How to Paint Perfect Stripes on Textured Walls

Painting textured walls can be a challenge.  Every time we paint, we think that we have the walls perfectly covered, until a few days later when we find tiny little dots that we missed due to the “knock down” texture.  It’s become such a routine with our painting that touching up a few days later is one of our expected steps.

So, you can imagine how nervous my husband was when I told him that we were going to paint huge zig zag stripes on two of our master bedroom walls.  Textured walls can be a bear to paint when you need lines with perfectly crisp edges, and Mr. Perfectionist wanted it to be 100% perfect.  Perfect, perfect, perfect.  Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.

Luckily for him, he has perfected (heh) his crisp line painting technique over years of my crazy decorating schemes.  He agreed to let me photograph the process so that I could help you create the most perfect lines ever.

1.  Paint your entire wall the base color.  If you don’t know which color should be your base, always go with the lightest.  In our room, our stripes are dark gray and white, so we painted the walls white as the base color.

2.  Tape off your stripes with the blue Scotch 3M Delicate Surfaces with EdgeLock painters tape.  No, the company did not ask me to say that, nor did they give me anything for saying that, but it is our tried and true tape.  You can pick it up anywhere that sells interior paint.  We generally just buy the 1″ width.  We’ve used the more expensive green tape before, but I’m going to tell you right now that we do not think it is worth the extra expense when you use this method (and it certainly doesn’t work on textured walls without using this method).

3.  With your finger, press down on the inner edges of the tape on the stripe that will be your secondary color (gray) to make sure that it adheres to the lower portions of the texture.  When I say inner edges, I mean the edges that will come in direct contact with the alternate paint color.  In my example, you’d press down on the areas highlighted in red.


how to paint perfect stripes on textured walls

Don’t just use a straight edge, credit card, brayer, or the like to try to do this.  It needs to be your finger so that you can reach down in the lower texture.

4.  Using a foam brush, dab your base color into the area of your tape you just pressed down.  What you are doing is letting a little bit of paint seep under the tape.  Once it dries, it seals the line, so that your secondary color won’t run underneath and ruin your line.

how to paint perfect stripes on textured walls

5.  After you dab the paint, run the brush back over your dabs to smooth the paint.  You don’t want it to dry all lumpy.

how to paint perfect stripes on textured walls

6.  Paint the edges of each stripe in the way described above and allow the paint to dry completely.

7.  Using your secondary color, paint your stripes inside the tape lines and carefully remove the tape before the paint dries.

how to paint perfect stripes on textured walls

Clear as mud?  It is a much simpler process than it seems.

For our chevron stripes with the silver accent line, we painted the walls as if there were only going to be white and gray chevrons, as detailed above.  Then, we retaped underneath each gray stripe and followed the above technique to add the silver line.  In that case, we dabbed the gray paint on the top tape line and white tape on the bottom tape line.

The process will the the same for any type of stripe you attempt – vertical, horizontal or zig zag.  In fact, this is a great way to tackle any wall where you need a perfectly, crisp line.

Do you have any painting stripes tips to add?  Let us know in the comments!




Filed Under: Paint Your Walls, Project Gallery 98 Comments

About Lindsay Ballard

Lindsay Ballard is a former college mascot turned political geek turned DIY fanatic who is conspiring to live in a Technicolor dream world. Her designs are bold and graphic, while her spirit is fun and full of color. Lindsay chronicles her projects and design ideas here at Makely, where she shares daily tutorials and inspiration. Lindsay lives outside of Austin, Texas with her husband (Tom), children (Zack and Emma) and dogs (Jack and Duke).



Comments

  1. All I can say is wow!! It looks amazing but it’s a lot of work. Not sure I have patience for that.

    Ruth

  2. You’re amazing! I love stripes, but I’ve always had a fear of just going for it! :) You are going to get so many compliments on it from guests…it’s fabulous!

