How To Paint Perfect Stripes on Walls

By Kate Riley November 3, 2010

As much as I love a beautiful painted wall in a single color, I also adore the look of painted stripes on walls.  They can be bold or subtle, symmetrical or varied, horizontal or vertical, but done just right, stripes are perfect for creating big impact on a budget.

Designing, measuring, and prepping your space for stripes is difficult enough, but the greatest frustration felt by most is taking the time to paint stripes around a room with textured walls, and then peeling off the tape, only to find uneven lines.


remodeling center stripes via Remodeling Center

Last year, I attempted vertical stripes in my master bath with pearlescent paint.  While I loved the added shimmer, I gave up on the project because I ended up with those dreaded uneven lines.  The project has been on the back burner ever since.

In yesterday’s post, I asked the question of how to get perfect painted stripes on textured walls, discreetly hoping YOU would share your secrets.  Ha!  My plan worked.  Several of you have perfected a technique for stripes and you answered the call.


samanthapynn stripesSamantha Pynn


If you’ve had the desire to add stripes to one of your spaces, well hear what a few readers have to say about it!


Readers Share Their Techniques for Perfect Stripes on Walls

“I learned this trick when I worked in a museum painting walls and wall murals.  The best way to get a crisp line is to first paint your lighter color on the whole wall and let dry for an appropriate amount of time (or, if you’re painting stripes over an existing paint job, make sure you have the original paint color, at least enough for touch ups.)

Lay out your tape lines, then seal the edges of the tape with your original color using a brush or roller.  Let dry, then paint your contrasting stripe color over that, and remove the tape while the paint is still a bit wet.  Not only will you get a clean stripe, but the only seepage you’ll get is in the original paint color, and should blend in just fine.”

~ Ginger


elle decor striped walls Elle Decor


“I have textured walls and I’ve done stripes and other patterns many times with success. The key is to apply a thin coat of caulk (the paintable kind that dries clear) over the edges of your tape (I just use my fingers).

This keeps the paint from leaking underneath every time – I promise it works! I’ve tried every brand of painters tape out there and they have all failed me. Caulk is the only surefire way that I’ve found to get those nice crisp edges on textured walls.”

~ Sarah Bradburn of Sarah Elizabeth Design


striped wall weedecor Wee Decor

“For textured walls – I can do stripes with no problem.  HOW?  Let’s say you’re painting gray and yellow stripes. First, you paint the gray, then you tape over the areas you want to tape off, then paint the gray paint OVER the tape, to “seal” it.

Let it dry, then paint over it with the yellow paint. Pull the tape off when still wet.. your line will be PERFECT.  It feels sooo good to peel that tape back once you’ve done all the painting and waiting…”

~ Elisa at What The Vita

house beautiful striped foyer House Beautiful


“A trick I use when painting stripes is after the tape is placed I roll over it with clear glaze to seal it. After that is dry then I paint the color on top and remove tape while it’s still wet.  Hope that helps (if you have extra clear glaze).”

~ Dayna of Second Time Around Designs

dining room apt therapyApartment Therapy


“Perfect Stripes on textured walls?  Okay I have done this many times and people can’t believe my stripes on our textured walls.

Say it was your blue you had there and you wanted a white stripe.  First, paint the wall blue.  Let fully dry, then place your tape down.  Now here is the trick. Paint over the edge of the tape blue again -and really  get it in there.  What happens is the blue goes into the (my technical term) bubbles or gaps where the tape is not adhering to the walls.  Now let that dry a bit (not super much we wait about an hour or get sidetracked and make it two).

Lastly paint your white stripe.  We sometimes score the tape if we are worried about how many coats we had to do (only had to do this once when we had a dramatic color change).  Sometimes there may be a tiny bit of touch up, but really if you get the original color in there good. You should be a-okay. That’s it!”

~ Stacy Zeigler

stripes on walls coastal livingCoastal Living (Design by Tracey Rapisardi)

“I’ve painted stripes on textured walls!  Textured walls are a pain to paint, but painting stripes *really* isn’t that bad.  Promise!

