Painting stripes on your wall is a classic look with loads of potential, but did you know it can do much more for your space? Stripes can effectively make a room feel much larger than it is. Horizontal stripes tend to make a room feel more spacious, while vertical stripes can increase the perceived height of your ceilings. This handy visual trick has been in interior designers' back pockets for ages.
Before You Begin
It's important to visualize and create a plan for your stripes before you get to work. Determining the layout and coordinating colors beforehand will make the process much more streamlined.
How to Plan Your Stripe Layout
If you're after a simple two-color stripe pattern with a consistent stripe thickness, planning the layout is simple. First, measure your wall height for horizontal stripes or measure the width for vertical stripes. Take that measurement and divide it by an odd number representing the number of stripes. By using an odd number, you're guaranteeing that the top and bottom stripes are the same color.
This equation will yield your stripe thickness. If you're unhappy with the thickness of your stripes, simply increase or decrease the number of stripes until you land on a thickness you like. For example, if your wall measures 95 inches, dividing by 19 will yield 19 5-inch stripes. For best visual results, keep your stripes between 4 to 10 inches.
Choosing the Right Colors
Choosing coordinating colors for your stripes mainly comes down to preference, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind that will make it easier to pick something you're happy with.
You can't go wrong with subtly contrasting neutrals. In fact, regardless of your color preferences, opting for subtle contrast will likely result in an aesthetic that better adapts to changes in furnishings and decor. If you don't want to cover every wall with stripes, plan on one of your colors being the main wall color in the remainder of the room. This will ensure the room looks cohesive.
Equipment / Tools
- Measuring tape
- 4' level
- Paint brush
- Small paint roller
- Drywall knife
- Assorted painting supplies
- Razor knife
- Interior paint in two or more coordinating colors
- Bleed-free painter's tape
How to Paint Stripes on a Wall
Follow the steps below to prep and paint stripes on your wall. These steps outline the process of painting horizontal stripes—the same steps can be applied to vertical stripes with some minor adjustments.
Paint the Wall
Completely paint the wall using the lightest color of your chosen paints and let the paint thoroughly dry before taping. Add as many coats as necessary for ample coverage.
Measure and Layout the Stripes
Measure the distance of the wall (measure the height for horizontal stripes and the length for vertical stripes). Divide the total distance in inches by an odd number to find how thick of stripes to make.
Our example wall is 95 inches and we've accounted for 19 stripes, making each stripe 5 inches.
Measure and Mark Wall
Starting near the corner at the bottom of the wall, measure up 5 inches from the baseboard and make a small mark on the wall. Continue marking the wall in 5-inch increments until you are 5 inches from the ceiling.
Mark Lines on Wall
Place a 4-foot level against each mark and trace a line. Move the level over slightly and continue the line until you reach the other side.
Tape the Wall
Paint the Stripes
Paint the darker wall color between the tape. Be sure to paint over the tape's edge to create a stark transition between the stripes. Paint as many coats as are necessary for ample coverage.
Pull the Tape
The longer the tape stays on the wall, the higher the chance of it pulling the paint off when you remove it. This is especially true when the paint is overlapping the tape. To avoid this, carefully pull the tape after the paint has been drying for just a few minutes, but is not yet dry to the touch.
Touch Up the Paint
In the event that some paint bled through the tape or the tape pulled some paint with it, carefully touch up the damaged paint with the appropriate color.
Add Secondary Stripes
It's easy to add smaller stripes in between the larger stripes or even work in perpendicular stripes. Simply measure from each line and mark your preferred distance, then follow the process above to mark, tape, and paint the wall.
How do you paint thin stripes on walls?
To paint thin stripes on walls, divide the total length of the wall by a higher odd number. This will decrease the thickness of your stripes. Once you're ready to tape off the stripes, choose thinner painter's tape to accommodate the smaller stripes.
What's the best tape for painting stripes?
Look for a painter's tape with clean-edge technology. It may say something like "bleed-free" or "paint-blocking."
Do you have to tape a wall to paint stripes?
No! In fact, you can simply mark the wall with a pencil and paint along the lines. This can yield a hand-painted touch that cozies up the space.