    ~Kim

  3. This is just beyond amazing, I’ve never seen such crisp lines before!! Looks perfect! Janell

  4. What a great tutorial! Thank you for your willingness to post such great step-by-step instructions. I know it seemed like a lot of work, but boy did it pay off! I can’t wait to see the whole reveal!

  5. Wow, great technique.

    When I had a friend come paint our house he showed me the trick he used to get perfect lines. Use the same tape as you mentioned, on the edge that is getting fresh paint, squirt a very fine bead of paintable caulk where the tape meets the wall. Run you finger over the caulk/wall. Don’t use much caulk, just enough to cover the tape/wall seam. Paint like usual, then when you peel the tape, the caulk will have sealed the tape. We had very heavy texture on our walls and this worked wonders for the wall/ceiling corners.

  6. I’ve used white spray paint to seal the edge of the tape on a white wall. Also used artists gel medium (which is clear).

  7. I SOOOOOOOOOOO wish I had read this before I paited my striped bathroom walls. The tip about blotting the same color paint on first is genious. My paint totally bled through! Just a bit, but I know its there! :(

  8. Love the Chevron – with the thin third color – genius!

  9. Love these tips!!! I have knockdown texture walls and I’m about to stencil on them… really nervous about it and think I can steal some tricks from you…

    I recently started a new type of link up party and would LOVE for you to share this and spread the word! http://pbjstories.blogspot.com/2011/06/secrets-of-diyer-2.html

    Pamela @ pbjstories.blogspot.com

  10. I do this for a living and it is the best advice you could give anyone. It seems like a lot of work but it is SO much better than cleaning up all the run-ons, trust. I love the addition of the third color, it adds a great bit of interest and pop. Just found your blog & will subscribe! :)

  11. GENIUS!

  12. I’m so glad I found your post since I’m planning a painting project soon. If I want to paint a single wide horizontal stripe around the whole room, do I still need to paint the base color on the entire wall or can I get away with painting it only over the area where it will show? Thanks for your advice!

    • Hi Lindsay! :) No, if you are just doing a single wide stripe, you don’t need to do the whole wall the base color. I’d paint it down an inch or so past where your paint colors will meet (i.e. where your tape line would be).

  13. I use this method too and swear by it. I find the taping off is the hard part! Going over the edge with the base color isn’t so bad :)

    Your stripes look georgeous! I love the silver line!

  14. Great tips! I’m about to do a two tone paint in my daughter’s room and wasn’t sure how I was going to get a straight line – using the base color to seal the tape….brilliant!!

  15. these are really good tips, lindsay!

    kelly

  16. This is a great idea! My house is over 80 yrs old and with all the layers of paint it is impossible (or so I thought) to paint around trim without bleeding. I can’t wait to try this!

  17. Great step by step tut! Once you see your trick to getting a perfect edge, it’s like—DUH, why didn’t I think of that! Thanks so much!
    XoXoXo
    Joy

  18. Gala Van Eaton says:

    Thank you for sharing this stripe-painting method. I’ve painted lots of rooms with lots of stripes or big blocks and had just begun to accept “fuzzy” lines. Can’t wait to try this.

  19. I may be the only person with this problem, but when I have used painter’s tape before, as I pull off the tape it ends up pulling off some of the newly painted surface as well. For that reason I always try to pull the tape off before the paint has dried. What am I doing wrong?

    • Hey Krista! Yes, you definitely want to pull the tape before the paint dries. If you are doing something like stripes, you’ll want to wait until the base coat has dried before you tape over it – and then you are going to want to use the “delicate” labeled tape. It is made specifically for freshly painted surfaces, and doesn’t stick as strongly as the regular painters tape. Also, if you are painting a single color and just using the regular tape, you’ll want to make sure that the paint isn’t super thick up against the paint line – that could cause the peeling problem, too.

      I hope that helps, and let me know if I didn’t answer your question!

