How to Paint a Buffalo Check Pattern

A classic buffalo plaid is surprisingly simple to paint. The four-step process only requires three coordinating paint shades and a handful of simple tools, making it the perfect weekend project.
Buffalo check

Buffalo check isn't just for flannel shirts. This trendy plaid is making a comeback in every aspect of home design, including textiles, accents, and wall treatments. Though you could opt for a wallpaper buffalo check pattern, the plaid painting technique isn't as difficult as you might think.

There's a secret formula for finding the perfect color combination for your buffalo check. Start by choosing the shade of your dark stripe. For the medium stripe, ask your paint dealer to mix the dark color at 25 percent. For the light stripe, mix a 1:1 ratio of the medium paint color and white paint. Once you have your stripe colors, follow our step-by-step guide for applying the pattern.

  • Working Time 5 Hours
  • Start to Finish 24 Hours
  • Difficulty         Select Projects Kind of Easy
  • Involves Painting, Measuring

What you need


  • Metal ruler
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • 2-inch angled brush


  • White paint
  • Quart light stripe paint, we mixed 1 part white to 1 part Benjamin Moore in Hale Navy HC-154
  • Quart medium stripe paint, we used Benjamin Moore in Hale Navy HC-154 mixed at 25 percent (x1)
  • Quart dark stripe paint, we used Benjamin Moore in Hale Navy HC-154 (x1)
  • Painters tape

How to do it

Step 1 Measure and Level

Apply white paint as a base coat to walls; let dry four hours. Once dry, use a metal ruler, a level, and a pencil to mark vertical and horizontal lines spaced 4 inches apart.

Step 2 Paint Lines

Paint lines

Use a 2-inch angled brush for freehand straight line painting, alternating horizontal lines in the lightest paint color. Let dry. For crisp lines, use painters tape to outline stripes before painting.

Step 3 Paint Medium Lines

Paint medium lines

Use a 2-inch angled brush to freehand paint (or mark off with tape) the vertical lines in the medium paint color. Let dry.

Step 4 Fill in the Dark

Fill in the dark

Use painters tape to mask off squares where vertical and horizontal lines intersect. Paint these squares the darkest paint color.

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