How to Paint Stripes on a Wall

Painting stripes on a wall can add visual interest and dimension to any room. Whether you want to make a small space appear larger, highlight architectural details, or just add some flair, striped walls can help you achieve your design goals. With some planning, patience, and the right tools and materials, you can create the perfect striped wall for your space.

Gather Your Materials

Before starting your striped wall project, you’ll need to gather the necessary supplies:

  • Paint – Choose latex paint in satin or semi-gloss finish. You’ll need 2 or more colors for the stripes. Make sure the colors complement each other and fit with your overall design scheme. Purchase enough of each color to cover the entire wall area you plan to stripe.
  • Paint brushes – Angled sash brushes, around 2-3 inches wide, work best for cutting clean edges. You’ll need one for each color.
  • Paint rollers and trays – Use high-quality rollers with a smooth finish. The nap length will depend on your wall texture – 3/8 inch is suitable for smooth walls.
  • Painters tape – Select high-quality, low-tack painters tape. Choose a width that matches your stripe width.
  • Drop cloths – Protect your floors and furniture.
  • Primer – For best results, prime the wall first before painting stripes.
  • Paint pole – Use an adjustable pole for reaching high walls and ceilings.
  • Level – Essential for marking straight, horizontal stripe lines.
  • Pencil – For marking stripe boundaries.
  • Sponges – Helpful for fixing mistakes and softening edges.
  • Ladder – If needed to reach high walls. Use safely.

Make sure you have all materials on hand before starting your project. This will prevent delays or having to stop midway through painting.

Choose Your Stripe Design

Before picking up a paint brush, you’ll need to decide on the stripe design. Here are some popular options to consider:

Vertical Stripes

  • Create an elongating effect, making walls appear taller.
  • Work well in narrow, vertical spaces.
  • Can be wider at the bottom and narrower at the top to draw the eyes upwards.
  • Alternating wide and narrow vertical stripes add interest.

Horizontal Stripes

  • Make a space feel wider and more open.
  • Visually lower ceiling height, for a cozier feel.
  • Wider stripes can highlight architectural details like wainscoting and crown molding.
  • Work well on accent walls behind beds or other furniture.

Diagonal Stripes

  • Add visual movement and dynamism to a room.
  • Help emphasize tall architectural elements.
  • Make a space feel more lively and energetic.
  • Can create an abstract, contemporary look.

Consider the dimensions of the wall, the furnishings, your personal taste, and the overall design scheme when choosing a stripe orientation. You can paint a sample stripe area first to ensure you like the look before committing to the entire wall.

Determine Stripe Width and Colors

After choosing the stripe orientation, decide on the width of each stripe and which colors you’ll use.

  • Stripes between 2-4 inches wide work well for most spaces. Adjust based on your room size.
  • Wider stripes make a bolder statement. Narrower stripes create subtle interest.
  • Limit your color palette to 2 or 3 hues for a clean, cohesive look.
  • Make one color dominant and choose one or two accent colors. Stick to a color scheme.
  • Contrasting colors are eye-catching. Complementary colors are harmonious.
  • If multiple colors, you can alternate them or create color blocks.

Again, paint test stripes first to ensure you like the proportions and color combinations before painting the entire wall.

Prepare the Wall Surface

Proper wall preparation is key to achieving crisp, defined stripes. Follow these steps:

  • Fill any cracks or holes with spackle and sand smooth.
  • Clean the walls to remove any dirt, grease, or flaking paint.
  • Lightly sand glossy paint to dull the sheen so the new paint adheres.
  • Remove any wall plates, fixtures, or vent covers.
  • Use painter’s tape to mask off baseboards, trim, ceiling, and any adjacent walls.
  • Apply painter’s tape along the edges of each planned stripe row.
  • If painting over dark colors, prime the wall first with a tinted primer in a neutral shade.

Prepping the surface takes time but prevents uneven stripes and bleeding under the tape lines. It gives the paint an even surface to adhere to.

Paint Your Stripes

Once your design is mapped out and the wall is prepped, it’s time to paint! Follow these steps for best results:

Mark Guidelines for Straight Lines

  • Using a level and pencil, lightly mark perfectly horizontal or vertical lines where you’ll paint the stripes. This keeps them straight and evenly spaced.
  • Make marks near each end and the middle of each stripe row. Use the level to connect them.
  • For diagonal stripes, map out precise angle measurements to keep the slope uniform.

