It’s EASY to Paint Horizontal Stripes on a Wall, step by step instructions

Striped walls go with every decorating style, no matter if you like Traditional, Transitional or Modern Furniture and Accessories.

Striped walls go with every decorating style, no matter if you like Traditional, Transitional or Modern Furniture and Accessories.

Have you ever looked in decorating magazines, viewed on Pinterest, or ever seen home improvement shows on TV where they featured rooms with horizontal striped walls? If horizontal striped walls are attractive to you, but you wonder if doing a painting project like that would be easy or hard to do, then you’ve come to the right place. This post has some easy instructions on how to paint horizontal striped walls in your home.

Step One ..Measure the (wall surface) distance from the top of your wall, where it meets the ceiling, down to the top of your baseboard / woodwork. If you have crown molding, or a wallpaper border running around the top of your room like I do, as seen in the cover photos for this post, measure from the bottom edge of the molding or wallpaper border down to the top of your baseboard / woodwork. Take three or four measurements across the longest, or accent wall in the room where you will be painting the stripes. In my case the longest wall is the one with the blue dresser in front of it.

No home, be it a new construction or an older one is completely square, plumb or level. No matter how good the construction hopefully was, settling happens and walls will be unlevel. In the striped room shown in this blog post, on the long wall, the top stripe closest to the wallpaper border goes from being 17 inches tall on the side of the wall closest to the front outside of the house, to 16 inches tall as it goes to the center of the house on the same wall.

Step Two ..Take the number of inches that your wall is (my wall goes from 85 inches to 84 inches) use the larger number (85), and divide it by five for a room that is 8 or 9 foot tall. For a room with a high ceiling, or a cathedral or vaulted ceiling, or a room that is double tall, divide the amount of inches your wall is high by 7, 9, 11, etc. You want an odd number of stripes so you have a stripe exactly in the middle of your wall, as seen in the photos for this post, with the exact same amount of stripes directly above and below the center stripe. You also want to have the center stripe in the darker tone as well as the top and bottom most stripe when your painting project is complete.

If you were wondering why I’ve hung wallpaper and a border in that bedroom first, and after that painted the walls, the truth is, for the first 16 years that room had white walls on three sides with the white with blue pencil striped wallpaper hung behind the bed, and the companion wallpaper border running round the top of the room. The wallpaper, wallpaper border, bedding and fabric swagged around the window are all Ralph Lauren, and it is sill in good excellent condition and I love it. The colors for the newly painted striped walls are lighter tones of an exact match of the darkest shades in the Ralph Lauren fabric.

Painting the Walls Step 1 ..Painting a striped wall can be done two different ways. You can either completely paint two coats of the darkest paint color on you wall surface first, and then follow-up with two coats of the lighter colored paint on top of it to form the alternating stripes, or you can try to save some money and paint (as I did) by just painting the areas where the dark stripes are supposed to be, and then adding the lighter stripes, not on top of, but alongside the darker. (For this painting project, because I was only painting one long wall, and two shorter walls, I tried to get away with only buying one gallon each of the two paint colors).

After measuring my wall surface and dividing that number by five, I knew that each of my stripes was going to be 17 inches tall as they stacked one upon the other as they go up the wall. I marked off 20 inches (for good measure) down from the bottom edge of the wallpaper border in a number of spots, and with a light pencil and yardstick made a soft line on the wall so I would know about how far down from the top of the wall to paint the darker color. After that I went down to the baseboard / woodwork and marked 20 inches up from there and drew the painting guide line again. After that, I measured the wall, and found its exact center, and from that point measured up above, and down below that mark ten inches (ten inches above and ten inches below the center mark equals twenty inches, the width of the darker stripe area), which would help me know where the darker color for the center most stripe was supposed to be painted.

To protect my wallpaper and the wallpaper border running around the top of the room I ran Blue Painters’ Tape made for Delicate Surfaces over all the paper’s edges so I could paint right up to the edge of the paper without getting any paint on the paper itself. The Painters’ Tape for delicate surfaces is low tack, which makes it easy to peel off any / most surfaces you want to protect without damaging the surface. When I was painting the ceiling for the room, I also, with the painters’ tape, taped newspapers on the wall behind the bed, and over the wallpaper border so no stray paint coming off of the paint roller would hit and damage the wallpaper or border.img324

Marking off your Horizontal Stripes ..To make perfectly straight lines across your wall(s), no matter if it is the same height from one side of the room to the other, you will need a Leveling Ruler (illustration 1). The leveling ruler can be used both horizontally or vertically depending on what you are trying to level. The leveling ruler has glass tubes in it (see detail), where you know your level is straight when the little air bubble is directly between the two black lines.

