How to Paint Stunning Stripes

Here's the step-by-step instruction on painting your walls with pretty stripes. Don't miss the tips and tricks section and our additional color suggestions as well.


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In a sophisticated tone-on-tone color scheme or delightfully bright circus-tent colors, stripes add quick interest to plain walls. A steady hand and the proper brush yield a charming hand-painted look. Taping lends the feel of precision, with a crisp line.

The possibilities are seemingly endless when striping a wall. Don't miss our alternate colors and advice as well as the step-by-step photos and instructions. You'll be striping it rich in no time!

+ enlarge image Top coat: Spirit Whisper, 420A-2

The soft shades of green and blue are minty sweet. A blue base coat (Fountain Sprout) provides one stripe; green (Spirit Whisper) forms a second for a pattern that looks more complex than it is.

These stripes are hand-painted along a pencil line to give them a slightly imperfect edge. For a straight line, use painter's tape to mask off the stripes. For bolder stripes, choose brighter colors or a pair with more contrast.

Tone-on-tone variations of the same hue give a wall a subtle, classic look. The sheen also can vary, with one stripe flat and the other glossy.

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  • Behr paints: Fountain Sprout 2059-70 (base coat) and Spirit Whisper 420A-2 (top coat). Semigloss is preferred, but any sheen will work.
  • 9-inch paint roller and tray for base coat
  • Low-tack painter's tape (optional)
  • Yardstick (optional)
  • Colored pencil to match the stripe color
  • Long carpenter's level
  • Trim brush

Instructions

+ enlarge image Base coat: Fountain Sprout, 2059-70

1. Using a paint roller, base-coat a clean, dry wall with Fountain Sprout; let dry. Apply a second coat if needed and allow to dry. Use painter's tape to mask around doors, windows, the ceiling, and the floor if desired.

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2. Measure the width of the stripes. Divide the wall into even increments. The stripes shown here measure 5 inches, but you may need to adjust the width to fit your wall or for the look you want. Using a colored pencil that matches the stripe color, make a light hash mark at each increment.

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3. Draw the vertical lines. Using a carpenter's level, lightly extend the hash marks vertically from ceiling to baseboard. Periodically measure the stripes to make sure they remain parallel and even.

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4. Cut in the left edge. Cut in along the ceiling with a trim brush and Spirit Whisper. Paint the left edge of the stripe, covering the pencil line. Reload the paintbrush as needed so the color is opaque and even.

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5. Fill in the center. Paint the center of the stripe using long, vertical strokes.

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6. Cut in the right edge. Edge the right side of the stripe, covering the pencil line. Cut in along the baseboard. Repeat for each remaining stripe. Touch up any uneven spots.

+ enlarge image Peas in a Pod 430B-4 Fairway Mist 430A-3
  • Paint one or more sample boards to explore the color options. Adjust the amount of contrast between the colors and the overall brightness if necessary.
  • Try using more than one color for the stripes. Look to striped fabrics for ideas about combinations of colors and widths.
  • Combine different paint sheens for even more interest; for example, if the base coat is flat, paint the stripes semigloss.
  • Use a colored pencil that matches the stripe color for marking the wall. Regular graphite pencil lines are harder to cover and may smudge.
  • When measuring the wall, start in the least noticeable corner of the room so uneven stripes will be less obvious. You may need to adjust the last few stripes so you don't end up with one narrow stripe at the end. When you reach a corner, you can adjust the stripes' width or wrap the color around the corner.
+ enlarge image Pale Daffodil 350F-4 Bicycle Yellow 370A-3
  • For a crisp line, tape off the stripes using blue painter's tape. Place a line of tape just outside each pencil line so the stripe will cover the pencil line. Using the back of a plastic tool handle or an old credit card, zip the edge of the tape down hard to seal it to the wall.
  • To prevent the stripe color from bleeding underneath the tape, first paint over the tape edge with the base coat; let dry. If any paint bleeds under the tape, it will be the base color and not noticeable.
  • Paint the contrasting stripe, and remove the tape as soon as possible, and always within 60 minutes.
  • If a stripe has an uneven edge, touch it up with a small artist's brush.
+ enlarge image Salmon Creek 260C-2 Coral Confection 270C-3 Fresh Peaches 260C-3
  • Stripes are as fashionable on walls as on clothing and the same fashion rules apply to both.
  • Vertical stripes can make a wall look taller. While this is desirable in most rooms, a small space with high ceilings may look awkward and gangly with vertical stripes.
  • Horizontal stripes can make a short wall appear wider, causing the whole room to seem larger. The width of the stripe is key, too.
  • Narrow stripes in a large room may tend to disappear or blend together.
  • Wide stripes in a small room can be overpowering and box you in.
+ enlarge image Ocean Dream 580B-4 Crocus Petal 610A-2 Pacific Panorama 570A-3
  • High contrast stripes such as black and white or red and yellow can overpower a room. They can, however, be used successfully in small areas such as below a chair rail.
  • Keeping the colors similar in value, both light or both dark, is easier on the eye and prevents one stripe from popping out against the other.
  • Tone-on-tone: For a high-end look, use closely related hues of the same color -- two shades of tan or three shades of blue, for example.

Painter: Patricia Mohr Kramer

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