Painting Stripes

Striped walls have held strong in popularity for several years now. I think their staying power has a lot to do with the fact that they are pretty versatile, customizable and classic- if done right.

I’ll let you in on a little secret… painting stripes is EASY! I have painted them several times and, through a little trial and error, I’ve come up with a pretty fool-proof method for achieving the perfect striped wall.

See step 5 for the top secret (or maybe not-so-secret) key to achieving a perfect stripe.

So here goes. You will need the following tools:

  • tape measure
  • painter’s tape
  • level
  • pencil
  • ruler
  • paint and brushes (obviously)

So, let’s get into it!

Step 1: Paint basecoat

Pick your lighter color and paint the whole wall. Pretty simple (I told you it’s easy!)

Step 2: Map stripes

Figure out how many stripes you want and how wide each stripe will be. To do this, take the total height (for horizontal stripes) or width (for vertical stripes) of your wall and divide by your desired number of stripes. Keep in mind that you might end up with a funny number (like 6 3/8ths inches). An easy way to avoid having to measure it over and over is to mark the spot on your ruler with some painter’s tape. (In a pinch, I’ve measured and marked a paint stirrer in place of the ruler.)

Step 3: Mark wall

Take your handy taped ruler (or paint stirrer) and mark your wall every 15-20 inches across the entire length (or width) of the wall. The idea- and you probably saw this coming- is to be able to connect these marks with your painter’s tape in the next step. Keep in mind that, if your walls or floors aren’t perfectly level, you could end up with crooked stripes. This is where it could get a little tricky (but don’t worry).

If they aren’t level, mark a baseline. Instead of measuring and marking your first line from the floor, all the way across, start with just one mark. Then use a level to continue your marks across the wall. That way, your first stripe will be level. Then, all of your other stripes will be marked off of that, perfectly-level line.

Step 4: Tape wall

Decide which color each stripe will be. Quick tip- If you are painting horizontal stripes, make your top stripe the base color. That way, you won’t have to worry about cutting in on the ceiling twice. You’ll also spend less time up on a ladder this way. 

Start taping. Remember that when taping the accent color stripes, you need to tape along the outside of your marks. Conversely, for the base color stripes, tape the inside of your marks (you will only be painting the accent color). Double check your lines with your level.

Step 5 (The KEY to getting a perfect stripe): Seal tape

I discovered this method after removing the tape on my first-ever striped wall only to discover that many of my tape lines had bled. When the sadness/anger wore off, I thought “there’s got to be another way!” And there is! Even the best painter’s tape will bleed sometimes, so the key to avoiding paint bleed is to seal the tape.

After you have taped off all of your lines, take the base color and paint along the edge of the tape- INSIDE the lines where the accent color will eventually be. Like this:

Painting Stripes, Sealing the paint, The Busy Girl Blog

The idea, here, is that the base color will fill in all of the gaps/tiny air bubbles in the tape that would have otherwise caused a bleed. You want to make sure and brush out, across the edge of the tape, so it seals properly.

Step 6: Paint accent color

Once the seal paint is dry, you are ready to paint your accent color. Paint inside your tape lines. I like to do 2 coats, at least, just to make sure I have even coverage. Of course this all depends on how dark your base color is.

Painting Stripes, Accent Color, The Busy Girl Blog

These stripes were for my baby niece’s room.

Step 7: Remove tape

When you feel like you have enough coats of paint for even coverage, remove your painter’s tape.

Quick tip: Remove your painter’s tape before the top coat of paint is completely dry. That way, the paint won’t adhere to the tape and pull off with it. 

Painting Stripes, The Busy Girl Blog

And that’s it! Stand back and admire your perfectly painted stripes.


Painting Stripes by The Busy Girl Blog

Painting stripes takes a little bit of time and precision, but it’s a very achievable one-day project. Good luck, you can do it!


Do you have any tried and true painting tips? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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