Next, having measured your wall, and knowing how many stripes you are going to paint, and how tall each stripe will be, start marking the height of your stripes with a pencil dot a few inches out from the corner of your room, as seen in illustration 2. (If your wall is uneven go with the higher / greater measurement).

Starting with the dot numbered 1 in illustration 2, place the leveling ruler up against the wall with the level’s top directly on the dot. Move the ends of the level up or down a bit so the bubble is directly between the two black lines, which says your level is now level. With a soft pencil draw a line across the top of your level. After that move your level to the right as seen in #1, but line up your level with two or three inches of the end of the first line you have just drawn, and again, making sure your bubble is between the two lines, continue extending your pencil line across the wall. Repeat the process until you have completely gone across your wall. After that do lines 2, 3, 4 etc. until you have made all the lines on that wall.

If you are going to paint stripes across multiple walls in you room, place your leveling ruler on the next wall you will be drawing lines on, as seen in illustration 3 and place the level’s end up against the line you drew on the previous wall. Check that the bubble is between the black lines on the ruler, and draw your line on that wall. Repeat the pattern of moving your level, checking for level and marking the wall until that wall is complete.

When painting stripes on you walls you don’t want them going up or down hill, but straight across your wall(s). Using a leveling ruler, no matter how crooked your wall(s) is/are your stripes will always be horizontally straight. If you just measured down or up the wall, and ran the horizontal lines around the room, chances are the lines will not be level, and you will easily notice the stripes being off.

Taping the Stripes off and Painting ..After drawing all your lines on your wall(s), it is almost time to paint your stripes, but first you have to run painters’ tape along the edges of the lines you just drew on your dark painted area. Looking at illustration 2, which shows the same amount of stripes I’ve painted in my blue room, I ran Blue Painter’s Tape on the pencil line above the line that is marked 1, below the line that is marked 2, above the line that is marked 3, and below the line that is marked 4. If you wonder if you placed the tape above or below the lines at the right spot, after placing your tape measure the height of the space (stripe) you will be painting. If it has (for example) a 17 inch wide opening, as each of my stripes is supposed to be, than the tape was placed on the right side of the line.

Before painting, run your fingers along the edge of your tape so it is firmly pressed up against your wall surface so there is no space for paint to get under the tape.

Next, with a brush that does not have too much paint on it (cut in) paint in the direction from the tape toward the center of the stripe first, so no paint is pushed up under the blue tape. After that follow-up with a roller applying two coats of paint, making sure there is proper drying time between coats. After your paint is dry, slowly peel off the blue tape and enjoy your striped wall(s). If for any reason some paint gets under the tape and makes an irregular edge, touch it up with a fine tipped artists watercolor brush, found at all arts and craft stores.

Finally, looking at the three photos of my blue striped room, all the artworks except for two pieces were done by me. I painted the sliding closet doors to give the illusion that french doors opened out onto the covered porch of a shingled house. I love the look of a shingle house. I wanted the landscape and river view to be tranquil and not exactly evocative of any certain season, so I kept the landscape relatively green.

Companion Posts
Accent Walls..Some Ideas for Painting or Wallpapering an Accent Wall in Your Home 10-29-2013,
Pick (Use) four colors when Decorating a Room 3-7-2011,
Paint a room a Dark Color, then add Light Accents 3-27-2011,
How to Pick the Perfect Gray Paint..A Popular Color Choice of the Moment 2-15-2014,
Picking the Right Paint color to go with the Wood in your Home..Color Theory 3-9-2013,
When Decorating a Beige Room..Think Tones, Texture and Sculptural Interest 3-16-2011


About fredgonsowskigardenhome

Your eyes deserve to view beauty. I hope Fred Gonsowski Garden Home helps to turn your vision, into a reality.
This entry was posted in Interior Decorating Principles, Picking Paint Colors Interior / Exterior / Front Door / Roof. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to It’s EASY to Paint Horizontal Stripes on a Wall, step by step instructions

  1. Great tutorial, Fred! I always find that no matter how much you press down on the tape edges, there is always a little bit of paint creep. Of course you can touch that up later, but I find it easier to paint over the edge of the tape with the base color, so that’s the color that creeps and then proceed with painting the stripe color. Generally yields very nice, crisp lines.

    • Hi there Erin, Thanks for telling us all your way of doing the project. With my basic tutorial, and your extra bit of advice, I know other readers of this post will have great luck painting the stripes on their walls. Here at Fred Gonsowski Garden Home I tell people how I do a project, and I hope my explanation empowers them. Everyone like you, who adds their own special way of doing things, gives extra idea/options to the readers to apply to their project. Thanks for commenting ;-}

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