  20. Great tutorial – thank you!!

  21. OMG, your walls are amazing. No wonder it took so long for them to be finished. They are perfect.

    Krista, I had the same thing happen the first time I painted my bathroom and not only did the tape take the paint but also some of the top layer of sheetrock as well!

  22. That’s a great idea! The funny thing is that we’ve had the opposite experience with the blue/green tape. In my experience, the blue not only didn’t get a straight line, but it was so thin that tiny pieces would stay stuck with the paint and I’d have to get tweezers to rip the pieces out. My husband read something about the green tape being designed for use with water-based paint. Not sure about the blue tape. One method for getting a smooth line between a ceiling and a wall that we learned from a pro painter is to put a link layer of caulk in the corner and then flatten. You won’t notice the caulk if it’s the same color as the ceiling, and it provides a flat surface for your tape and paint.

    • Oh, man! We always use the blue tape for delicate surfaces, so perhaps that’s why. It sticks well enough to paint, but not so well that it’s stuck forever. That stinks that you had to use tweezers.

      We do the caulk thing, too! I had forgotten that I took pics of my husband caulking the ceiling, so I should do a post on those. It really finishes off the paint job nicely!

      • Could you please explain the caulking on the ceiling…about to tackle repainting the kids bedrooms and I hate painting! lol

        Could also use some tips for painting along trim, etc. because we never have any luck with the painters tape…bleeds through to the trim.

        Thanks for your help….appreciate it!
        Julie

  23. Brilliant! Seriously I am about to strip my dining room and will certainly give this a try…thanks so much for sharing. Oh and do we get to see your room all done??? Kim

  24. So simple and so genius! Thank you for sharing! I’m here from Tip Junkie today.

  25. Wow those look AMAZING! I am about to repaint one of my boys rooms and I wanted to do stripes but I am a perfectionist too! Definately going to use this method!

  26. Love it!!!!

  27. Great tutorial!!! i love it, thank you

  28. Lindsay, We’re mentioning this post tomorrow on our blog because it was so helpful this past weekend! We’re also in Austin and have a mutual friend (Ellie Vixie) who sent us over to your site after we posted about loving grey stripes (http://www.casacullen.com/2011/08/casa-cravings-interior-inspiration-grey-striped-walls.html) … Thanks for having this awesome info in such a great tutorial! It really helped us create crisp, perfect angles! Cheers, Morgan @ CasaCullen

  29. I have been wanting to paint stripes in my entry way for quite some time and after doing them in my kitchen, which was a nightmare, was scared to do it again. I found this info, summoned my courage and tried again. The results are astounding and not nearly as time consuming as straightening lines with a small brush….Thanks!!!!
    PS i did it when my husband was out of town, i think he’ll be impressed.

  30. Lindsay,
    I am painting my living room wall a soft white with a tan horizontal stripe about a third of the way down and about 36″ wide. My question is that I have gloss white crown molding and still want for it to be lighlighted. I have cathederal ceilings and wondered if you have any suggestions for painting an additional stripe under the molding. Will it just look crazy?

  31. I just googled “how to paint stripes on textured walls” and your tutorial came up. I’m looking to tackle my master bedroom this weekend while on my Christmas vacation and I really wanted to make it sophisticated and romantic, thanks so much for the step by step, I am really excited to get my room done now!

  32. Wonderful! Great painting :)

  33. You think about home decor as much as I do. I LOVE the walls and finally Thank you so much for the step by step instructions. I think I’m going to try it now! Your chevron walls are bold and I love love love it!

  34. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I followed your directions to the last sentance, and it worked! I have perfect stripes in my new nursery.

  35. I am getting ready to paint stripes in a room. Glad I found your site. Seeking a bit more advice though. I read where you said to peel the tape before the paint dries. The paint I am using as the top color is a thin paint and will need 3 or more coats. Would it be necessary to peel and re-tape the lines every time in order to get the most crisp lines? Or do you think it might be ok to just leave it in place while I paint the subsequent coats?

