How to Make a DIY Painted Arch

Painted arch over a bed like a headboard

Dream Green DIY

Overview
  • Working Time: 2 - 3 hrs
  • Total Time: 5 - 10 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $20

Bold and colorful painted arches are popular design features making appearances in professionally-designed homes and Instagram-worthy bedrooms alike, bringing life to drab walls and giving spaces a retro-chic vibe. If you don’t have the budget for an interior designer, these trendy accents may seem out of reach. But actually, they make for a fun and easy DIY project. Plus, a DIY painted arch is a much more budget-friendly way to transform a room than going through the process of painting it entirely.

Arches painted with neutral and light colors give rooms a spacious and open feel, while deeper colors are more eye-catching and create a bold focal point in an otherwise standard room. Choose a color that fits with your space’s color scheme. Consider centering your arch on a decorative shelf to give it more impact or paint it on the wall at the head of your bed like a headboard.

Painted arches can also help to differentiate areas within the same room that have different purposes—like a living room with a painted arch as it transitions into a dining room.

Before You Begin

Decide where you want to put your arch. You may choose to use it to accentuate your favorite design feature or to enliven a blank wall. Either way, determine what size it needs to be and create a clear image in your mind so you can make a plan.

Examine the wall where you will paint your arch. Fill or patch any holes to create a smooth painting surface so that your paint will go on evenly. Wipe the area clean to get rid of any dirt and debris and make sure it’s nice and dry before painting.

Warning

Prolonged exposure to paint fumes can cause irritation in your eyes, throat, and skin. Be sure you're working in a well-ventilated space and use a fan if necessary.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Measuring tape
  • Painter's tape
  • Pencil
  • Straight edge
  • Level
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Paint brush
  • Paint roller
  • Drop cloth

Materials

  • 1 pint paint

Instructions

  1. Trace Arch Shape Onto the Wall

    Once you’ve settled on the size and location of your painted arch, trace the shape onto the wall. Use a straight edge (a yardstick or long level will work, too) to pencil on the outside vertical lines of your arch. Use your measuring tape to make sure everything is the correct size and a level to make sure it’s straight.

    Connect these two vertical lines to each other to form the curve at the top of the arch. The best way to do this is to measure and mark the exact center point between your two arch edges. Measure the distance from the center of the arch to the edge and cut a string that length, plus an inch or two extra. Tie the string to your pencil and tape the other end to the wall at the center point of your arch. Then, hold the string taught and rotate it from edge to edge, marking the wall with the pencil while you do so. Now, you’ll have an even semi-circle to form the top of your arch.

  2. Apply Painter’s Tape

    Surround your arch shape with painter’s tape. For the rounded top portion of your arch, this may require a number of pieces of tape. The purpose is to create a barrier between the part of the wall you won't be painting and the paint. While some DIYers prefer to paint their arches without taping them off, we think this step is important to avoid mistakes. If you accidentally paint outside the lines, you’ll still have a clean shape at the end.

  3. Paint the Arch

    Cover the floor with a drop cloth to protect it from paint splatters and get to work painting your arch. Use a paint brush to carefully paint the edge of the arch first. Once the edge is finished, you can switch out your brush for a roller and paint the interior of the shape.

    If you’d like a deeper color, you can paint multiple coats. Allow each coat to dry fully before adding a new one—dry time instructions should be included on the paint can, but plan for at least two hours between coats.

  4. Remove Painter’s Tape

    Carefully remove the painter’s tape that you had applied around your arch shape and go slow to avoid ripping pieces off. After you’ve removed all the tape, you should be left with a beautiful painted arch with sharp, crisp edges. 

Article Sources
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  1. "Healthy Indoor Painting Practices." United States Environmental Protection Agency Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, 2000.