Wall Washing vs. Wall Grazing
Illuminating walls control how surfaces and spaces are perceived. This design tactic accentuates different aesthetics and characteristics of the room. Bathing your wall in light by wall washing will eliminate shadows on the wall and emphasize smoothness. Wall washing provides uniform lighting to flood the surface which opens up the space—making the room feel bigger and brighter. It is also perfect for highlighting art pieces and photographs. Utilizing wall grazing, on the other hand, will enhance textures on the surface by creating shadows. Wall grazing is perfect for accenting stone, brick, and stucco walls. It is also effective on statues and carvings.
Both, wall washing and wall grazing, are dramatic styles of lighting that adds character and draws attention to a room. Let’s take a look at how we can achieve these two styles below.
Mounting Ceiling Fixtures
Adjustable fixtures, such as track lighting, are perfect for wall wash and wall grazing applications. For more a more discreet aesthetic, recessed wall wash trims are available. Adjustable gimbal trims are also a good choice to effective wall washing and grazing.
When mounting your fixture to the ceiling, it is important to take note of its distance from the wall that it’s illuminating.
To get the wall wash effect, the fixture should be mounted at a distance that allows the beam spread to hit the wall at a wide angle. For a wall that is 8 to 9 feet tall, the light fixture should be installed 3 feet or more from the wall.
To achieve the wall grazing effect, position the fixture closer to the wall (2.5 feet or less), forcing the beam of light to hit the wall at a narrow angle. Changing the angle of the light beam will deepen or diminish shadows—the more narrow the angle, the deeper the shadow; wider angles result in lighter shadows.