    • Hi! We actually have painted this metallic stripes that required like 5-6 coats. Yikes! So, we just left the tape up for all the coats and then waiting until it was completely dry before removing the tape. It worked like a charm!

      Good luck!

  36. Lindsay, this is so beautiful! Looks absolutely perfect. I am inspired and your tutorial is making me think I just might be able to do this! How wide are your chevron stripes? I love exactly how you did it and would love to emulate you!

  37. Lindsay — I’ve read to pull the tape and redo each time. I’ve found that if you cheat and repaint as soon as possible, then remove the tape at a right angle flat to the surface (The lifting edge of the tape forms a 45 degree angle with the edge of the tape.) Anyway, the tape edge is moving sideways, not UP from the newly painted edge.

    Repainting as soon as the previous paint gets to the, just tacky stage (if you touch it, you don’t get paint on your finger, but a fly that lands on it stays…) the solvents in the new paint will keep the first layer from getting too strong and attached to the tape.

    I just did 4 doors that needed 4 coats this way. Latex paint. One coat on each door, coffee, start the next round.

  38. I had problems with that exact tape sticking to the walls! My walls are textured just like yours in the picture and I couldn’t even get the tape to stay on for 1/2 hour prior to painting. The tape was pressed on really hard, but by the time I got to the last of the taping off, the first part was hanging off the wall. HELP!!!

    Thanks!!!

    • I’ve run into that problem, too. It makes you want to just give up, doesn’t it?

      I think it has to do with the humidity (or maybe lack there of) in the room. We actually ended up having to turn the air conditioning off in the room, and then it worked fine.

  39. I tried painting stripes on textured walls once, and it was a disaster. I’m planning to give it another shot thanks to your tutorial.

    By the way, I tried pinning your post to Pinterest but I get a Javascript alert that says it can’t see any big images on the page. Not sure if that’s intentional or not.

  40. Thanks for sharing this! I painted two stripes (one wide blue and one thin red) on my son’s gray walls for a sports-theme look. It looks great! My only problem was this: The first day, I taped and painted one wall — no problem. The second day I taped the other three walls and then waited a day to paint. The tape loosened overnight and my lines weren’t as clean as the lines that I painted right after taping.

    • Yes, that’s a good point. It will loosen (or completely fall down!) over time. I have walked into a room the next day and half the tape has fallen down. Makes me want to cry.

  41. This works like magic!! Thank you so much for this very easy to follow “how to”. I painted 18inch stripes on a 30 foot wall today. They look fantastic!

    Thanks again,
    V-

  42. Amazing tips, my wife tasked me with painting our babies room with black and white stripes. If it wasn’t for your advice it would never have happened. The lines are so clean I feel like a pro. Thanks again. One tip I can add is, if your laying crown molding or a chairail over your stripes, make sure you tape off the wall before you caulk, nothing is worse then caulk smudges over your perfect stripes.

  43. Thanks for this great tutorial. My new 6-color striped accent wall really looks fantastic!

  44. wow, amazing! I am going to use this technique to update my bedroom wall before my mum visits me. what’s the measurements of your zig zag? width and heighth?
    Thanks!

  45. Man I wish I would’ve seen this before this weekend – we have a big mess on our hands with lumpy lines where the secondary color seeped under our expensive green Frog tape – we did press really good with our finger…but didn’t get your tip with the paint over….I’m gonna do it all over tonight and see if I can fix this mess…thanks for your tutorial!!!!

  46. Jessica Fosdick says:

    Thank you for this post…I’m trying to must up some courage to paint stipes in my home. Pretty sure you just made it official. I’m doing it. Thank you again!

  47. I found your site a couple of days ago and this gave me the courage to paint the purple, blue, and green stripes my four year old daughter wants on her bedroom wall of our new house. I have painted on orange peel textured walls and the paint ALWAYS bled under the tape. My lines had just a couple of places where the new color bled, but nothing like my previous experiences. I just need to touch up a couple of places and I’m good! Thanks again!!

