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Wall washing: what is it and when is it best to use it?

There is a chance that you have come across this term several times in your search for the most suitable lighting for your home or business. Or you may have already unknowingly come into contact with it when you recently went to an art exhibition and that one piece of art was properly exposed.

Wall washing of course has nothing to do with washing your walls, but with the effect of indirect lighting on the walls. We briefly explain what wall washing exactly means and when to best apply this lighting technique.

Wall washing explained

Wall washing is a lighting technique in which vertical, indirect lighting is placed in the ceiling or floor at a wider distance from the wall. This way, the light can fall down on the wall in an equal, uniform way. This provides a "washed" effect of the wall so that shadows and defects disappear from the wall. The distance to be taken into account always depends on the wall washing profile and the specific situation.

Kreon offers different profiles that can be used for wall washing, for example: the kreon rei wall washer profile that is placed about 900 mm from the wall, the kreon wall washer uplighters up and up in-line where the distance will be determined by the specific type uplighter and the height to be illuminated. The same applies to the kreon wall washer downlights aplis, aplis in-line, down and down in-line.

Another important aspect to take into account with wall washing is that the fixtures are attached to the ceiling or floor at regular intervals. This distance determines the brightness of the surface.

However, wall washing is not to be confused with wall grazing. The latter is a lighting technique in which the indirect lighting is placed in the floor or ceiling at a smaller distance from the wall so that the details of the wall catches the eye. Think, for example, of walls made of stone or brick.

lighting design-wall washing-focus on space


Focus on wall and creation of space

When you use wall washing, the focus will always be on the exposed wall. With this lighting technique, the light will be reflected vertically on the matt walls. This has the effect that a room will look bright and softly lit. In other words, wall washing can make a narrow space such as a corridor appear larger. That, incidentally, is the great advantage of indirect lighting: because you reflect light on certain parts of the environment, you can substantially enlarge a space. With wall washing it is therefore not so much about the lighting itself, but rather about the impact of vertical lighting on the space and architecture of the building.

When carefully designed, the illuminated wall can have a strong and clear impact on the room. Wall washing can therefore also ensure that a certain object such as a painting is extra accentuated on an empty wall and therefore catches the eye. Moreover, it is often used in contemporary architecture to emphasize the size of a building. Wall washing can therefore be applied both inside and outside the building.

Key aspects of wall washing

To optimally achieve the effect of wall washing, there are a few things that you should take into account:

  • Provide a white or light matte color on the walls for optimum light reflection. Dark surfaces reflect a lot less light.
  • Pay attention to the distance between the fixtures and the wall. Lighting that is placed too close to the wall is more likely to create a wall grazing effect. This means that the focus will be on the details of the walls instead of the wall as a large spatial surface.
  • Take into account the strength of your lamps in combination with fewer matt walls when you want to apply this technique. Walls that are too lit and smooth can cause glare.

The right lighting technique naturally depends on what effect you want to achieve. If you want to enlarge the spaces in your home or office, wall washing can be the perfect solution.

Would you like to know more about Kreon's indirect lighting? Then download our Tools of Lights catalog now.

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