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Striping Paint Technique

Stripes are a great decorative technique for your walls. It's a fun look that will really make a room -- and your home -- unique.

More in Painting

stripes are great decorative technique for walls Watch Video

Step 1: Choose Vertical or Horizontal Stripes

A subtle striping technique, with alternating flat and glossy stripes, can add perceived dimension to a room. They are classic, elegant and never go out of style. Horizontal stripes make a room appear more spacious; vertical stripes make the ceiling appear higher. Tone-on-tone vertical striping was the technique we used in our demonstration.

Here's how we did it -- plus a few tips to make the job even easier.

striping can add perceived dimension to room

Step 2: Prep Work

Striping is a very simple technique. And the final effect can add to the perceived size and dimension of a room. Just remember to measure and tape carefully (anything that's not straight will be very noticeable) and to take your time.

As with all paint projects, prep work is key. First paint a base coat on the walls; for stripes that's really important because the base coat will be one of the stripes. Use a flat paint that is exactly the same color as the stripe to be painted on. It's also important that the base coat dry for 48 hours before you start to work on the stripes.

prep work is key

Step 3: Measure and Mark the Walls

After the base coat is completely dry, begin measuring and marking the walls for the stripes.

Measure the wall, starting in the corner that's least seen.

Next, divide the wall. Stripes should be between 4" and 12" wide. (A width of less than 4" would be too narrow and busy; more than 12", too wide and heavy. We're doing 8" stripes.) Place the first strip of tape in that obscure corner where you began measuring.

begin measuring and marking walls for stripes

Step 4: Make a 'Tape' Measure

Make a "tape legend" for easy measuring. First tear off a strip of low-tack painter's tape, 4' to 6' long. Stick it to the wall for easy handling and using a tape measure, mark it with dots corresponding to the width of the stripes you wish to paint. This will keep you from having to measure each stripe as you tape the wall.

make tape legend for easy measuring

Step 5: Press the Strip of Tape to the Wall

Place the end dot on the tape you've already applied to the wall and press the strip to the wall.

Next, use a laser level to shoot a beam onto the second dot; pull the tape loose at that point. The beam from the level will show you exactly where to place the next strip of tape. (You can rent or buy a laser level. Just set it up in the middle of the room and you can turn it so it hits every wall as you work your way around the room.)

Tip: Remember that because you will be painting only every other stripe, you'll need to tape out the pattern so that every other stripe is outlined by the tape. Make sure to tape outside the chalk line; fresh paint will cover up the lines.

Tip: You can also make the lines with a chalk line. Use blue chalk because red or yellow is a permanent color.

press strip of tape to wall

Step 6: Adjust the Width

It's unlikely that the measurements will work out perfectly. Any small differences won't be seen, however, because you started in an obscure corner. If you want to be more exact, adjust the width of the stripes on the last wall. A 1/4" to 1/2" difference won't be visible to the eye.

Step 7: Burnish the Wall

Burnish wall with burnisher (a credit card works too) to seal the tape edges so no paint seeps underneath the tape.

Step 8: Paint Over the Tape

Paint over the tape line with a semigloss paint, making sure to cover the entire area of each stripe (anything missed will show up as a contrast in sheens). One coat should be enough.

paint overp tape line with semigloss paint

Step 9: Remove the Tape

Remove the tape once you've painted the wall, angling away from the freshly painted area as you pull (image 3 and 4)

A few last tips about color in different rooms:

  • Blue is a great color for a bedroom: it's serene and calming.
  • Red is a good color for stripes in a dining room: it stimulates the appetite.
  • For a foyer, shades of yellow and orange are welcoming colors.
  • Shades of yellow and cream are soft and luxurious.
  • Painting stripes with contrasting colors will create drama.

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