  48. What are the demensions you used?

  49. Hello! I was Googling how to paint chevron stripes and found this! Hooray! I am going to use your method for painting some stripes on my porch this weekend and you will see it when you come. I can’t wait to meet you and give you a big ol’hug! Lisa~

  50. Love the method for painting stripes with crisp edges! Wish I would have known this one for my son’s nursery. It was such a headache!

  51. I just got done painting our babies room and did a blue, cream white, and custard stripe pattern. Your technique is awesome! Thank you for sharing it.

  52. Thank you for the step-by-step instructions on how to paint on textured walls. We are first time painters and our colored squares came out PERFECTLY in our sons playroom! It was very time consuming but so rewarding in the end. Thank you so much for your guidance! Here’s a link to the final result in the playroom: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4485225053738&set=a.4485224293719.2182744.1383504119&type=1&theater

  53. Thank you soooo much! I’m a faux paint maniac but just bought a new house with textured walls and did not know where/how to begin! Such a great idea!! Can’t wait to get started! You’re a lifesaver!

  54. Hello!!!! First off..I absolutely love this blog!!! I was looking for good tips on painting stripes on textured walls and there you were, lol. But I am having a big problem. :( I painted the base color a few days ago, then I measured and taped (doing as you suggested and pressing the tape in the texture w/ my fingers) the entire room and then followed the steps in regards to painting the edges of the tape w/ the base color; but now the tape is all wet and wrinklie (sp). And now I’m afraid to put my 2nd color of paint on; worrying that the 2nd coat will seep through AND my lines will not be straight.
    Any tips, advice, comments, suggestions are all welcome.
    Thanks so much,
    Ang

    • Hi, Ang!

      Probably what has happened is that the tape is actually sealed underneath by the paint. You may have used too much paint, which is why they are wet and wavy, but it will hopefully be okay. Paint just a little bit of stripe on one of the lines and peel the tape, just to see if it is okay. Without seeing it, I have a feeling you’ll be fine.

      • yeah, i probably used too much paint, lol. i was trying to get into all the crevices of the orange peel wall. i will just have to bight the bullet and peel the tape, lol. thank you so much for your help. i’ll let you know how it turns out.

  55. I love your walls!! You did such a great job, with your husband of course! :) but I was wondering what measurements you used to make your zags? I’ve seen a lot of different angles but some seem too steep for me, if you get what I mean? Your seem like the perfect zags!

    Thanks,
    Brittany

    • Hi Brittany! I honestly don’t know what kind of angles we used. We measured the wall across and then divided it so that we would have a complete V on both sides. I didn’t want it to end without the pattern being finished. I think that’s probably the best way to go about it. What worked for me probably won’t work for you, unless your walls are exactly the same dimensions. Does that make sense?

  56. I am thrilled to have come across your website! We moved into our new house a year ago. I’m in love with the house but I am itching to jazz up our builder grade beige too. I’m am going to paint stripes on the walls of the second story using your technique for textured walls. But first, I’ll bookmark your site….

  57. Rachel Laughlin says:

    I love your chevron walls and I just painted my own on my master bedroom wall. I am also wanting to do the silver stripe. However, I started at the ceiling and measured down 1 inch. And at my point of my chevron, I measured down 1 inch. Then, I connected the 2 dots with painters tape. However, I guess my stripes are at a wrong angle or something because at spots between the 2 points, what will be the silver line is only 1/2 inch. I hope all of that makes sense.

    So, how did you do the silver lines? I’m not quite sure what I’m doing wrong or how to fix it.

  58. You know what we did? I think (if I remember correctly) took a ruler or something that was an inch wide and laid it underneath the bottom of a chevron. Then, we taped under that. Try that and see if it works. I’m sure there’s some math trick to it, but I don’t know what it is.

