Description of Job
• Design and specify specialty interior painting.
• Apply special effects.
• Finish and clean up interior work.
There is no law that says interior walls need to be coated with flat, boring
An interesting alternative for many homeowners is to decorate using techniques such as marbling, stenciling, sponging, strié (dragging), ragging, rag
rolling, stippling, distressing, and faux finishing. In most cases, amateurs are not
trained or equipped to perform such work.
This sort of job is usually limited to one or two rooms in a house and therefore may be less attractive to a commercial painter; the skills involved are also
different from those required to paint a living room off-white.
You need to understand and master a range of special techniques and tools. Make
sure your clients understand exactly what effect they are requesting.
You can practice many of the techniques in your own home; you might want
to create a room—perhaps a den, a section of the basement, or even the interior
of your garage—and create examples of the sort of work you are available to
Know the Territory
There are many web sites and books that describe various techniques and tools
for specialty painting. Many large home supply and craft stores offer classes on
specialty painting. Here are some interesting techniques:
• Glazing or color washing. Dilute paints or varnishes to thin them so they
can be used to apply a transparent or translucent film of color.
• Stippling, or pouncing. This process delivers a sandy or lightly patterned effect using a specialized stippling brush to modify the surface of
• Ragging, or rag rolling. A second glaze color, of a different hue, is wiped
into place with a rag to create a purposely uneven effect.
• Strié, or dragging. A glaze is applied to a base color, then a dry brush is
dragged over the glaze in a vertical or horizontal direction to create fine
• Sponging. A rough sponge is used to apply an uneven finish to a base coat
or to a second coat of paint in a contrasting color.
• Stenciling. You may hand-paint stenciled designs to a painted wall.
How to Get Started
Post flyers and ads at community centers, in home outlet stores, and on bulletin
boards. Place ads in newspapers and shopping guides.
Offer to conduct a class at a community school to get some publicity and perhaps some clients. Buy a table at home decorating and crafts shows to display
samples of some of your work.
Make contact with interior decorators and contractors in your area; do the
same with commercial painting companies that do not compete with you for specialty jobs. Offer a bonus or commission for business they refer to you.
You will need specialty brushes, sponges, stencils, and other equipment, as well
as basic painting tools such as ladders, trays, rollers, tarpaulins, plastic sheeting,
and masking tape.
You will have to bear the cost of experiments and practice sessions you conduct as well as preparation of a display room or a photo album or web site to
show examples of your work.
You’ll need a vehicle large enough to transport your equipment. Other
expenses include research books, classes, advertising, and promotion.
How Much to Charge
Most painters quote a fixed price for a job, based on a careful estimate of the
number of hours it will require plus the cost of paint and other materials. Many
specialty paint jobs require multiple applications of wall covering. Some jobs are
quoted on a cost-plus basis: a charge for hours of work plus the actual cost of
paint and other supplies.
Prices for specialty painting are usually higher than those for standard indoor
work because of the extra time, materials, and skill required.