Apply Painter’s Tape

  • Place tape directly over your guideline marks, pressing it firmly onto the wall.
  • If doing multiple colors, apply all tape lines before painting any colors.
  • Make sure edges abut cleanly without gaps. Avoid overlaps or twists.

Cut In the Lines

  • Using an angled sash brush, cut in the paint carefully along the edges of the tape.
  • Start with the ceiling and upper corners, then do the baseboard area.
  • Work methodically from one end to the other, maintaining a steady hand.

Fill In the Stripes

  • Once edges are cut in, use a roller or brush to fill in the stripe sections with paint.
  • Work in 2-3 foot widths, maintaining a wet edge so the paint blends seamlessly.
  • Apply paint in long, straight, overlapping strokes for even coverage.
  • First coat may require 2-3 applications to fully cover if using darker colors.

Remove Tape Promptly

  • Carefully remove tape immediately after painting before the paint fully dries.
  • Pull slowly at a 45 degree angle to prevent lifting paint from the edges.
  • Touch up any imperfect lines using the angled sash brush.

Take your time with each step for the cleanest stripe results. Allow paint to fully dry before adding coats or removing more tape to paint additional colors.

Finishing Touches

Once paint is fully dry, you can complete your striped wall with these finishing touches:

  • Remove any remaining painters tape and reattach wall plates.
  • Touch up corners or edges that may have uneven paint lines.
  • If desired, use painter’s tape to paint the wall trim to match one of the stripe colors.
  • Roll or brush a coordinating paint color onto the ceiling for an accent.
  • Caulk along the top edges, baseboards, and trim for seamless transitions.
  • Apply two coats of satin polyurethane over paint if you want a subtle sheen.
  • Stand back and admire your handiwork…your new striped accent wall is complete!

Painting stripes on a wall requires careful prep, patience, and attention to detail. But the results can transform the look and feel of a room, adding an artistic, customized touch. With some planning and the right techniques, you can create graphic impact with striped walls in any space.

Frequently Asked Questions About Painting Striped Walls

Painting stripes on your wall can seem daunting. Here are answers to some common questions about how to paint striped walls successfully.

What is the easiest way to paint straight lines for stripes?

Using painters tape and marking guideline levels is the easiest way to keep wall stripes straight. Place tape precisely along pencil lines marking the top and bottom edges of each stripe. A level helps mark perfectly horizontal or vertical lines. Go slowly and be precise.

Should I use brush or roller to paint the stripes?

Use an angled sash brush to carefully cut in along the tape lines. Then use a roller or brush to fill in the stripe sections smoothly and evenly. Apply in straight overlapping strokes, maintaining a wet edge.

How do I fix wobbly or uneven lines when painting stripes?

If tape edges bleed, lines waver, or stripes look uneven: Let paint dry fully, then use painter’s tape and a small angled brush to re-define the edges. Sponges can also help soften uneven sections.

What is the standard width for wall stripes?

Stripe width is a matter of personal preference. But 2-4 inches is common, allowing room for several stripes while maintaining impact. Wider stripes (5-8 inches) make a bolder statement. Skinnier stripes (1-2 inches) create subtle texture.

How much paint do I need to buy for a striped accent wall?

Multiply the wall area by how many colors you’ll use. Having too little paint can lead to mismatched color tones. Purchase enough of each color to cover the entire wall, even if striping.

Should I use different sheens when painting stripes?

Using the same paint sheen will blend the best for seamless stripes. If using multiple sheens, apply glossier paint first. The flatter sheen can layer over it without clashing, but not vice versa.

What color combinations look best for striped walls?

Contrasting hues like navy and white make vibrant stripes. Analogous tones like different shades of blue are harmonious. Neutrals like tan and grey are soothing. Complement colors or match a color scheme for a coordinated look.

How do I paint perfectly diagonal stripes?

Make a grid on the wall using a level and tape to map out precise angles. Measure carefully to maintain the exact slope. Mark guidelines to follow so each stripe is parallel. Use a straightedge as you paint diagonal edges.


Painting stripes on your wall is an easy DIY project that can add dramatic style to any space. To get the best results, prepare your wall surface, map out straight guideline levels, apply painter’s tape precisely, cut in edges carefully with a brush, fill in stripes smoothly, and remove tape promptly. Be patient, go slowly, and pay attention to detail as you paint. With the right materials and some technique, you can create custom striped walls that enhance your room’s layout and showcase your personal design style. Display your striped handiwork proudly!