Easy 3-Tone Painted Wainscoting

Carry this paint treatment diagonally up a stairway wall to create an eye-catching wainscot and chair rail without the cost.


Painted wall-finished

  • Three colors of paint
  • Measuring tape
  • Laser level
  • Painter's tape
  • Paint brushes and rollers


Paint on roller

Step 1: Select three paint colors. We chose a light beige and two darker beiges below it on the paint card. Paint your wall the lightest color. Shown here: Tapestry Beige #975, Coastal Fog #976, and Brandon Beige #977 from Benjamin More.

Staircase before

Step 2: Measure the height of the banister. The narrow painted stripe, which mimics a chair rail, should be the same height. With a helper and using a laser level and the banister measurement, lightly mark points every two feet up the stairway wall. Use painter's tape to connect the marks; align the bottom of the tape on the marks, forming a diagonal line. Repeat, taping four or five inches below the top tape line.

Tape wall

Step 3: Paint the lower wall the darkest color. Carefully remove the bottom tape; let paint dry. Tape again, aligning the top of the tape on the edge of the dark color. Use the medium color to paint the area between the two tape lines. Remove tape.

One More Budget Idea:
Create charming art by matting and framing vintage handkerchiefs. We picked these up for $1 each from an antiques store.