DIY: Ombre colorwash concrete walls / by Beth Winegarner


OK, I promise this isn't going to turn into a DIY home improvement blog, but I do have some projects going on that I'd like to share here. This is one of them.

We have these steps that lead from our back door to our garage. They're perfectly fine. Sturdy, concrete; they get the job done. But after almost 7 years of looking at them (and the walls surrounding them) several times a week, I was getting tired of the plain concrete. Actually, the walls weren't even plain -- they had some weird stains and paint blobs and differently colored parts. I wondered if I could make them look nicer. 



I imagined a nice ombre blue, so that it would feel like you were sinking deeper as you go down the steps. Finding instructions for painting ombre walls isn't difficult. I didn't want a thick mask of color -- I wanted something a little lighter, like a wash. But it's not easy to find info online on doing colorwashes at all, let alone on concrete. So I had to read a lot and come up with a plan I thought would work. And it did!

I worked from these basic ombre wall instructions. I chose 4 colors from a single paint strip, so I knew they were designed to work together. I used an exterior flat latex paint. I divided the walls into 4 equal strips, marked with chalk, knowing I would leave a gap of a few inches on either side of the chalk line. (When I did the blended sections, I just painted right over the chalk -- it gets swept up in the paint and doesn't show through.)


I mixed about 2 parts with 1 part water (or maybe a little less) and applied it with a brush. You could use a roller, but some parts of my walls were really textured and I wanted a brush so I could get into all the cracks and crannies. I started from the bottom, which I DO NOT recommend. Instead, start at the top -- that way you can paint over any drips as you work downward -- watered-down paint is really drippy.

Paint your top color. Then your second-from-the-top color. Then use the technique in the ombre wall post: dip one side of your paint in the darker color, and the other side in the lighter color, and use it to fill in the space between the two colors. This helps create a nice gradient between the two. 


Then paint the third strip, and use the two-tone paintbrush technique again to create the ombre/blended color space between the two. Repeat with the fourth strip (or however many you're doing). 

Touch up any drips or other areas that aren't quite right. And you're done!