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Tips for Painting Stripes On A Wall Horizontally

Updated on September 26, 2017
Matt G. profile image

Matt is a professional painter sharing house-painting tips, related product reviews, and his experience in the trade.

Painting Stripes On Walls

Painting stripes on walls adds decorative flare to an otherwise boring room with a plain paint job. Horizontal stripes can make walls appear wider, while vertical striping can give the illusion of walls looking taller.

Wall striping is time consuming, requiring measuring and careful taping, but any homeowner can complete this project on a weekend with the right know-how.

Paint Color Schemes for Wall Stripes

There are a number of ways to present wall stripes and colors. One of the easiest schemes for wall striping is the two-tone effect. Simply split the wall in two, with the darker color painted on the bottom and the lighter color on top.

Another simple two-tone striping scheme is to paint the entire room in the lighter color, then paint one very thin horizontal stripe in the center of each wall, using the darker color. Painting five to seven horizontal stripes, using two different colors looks amazing too, but also takes the most time to measure, tape and paint.

I recently striped two walls for a customer who chose four different colors, most of which were different shades of brown. The stripe pattern started with the lightest color on the bottom and grew darker all the way to the top of the wall.

When it comes to choosing colors for wall stripes, take a look at the color wheel for inspiration. The most common color scheme for painted wall stripes is the monotone effect. Select two similar tones, or shades, of one paint color. To draw more attention to wall stripes, use a complementary scheme, such as red and green. These are two colors that are completely opposite from each other on the color wheel.

Measure and Mark the Walls

Measuring is the least enjoyable part of this project, but also the most important. If you don't measure, the stripes will probably look sloppy and uneven. It really pays to spend time measuring and marking the walls with a pencil, so it's easier to craft each stripe line later.

Getting the measurements right is easy and anyone can do it. For example, if you are painting four horizontal stripes on a wall, simply measure the entire height of the wall, divide by four and the total will be the required width for each wall stripe.

Use a stepladder to measure and mark the wall for the top stripe first. Use a pencil, not a pen. Make small pencil markings all the way across the wall for each individual stripe. I like to make multiple markings about three inches apart all the way across. This way it's easier to tape the line.

Create Horizontal Stripe Lines

There are a few different ways to do this, but for a small wall, I prefer to use a four foot level and a pencil. For really long walls, it is usually easier to snap a chalk line. If you are working by yourself and need to snap a chalk line, simply hammer a small nail into the wall, hook the end of the cord onto it and snap the line. Fill in the hole later with patching compound.

Another way to create stripe lines is with a laser level, but protective glasses should be worn to prevent potential eye damage. There are laser levels that come on a telescoping pole for easy height adjustment. Those work best for long horizontal stripes on big walls.

The fastest way to make a stripe line is by snapping a chalk line, but be careful not to use too much chalk inside the chalk box otherwise the line will appear too thick, or distorted, which can make it difficult to form a nice straight line with tape.

Carefully tape each line all the way across the wall, using blue painter's tape. Do not use white tape because white tape doesn't leave a crisp line and it will probably tear the existing paint off of the wall during removal.

It is a good idea to avoid tearing off separate pieces of tape while taping the line. This increases the chances of the line appearing uneven and wavy. Use one long continuous piece of tape to get the best results. After applying the tape, rub a flat head screwdriver over the top edge to completely seal the surface and prevent the stripe paint from bleeding underneath.

Paint the Stripes

It is best to cut-in everything with the paint brush first and then fill in the middle with the paint roller. Personally, I like to cut-in everything complete and quickly pull the tape off before rolling. That way there's less of a chance for paint to leak underneath the tape.

I like to use a paint brush, instead of a roller, to paint over the taped line. This is because a roller tends to pile up the paint too heavily at the edges, causing the line to look a little odd after pulling the tape off.

After the paint dries completely, you can tape the other side of the line, to paint the other color, or carefully cut it in with a quality paint brush. Personally, I prefer to cut-in the other side with my best brush instead of waiting for the paint to dry for new tape.

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