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Select your effect

Sometimes more than just a paint finish is required!

Paint effects allow you the freedom to capture a mood, create an ambience and transform the mundane into something special. Some techniques also have the extremely practical benefit of disguising less than perfect surfaces. In fact, imperfections in the surface can add to the overall impact of the effect. Paint effects are designed for durability giving you confidence that the look you painstakingly create will continue to look good. This website contains a small taste of the paint effects techniques commonly used. There are a wide variety of other paint effects techniques that you can use to achieve highly professional results.

The Resene website features a range of paint effects projects, from cracking to sponging to ragging, you can try out for yourself. View the paint effects project gallery. Plus get more inspiration with the habitat plus – paint effects book – view it online.

There are no rules

Resene Paint Effects

When using Paint Effects for your project, the key thing to remember is that there are no hard and fast rules about what you should do. Spend time getting the effect right by trialing different colours and application techniques until you are happy with the finished look. Then use your trial area as a reference board for the whole project. Wall sockets, skirting boards and door frames should be masked off so that the effect may be continued right to the edge.

All Paint Effects Medium colours shown have been created by adding one Resene 60ml testpot to one litre of Resene Paint Effects Medium. You can create your own personalised Paint Effects Medium colours simply by experimenting with testpots of your choice. It is often surprising the colour that results when a testpot is added to Resene Paint Effects Medium, so always make sure you test your colour before starting the project. By subtly adjusting either the basecoat or your chosen Resene Paint Effects Medium topcoat you can create a whole new effect. The key to paint effects is to develop your own colour combinations and application technique to add your distinctive mark to the completed job.

A range of paint effects colour combinations are available online to help you decide the effect that suits you. If you are hiring someone to create the painted effect for you, ask them to prepare a sample panel and agree on that as your standard before the job starts. This way, all parties will know what the finish will look like. If worse comes to worse and the final finish is not what you had in mind, you can always create a new paint effect by reapplying the basecoats and paint effects medium topcoat/s.

Pick the right product

Resene Paint Effects Medium is a tintable acrylic medium that allows you to easily create unique paint effects, while still enjoying the benefits of lower odour and easy clean up in water.

Resene Resitex or Resene Sandtex are good basecoats for paint effects as the texture adds an extra dimension to the effect.

A coat of Resene Concrete Clear may be applied to the finished paint effect to alter the gloss level and/or add durability to the finish. Over stains and on timber, use Resene Aquaclear. For floors use Resene Concrete Wax.

You can also use many other Resene products to make paint effects – from Resene Blackboard Paint to Resene Metallics, or even just your favourite testpot colours, a stencil, or low tack masking tape. All you need is a little imagination.

Tips and tricks to get you started

  • Work on a sample area first. This is especially important when ragging or sponging as the end result is dependent not only on the colour chosen, but the mix ratio and the style of technique. Remember that first efforts can be hidden by repainting with the basecoat and then restarting the effect as your paint effects expertise develops.

  • Keep notes of your recipes when creating intermixes or dilutions, as reproducing an exact colour match at a later date may be difficult.

  • Mask off wall sockets, skirting boards and doors to allow the effect to be carried right to the edge.

  • When mixing your paint effects medium, add the colour in small increments until you are satisfied with your sample. This will allow you to control the colour you create. If it is too subtle you can increase the amount of colour accordingly.

  • Allow dry time between coats of Resene Paint Effects Medium.

  • The addition of up to 10% Resene Hot Weather Additive will slow the drying of Resene Paint Effects Medium. This is particularly useful when ragrolling or colourwashing a large area.

  • Add up to 5% clean water to thin and improve the flow of the paint effects medium.

  • Clean up equipment in water.

  • Coverage varies greatly and is dependent upon the technique used and the substrate. On smooth surfaces, one litre of Paint Effects Medium will cover between 30 – 40 square metres per coat.

  • Always work from one edge of the surface to the other. Make large areas more manageable by breaking them into smaller strips. Keep a wet edge as you work across the wall.

  • If you need to take a break, stop at a natural break in the area you are working on, such as in a corner.

  • Wear protective gloves if ragrolling or sponging.

  • In all cases, read the appropriate can labels and data sheets before you start.

  • And most importantly, be patient! There is a paint effect finish to suit all tastes so take your time experimenting with different options. Creating paint effects can be tiring, so be realistic when starting your project. It may be better to start off with one small feature area first rather than tackling an entire room. 



