. The glaze is transparent and the colour you get depends on the proportion of opaque paint to glaze. You can use a measuring cup or tin can to do this.

Wiping the glaze
Wiping the glaze

Measure 1/4 cup of glaze to 1/4 cup of paint. This gives you a 1-to-1 proportion or “parts”. Stir well and paint the glaze-paint solution on a piece of wall or board that is the same material as what you will be painting on (if possible). Don’t put too much on.

Now take a cotton rag that you have folded up into a nice pad and wipe off the paint to expose some of the detail. Do you like the way it looks? If not, change the proportion. Try two parts glaze and one part paint if you found it too dark. Play around with it until you get the look you want. It’s that easy. By the way, this is a great technique to hide problem walls in an old house.

Clean the walls if they are dirty, tape off the mill work and you are ready to go. Having two people do this – one to apply the glazing and the other to wipe it off – is faster and highly recommended.

One last tip – step back and look at your work once in a while to see if you have applied the glaze evenly. Keep your rags clean because a rag that is loaded with paint won’t remove much paint. You can apply a clear finsih over the whole job if you want but you don’t really have to unless you want a sheen to the walls.

You’ll be amazed at the results.