How to Create a Striped-Wall Paint Design that Looks Classic and Crisp

Update boring walls to a classic horizontal or vertical stripe design with our step-by-step guide and expert tips on how to achieve perfectly crisp lines.

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 6 hours
  • Total Time: 2 days
  • Skill Level: Beginner

A striped wall paint design adds bold interest to plain spaces, whether a sophisticated tone-on-tone color scheme or a delightful blend of bright hues. A striped wall pattern is easy to create with just a few inexpensive materials and your favorite paint colors.

While a steady hand and the proper brush can yield a charming hand-painted look, we recommend using painters tape to create crisp lines. Before you begin, grab some of your favorite paint samples, and test them out before painting stripes.

Plan to keep stripe colors similar in value. For a high-end look, use closely related hues of the same color—two shades of tan or three shades of blue, for example. You can use a high-contrast striped wall in small areas, such as below a chair rail or on an accent wall.

In addition to color, consider the design of your stripes. Vertical stripes can make a wall look taller, a desirable effect for most rooms. Similarly, horizontal stripes can make a short wall appear wider, causing the entire room to seem larger. The width of the stripe is key, too. Broad stripes in a small space might be overpowering but stylishly suit larger settings.

Once you've chosen your paint colors and pattern, follow our simple steps to learn how to paint stripes. Coupled with expert advice, you'll have crisp, clean wall stripes in no time.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 Paint roller
  • 1 Paint tray
  • 1 Yardstick
  • 1 Colored pencil to match the stripe color
  • 1 Carpenter's level
  • 1 Trim brush

Materials

  • 1 Paint, in desired colors
  • 1 Low-tack painters tape

Instructions

  1. Paint Base Coat

    Using a paint roller, apply a base coat of paint on a clean, dry wall; let dry. Apply a second coat if needed and allow it to dry. Use painters tape to mask around doors, windows, the ceiling, and the floor or baseboards, as needed.

  2. Measure and Divide Wall

    How To Paint Stripes horizontal
    Jay Wilde

    Measure the desired width of the stripes. Divide the wall into even increments. 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—regular graphite pencil lines are harder to cover and could smudge.

    Editor's Tip: Start in the least noticeable corner of the room so uneven stripes will be less noticeable. You might need to adjust the last few stripes, so you don't end up with a narrow stripe at the end. When you reach a corner, you can adjust the stripe width or wrap the color around the corner.

  3. Trace Lines and Apply Painters Tape

    How To Paint Stripes vertical
    Jay Wilde

    Draw vertical or horizontal lines at each of your marks. For this tutorial, we created vertical stripes. Use a carpenter's level to extend the hash marks vertically from ceiling to baseboard lightly. Periodically measure the stripes to make sure they remain parallel and even.

    For a crisp line, tape before painting. Place a line of painters 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, press the edge of the tape down to seal it to the wall. First, paint over the tape edge with the base coat and let dry to prevent the stripe color from bleeding underneath the tape. If any paint bleeds under the tape, it will be the base color and not noticeable.

  4. Cut-In Left Side of Stripe

    painting vertical stripe
    Jay Wilde

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

  5. Fill-In Stripe Center

    filling in vertical stripe
    Jay Wilde

    Fill in the center of each stripe. Paint the center of the stripe using long, vertical strokes. If your stripe pattern is wide enough, you can use a roller brush for this step.

  6. Cut-In Right Side of Stripe

    vertical stripes painting
    Jay Wilde

    Cut in the right edge of each stripe. 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 with a small artist's brush. Remove the tape as soon as possible, and always within 60 minutes.

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