Sponging creates a gently mottled or cloud-like effect with harmonising colours. Sponging is probably the easiest technique to master with an infinite variety of effects possible, according to the type of sponge, the way you wield it and your choice of colours. Furnishings and fabrics are easily coordinated by harmonising their hues, layer upon layer into the final sponged effect. In this way the neutral tonings of a carpet may be coordinated with the rich colouring of curtains and fabrics. Alternatively strikingly original combinations of colour and texture may be obtained with experimentation and imagination. For example, a darker colour sponged onto a lighter background will bring the walls in, while a combination of pale colours used over a darker background will give a cloudy or shadowed look.



  1. Apply two coats of Resene Lumbersider, Resene Zylone Sheen or Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen in your chosen basecoat colour and allow to dry normally.

  2. Mix Resene Paint Effects Medium with one testpot of Resene Lumbersider in your selected colour to produce a ‘sponging medium ’. The mix ratio should be between 60% Resene Paint Effects Medium to 40% your selected colour up to 95% Resene Paint Effects Medium to 5% your selected colour. The greater the proportion of Resene Paint Effects Medium the less opaque the finish will appear. For a subtle change add more Resene Paint Effects Medium. For a more striking effect, add less Resene Paint Effects Medium. Remember the final result depends on combining layers of colour and sponged effects.

  3. Brush the sponging medium onto a piece of stiff card or an artist ’s palette. This is used to charge your sponge with the medium. Avoid using saucers and roller trays, as these tend to clog the sponge.

  4. Dab the sponging medium onto the wall area using a light pecking motion, taking care to avoid a regular pattern. Changing the angle and pressure at which the sponge is impressed will help maintain the randomness of the finish.

  5. Allow the first sponged colour to dry, then repeat the sponging process with your second colour paying attention to spaces in your first pattern. If desired, a third colour can be used sparingly to complement the first two sponged colours.

Sponging tips and tricks:

  • Use a natural marine sponge dampened in freshwater. Clean the sponge regularly with freshwater during use and between coats to prevent paint clogging the sponge

  • Replenish the ‘charger’ frequently. If the sponge appears to have soaked up too much of the sponging medium, dab it onto a piece of spare card before applying to the area you are working on

  • Be careful not to get too enthusiastic with the sponge otherwise you may completely obliterate the basecoat colour

View samples 



Soft delicate colours through to strikingly rich colourways are easily obtained by using the colourwash technique. Colourwashing is a two step process where a basecoat colour is washed over with a stronger colour reduced with Resene Paint Effects Medium to produce an effect made up of different tones and textures. Traditionally, a white or off-white colour, such as Resene Pearl Lusta, was used as a basecoat; however, interesting effects may be obtained by using lighter shades of the colourwash colour, such as Resene Egg Sour colourwashed with Resene Corvette. More striking effects may be obtained by using contrasting shades, such as Resene Patina colourwashed with Resene Astral.



  1. Apply two coats of Resene Lumbersider, Resene Zylone Sheen or Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen in your chosen basecoat colour and allow to dry normally.

  2. Mix Resene Paint Effects Medium with one testpot of Resene Lumbersider in your selected colour to produce a ‘colourwashing medium ’. Bold effects can be achieved by selecting a testpot colour very different to the basecoat colour, while subtler effects can be achieved by selecting a testpot more similar in colour to the basecoat. The finished mix ratio should be between 70% Resene Paint Effects Medium to 30% your selected colour up to 95% Resene Paint Effects Medium to 5% your selected colour. The greater the proportion of Resene Paint Effects Medium the less opaque the finish will appear. For a subtle change add more Resene Paint Effects Medium. For a more striking effect, add less Resene Paint Effects Medium.

  3. Pour a small amount of the colourwash topcoat into a flat dish or roller tray.

  4. Dip a 125mm Resene Colourwash brush (or similar soft bristled brush) approximately 5mm into the medium and dab onto the wall 2 –3 times. Use the flat edge of the brush to spread the colourwash in a random manner.

  5. For a more intense and uniform effect a second colourwash colour can be applied. Simply mix the second paint colour with the Resene Paint Effects Medium and follow steps 3–4 above.

Colourwashing tips and tricks:

  • Colourwash effects can be softened using a dry brush or sponge to blend any obvious brushstrokes or heavy colour as the colourwash topcoat dries

  • Soften the bristles of the colourwash brush by soaking in water for 10 minutes to make application easier

  • Avoid obvious lapmarks by working along an ‘S ’ shaped wet edge. Finish brushstrokes to the edge of each drop working back on the succeeding drop

  • For a subtle finish, use a colourwash medium similar to the original basecoat

View samples 



Ragrolling adds subtle or bold textured effects reminiscent of marble and crushed velvet.

