Wall washing—often called light washing—is a method of lighting that covers a large area with light. It's best for large, flat walls.
The name wash refers to several different aspects of this lighting technique. First, you're flushing the entire wall with light, and light is everywhere. Second, the job of the wash light is to wash away any small imperfections on the wall, making it look flat and smooth. Wall washing occurs when the entire wall is illuminated evenly from top to bottom.
This method hides blemishes or imperfections by removing shadows and is often used on walls with smooth, light, and matte finishes. Wall washing techniques emphasize vertical surfaces and make smaller spaces feel more expansive in the senses, ideal for accentuating specific focal points. Depending on the color of the walls, wall washing can increase the overall lighting of the space.To create a wall wash effect, lights need to be installed at or above ceiling height so they can effectively "wash" vertical spaces up to 9 or 10 feet. They also need to be far enough from the wall so that the light can travel with a wider beam angle, usually about 3 to 4 feet. The light should be angled at eye level or towards the center of the feature or artwork you want to highlight. We recommend using multi-directional fixtures such as track lights or eyeball can light for wall washing.
Wall grazing is designed to have the opposite effect: to accentuate textured vertical surfaces by exaggerating shadows. With light on top of a stone or textured surface, wall grazing creates noticeable shadows that make the wall look more dramatic. If these surfaces are illuminated using wallwashing techniques, they will appear flat and "washed out" - which is hardly the look you want for a home limestone exterior, for example. Skimming a wall with light is accomplished by positioning the light fixture close to the wall surface at an acute angle from a ceiling-mounted light or above to create a strong Imageshadow effect. The effect adds drama and draws attention to the rough surface of the walls.
Please see the comparison chart of the effect of Wall Washing and Wall Grazing at the top right.
(1)Wall washing is an outdoor wall lighting technique best suited for large areas without much texture.
(2)One of the main goals of wall washing is to remove shadows, which creates a blank canvas for the rest of your outdoor lighting.
(3)Wall washes are most effective on light-colored walls with a matte texture.
(4)Wall washing is a great technique if you want to give the impression that the wall is bigger than it is. By removing shadows and imperfections, it can make walls appear more open.
(5)A wall washer is an outdoor wall light that can also be used as indirect ambient lighting for nearby areas such as porches, patios, and decks. A lot of light from a wall wash will bounce back and illuminate the surrounding area.
When Not to Use Wall Washing
(1)For very dark walls, washing the lights won't do much.
(2)If the wall is particularly shiny—for example, a polished stone wall—the wash lights run the risk of intense glare. At night, a dark, shiny wall can be turned into a giant mirror, reflecting the bright wash light into the eyes of any unfortunate bystander.
Depending on the effect you want to achieve, each method draws attention to the wall by manipulating how a particular space or surface appears to the human eye. Unlike wall washes, which accentuate wall features, wall washes turn the wall itself into the focal point of the room. Wall washers illuminate walls at wider angles, creating clear, bright walls and highlighting anything on them, while the wall scrub brushes the surface of the wall at narrow angles, highlighting the beauty of rough or interesting textures through shadows. Both techniques draw attention to walls and are a unique way to control how certain spaces or surfaces appear to the human eye.
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