  59. Please share the dimensions of your zig-zag!! Thank you!!!

    • Hey Andrea! If I were you, I’d measure the wall and divide it by the number of repetitions you want. You’ll be able to figure out how far to space them from point to point. That way, you won’t run into a wall and have a non-completed V. I think mine are about 6 inches wide.

  60. I used this technique and it worked beautifully! Can’t stress enough dabbing the base coat on the tape. Thank you sooo much for sharing this information.

  61. Can you share how to measure/lay out the chevron stripes before you tape? What measurements did you use?

  62. Carla Tillman says:

    Thanks so much for this tutorial. I just tried stripes for the first time in the bathroom and it worked like a charm.

  63. I will be using this technique on CINDER BLOCK walls. Lots of pock marks. I’m using acrylic paint. Would you suggest using something else other than paint to seal the rough texture before painting the secondary color?

    • Hi Marti,

      Is the cinder block raw or has it been previously painted? I’ve heard of people using a thin layer of clear caulk over the tape line. That might be a good solution for you.

      Lindsay

  64. I share this tutorial on my blog about DIY chevron decorating ideas!!! thanks for the help!! http://schulmanart.blogspot.com/2013/05/decorating-idea-painting-diy-chevron.html

  65. This was a lot of work upfront but worked perfectly. Thank you.

  66. I just reviewed the Frog Tape for textured surfaces and all though I have flat walls I tested it on an extremely bumpy “canvas” I made. It worked amazingly well. So glad to know there are products and techniques out there now for these types of surfaces. Lesley

  67. I’m definitely linking back to this on my post today. So much better than me re-writing the whole thing! Thanks for the great tutorial.

Trackbacks

  1. My Master Bedroom Funkified! « says:

    [...] wasn’t that bad.  And the lines came out really crisp, even on my textured walls, thanks to this tutorial I found over at Living With Lindsay.  I did this all by myself so I imagine it would be [...]

  2. [...] wasn’t that bad.  And the lines came out really crisp, even on my textured walls, thanks to this tutorial I found over at Living With Lindsay.  I did this all by myself so I imagine it would be [...]

  3. [...] Best Internet Painting Tip EVER. If you search this there are a ton of folks who extol the virtues of this method, so I’m not sure where the origin of it was, but either way it is THE BEST way to paint stripes (or chevrons or whatever whacky thing you want to do) EVAH. We used this method whilst painting my best friend’s nursery and the stripe was a serious navy blue going over pretty muted neutrals. In other words, any bleeding of the navy under the tape would have been crazy obvious. So we used this method and it was the crispest line I’ve (we’ve) ever painted. Zero touch-ups. It was that good. So do this next time you have to paint stripes- 100% worth the little extra time it takes. I promise! [...]

  4. [...] followed this tutorial for painting stripes on textured walls. Worked like a [...]

  5. [...] easy to accomplish with green frog tape. But if you want to try this, and your walls are textured, this is the trick my sisters and I have used in the past. It’s fussy, but you’ll have perfect [...]

  6. [...] a great article about painting straight lines on Knockdown and it worked pretty awesome – http://livingwithlindsay.com/2011/06/paint-perfect-stripes.html if I do say so myself…although I’m not too picky.  We left the paint on after 2 coats [...]

  7. [...] painless. (We have extremely textured walls and I was very nervous to do stripes, BUT I found this tutorial online and it worked like a [...]

  8. [...] How to Paint Perfect Stripes on Textured Walls Textured walls can pose a problem when it comes to maintaining straight lines, but this post offers a good trick that will help you keep the paint from seeping under the tape. [...]

  9. [...] How to Paint Perfect Stripes on Textured Walls [...]

  10. […] hand paint or touch up stripes on an entire wall. So I started doing some digging, and came across this amazing […]

  11. […] If your wall is textured or bumpy, you’ll need to take extra measures. Also, make sure to pull the tape while the paint is still wet.  For more information, here’s a great tutorial on painting stripes/patterns from Makely School for Girls. […]

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