While ragrolling (also known as ragging) is one of the most difficult and time consuming paint effects, it can replicate the appearance of marble and crushed velvet, creating the subtle or rich finishes normally associated with the most expensive wallcoverings. The effect is achieved by using a bunched rag or cloth that is rolled or dabbed over the still wet medium, leaving random patterns as it distempers the surface.

Distinctive effects can be obtained by ragging with successive colours. An almost limitless choice of colours for both the base colour and the ragging medium allows you to easily select an effects scheme that will coordinate with the rest of the room.



  1. Apply two coats of Resene Lumbersider, Resene Zylone Sheen or Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen in your chosen basecoat colour and allow to dry normally.

  2. Mix Resene Paint Effects Medium with one testpot of Resene Lumbersider in your selected colour to produce a ‘ragrolling medium ’. The mix ratio should be between 70% Resene Paint Effects Medium to 30% your selected colour up to 95% Resene Paint Effects Medium to 5% your selected colour. The greater the proportion of Resene Paint Effects Medium the less opaque the finish will appear. For a subtle change add more Resene Paint Effects Medium. For a more striking effect, add less Resene Paint Effects Medium.

  3. To ragroll off, apply the ragging medium using a large soft brush to a section of the wall approximately one metre wide. The ragging medium must be applied relatively quickly. “Work” the medium using criss-cross brushstrokes, finally laying off the area in a vertical direction.

  4. Wrap your rag in a loose but compact bundle and roll it using light downwards pressure in random directions over the wet medium. Corners and misses can be touched up by using a light dabbing motion. The aim is to make an irregular pattern that also renders a uniform finish on the wall.

    Alternatively, ragroll on the Resene Paint Effects Medium by dabbing the rolled rag into the medium and applying it to the surface in a random manner.

Ragrolling tips and tricks:

  • Where possible work in a team of two. Ragrolling is less demanding, particularly on large areas, when two people work in tandem with the first person applying the ragging medium by brush and the second ragging off with the bundled rag

  • Ensure you have ample supplies of the ‘same’ rag or cloth, preferably from a common source, as the rags will require frequent changing during the ragging process. Rags from a single bedsheet will normally be sufficient to complete an average living room. Linen, baby nappies and even chamois leather make ideal tools for ragging. Ensure the rags are well washed and lint free.

View samples 



Dragging creates a finely striped effect often associated with antiques.

Dragging (often referred to as strie) is a finely striped paint effect created by dragging a dry brush or comb through the wet paint. Where the brush makes contact with the surface, the dragging medium is removed to reveal the basecoat. Dragging is an easy and popular method of redecorating furniture to achieve an aged finish and is the ideal way to rejuvenate secondhand furniture.



  1. Apply two coats of Resene Lumbersider, Resene Zylone Sheen or Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen in your chosen basecoat colour and allow to dry normally.

  2. Mix Resene Paint Effects Medium with one testpot of Resene Lumbersider in your selected colour to produce a ‘dragging medium’.

  3. Apply the dragging medium by brush or roller, then drag a dry brush or comb through the wet paint in the direction you wish the stripes to run (usually top to bottom). If working alone, apply the dragging medium in a strip one metre wide and create the dragging effect working up to 200mm from the edge of the painted strip. Then apply another strip of dragging medium and continue the dragging effect. If working with a partner, one can apply the dragging medium while the second person can follow creating the dragging effect.

Dragging tips and tricks:

  • Dragging works and looks best on small areas such as trim and joinery, furniture and small features like curtain rails. It can be difficult to maintain a consistent finish on a larger area.

  • Wipe the brush or comb with a cloth after each dragging movement to prevent clogging and an undefined finish.

  • Different dragging effects can be created by changing the brush being used and varying the pressure on the brush when it is being dragged.

  • If you make a mistake, re-roll the surface and start dragging afresh.

  • Creating dragging effects on large wall areas is best done by two people working in tandem. One person can apply the medium while the other follows creating the dragging effect.

  • Always drag along the grain when working on a wooden substrate.

View samples 



The washed out fresco and the soft painted look reminiscent of Mediterranean and Adobe architecture may be accurately reproduced by using the limewash effect, a two step process not dissimilar to colourwashing. The mood and effect created by limewashing lends itself equally well to both interior and exterior situations, particularly where a traditional or aged finish is desired. The obvious benefit is that a wide range of both unique and traditional colours ranging from oxides through to rich terracottas may be obtained with the resultant finish being both extremely durable and hardwearing. The limewash effect is ideal for any cementitious surface or as an effect to enhance a specialist finish, such as Resene Resitex or Resene X-200.



  1. Apply two coats of Resene Lumbersider, Resene Zylone Sheen or Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen in the appropriate basecoat colour.

  2. Apply Resene Paint Effects Medium mixed in the appropriate topcoat colour as per the colourwashing process.

The key difference between Colourwashing and Limewashing is the colour selection. Limewashing generally uses a lighter basecoat and a darker wash colour of a related colour (e.g.light blue and purple), while colourwashing effects are usually created using a darker basecoat with lighter washes.

Additional texture:

Apply the Limewash Effect over a Resene textured finish to add a tactile textured dimension to the finish. For a lightly textured finish use Resene Sandtex applied by brush,roller or spray. For a coarser texture try out one of the Resene Resitex range of products.

View samples 


Two-colour and two-style effects

Two-colour and two-style effects

To add another colour to your paint effects finish, mix the desired new colour with the paint effects medium and apply. Multiple colours are more successful when sponging or ragrolling. To create a more varied finish, use more than one paint effects technique – for example, colourwash on the first tinted paint effects medium and apply the second tinted paint effects medium using the sponging technique.

View samples


Touches of gold

Resene Gold Effects

Resene Gold Effects can be applied using any paint effects technique or over an existing paint effects finish to add an air of rich drama to the finish. Used sparingly, Resene Gold Effects can bring a dull paint effects finish to life. Gold effects can be created by mixing Resene Gold metallic with Resene Paint Effects Medium, to create a gold paint effect. Experiment with the ratio of gold paint to paint effects medium depending on the intensity of the effect desired.

View samples 


Daring to be different


Stippling is another popular paint effect resulting in a suede-like finish. A different colour topcoat is applied over a basecoat in 300mm wide strips. The wet paint is stabbed with a large, soft bristled brush to remove dots of paint. The effect of this technique is to break up the wall colour into a mass of very small dots, which lends a richness to the finish. Stipple effects usually involve two topcoat colours, but additional colours can be incorporated by stippling on, rather than stippling off.


Explore a range of sparkling colours with Resene Metallic Effects. Like a chameleon that changes colour according to its surroundings, light striking a surface coated with Resene Metallics creates the unexpected illusion of colour movement. Resene Metallics can also be used as a paint effects medium when brushed. Choose from a selection of metallic effects from the Resene Metallics and Special Effects Chart.


Resene Pearl Shimmer

Shimmering wall finishes are just a glaze coat away with Resene Pearl Shimmer acrylic pearlescent glaze. Ideal for creating softly sparkling illusions, Resene Pearl Shimmer is the perfect way to add visual interest and diversity to any colour scheme. Simply apply over existing paint systems or you can start from scratch applying two coats of a basecoat colour of your choice then finishing it with a single coat of pearlescent. Although spray application is the preferred application method to achieve an even finish, a shimmering paint effects finish can be achieved with brush application. See the Resene Metallics and Special Effects Chart for sample swatches.


Textured paint effect

All Paint Effects, including the special metallic and pearlescent effects, can be used over textured basecoats to give an added dimension to the finish. Textured basecoats will also help to hide surface imperfections and may even hide application imperfections. The most commonly used textured basecoat is Resene Sandtex – a lightly textured product that can be easily applied by brush, roller or spray. For a heavier textured effect, you can also select from the complete range of Resene Specialist Coatings. Ask at your local Resene ColorShop or Reseller to view the Resene Architectural Samples Box for a full range of textured samples.


Crackle paint effect

Broken, antique-looking finishes can be achieved using Resene FX Crackle. Crackled finishes are quick and easy to achieve - simply brush apply one coat of your chosen basecoat colour and allow to dry. Then apply Resene FX Crackle followed by an acrylic topcoat tinted to a contrasting colour. Resene FX Crackle will shrink causing the acrylic topcoat to crack revealing the contrasting basecoat colour. Crackle effect finishes are best used on uneven or rough walls, furniture, picture frames, woodwork and small feature areas. Contact your Resene representative, ColorShop or Reseller for further information.

Put your colour to the test

Resene testpots

No matter how you select your colours or effect, always use testpots to confirm your choices in the area you plan to paint. Resene testpots are available from your local Resene ColorShop or Reseller or you can order online from the Resene website. Resene testpots will not only simplify colour co-ordination but give you an opportunity to experiment with your effect.

Order Testpots   Paint Effects chart   Paint Effects gallery

View habitat plus – paint effects for more ideas

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