My tricks of the trade for texture is to jam down that tape. Literally.  To paint the contrast stripes we put up the painters tape, made sure it was truly straight (did the “across the room eyeball test”), and then added some serious pressure over the tape to make sure it was adhered as tightly as humanly possible.  Then, when we painted, we painted straight on. No angles, no edging brushes, straight on. It gives the paint less opportunity to slide under the tape.

We let the first coat dry, then peeled the tape off while the second coat was still wet. Used latex paint, worked like a charm. No problems. I have also heard of people with textured walls putting a bit of caulking underneath the tape to seal it even closer to the wall. I wasn’t willing to deal with that cleanup, so I just pushed the tape down like the dickens. Worked for me!”

~ Sara @ House Bella


the lettered cottage stripes The Lettered Cottage


“A couple of gals mentioned using the other color paint to make straight lines when painting on a texture. I’ve done it, it works.  Another option is using paintable caulking. I like doing this because it is fast and I think it is fun to use a caulking gun!”

~ TJ

“The best way to get perfect lines using tape is to brush matte medium (avail at art supply stores) over the lines first then cover with your regular paint.  It fills in the areas where it might bleed through and dries completely clear.”

~ Rebecca K.



More Tutorials on Striped Walls from Across The Web


True Value’s Tips on Painting Stripes on Walls

DIY Network Striped Paint Technique

Songbird’s How To Paint Striped Walls (and why you should use quality painter’s tape)

Subtle Stripe Technique via Young House Love (and why peeling tape when wet is key)

Remodeling Center’s Expert Tips for Painting Stripes on Walls (and the importance of sealing tape with your base color)

HGTV’s How to Paint Stripes on a Wall (and sealing tape with acrylic gel medium)

  swirl snip

Is your head spinning with all these fantastic tips and tricks on perfect stripes?

Well, you could just say ‘Fahgetaboutit’ and go for this look instead.

uneven stripes via bellemaison23 via Belle Maison 23

Many many thanks to the readers who shared their tips and tricks, we are all grateful for your insight.   Are you considering stripes on your walls?   Do you have another tip or tutorial on painting stripes that you’d like to share?

**Update:  If you want to paint perfect stripes on furniture, take a peek at this gray striped dresser – I’ve adopted Stacy’s trick and it really works!



  1. I don’t have anything new….but would like to give an AMEN to the caulking technique. We tried it this summer on a giant horizontal stripe for my son’s bedroom ( It worked PERFECTLY!! We also used a flat paint for the walls and a semi-gloss for the stripe. It gave a dimentional look that is really cool in person! Thanks for the fun stripe photos. I’m seriously considering the black and white ones. They look amazing!!

  2. Oh the power of a blogger! Thanks for sending out the SOS and to all those who responded.

  3. I am currently deciding what color to paint my stripes and if I want all the same size. This will be in my entry. I hope if finally decide. I’m tired of waiting.

  4. Wish I’d read this 5 years ago when I did Natalie’s nursery. ;) T helped me level off the horizontal stripe for the “chair rail stripe” in green and then we leveled a bunch of vertical stripes below that in lighter green, pink, and cream. I didn’t use any technique at all for the painting, and I see now that it was complete pure luck that they turned out so well!!! ;)

  5. What is the rule of thumb about where to paint stripes….small room = thin stripes, bigger room = big and bold stripes….or visa versa? Thanks for the great tips, and inspiration!

  6. How funny, I have been painting horizontal stripes on my wall all afternoon! I also painted some about a year and a half ago for my son’s nursery. As you can tell I am also a fan of striped walls

  7. Lots of great tips here! I have been wanting to try painting stripes in our laundry room. Now I am really inspired to get going! I have only attmpted stripes on furniture. Loved all the images, too! What a darling pink nursery.

  8. If I had seen this post yesterday, I would’ve responded the same way. All of these suggestions are basically the same idea. I’ve used the base paint to cover the tape before adding the second color. It works like a charm. I even had a professional painter tell me I do a fantastic job. ;-) It’s all in the preparation!

  9. Yay! I’m SOOOOO glad you posted this today! I am about to–as in, next week–vertically stripe my bathroom.. and the walls are textured~ I was just going to wing it and hope it turned out.. and now I don’t have to! :) :) :)

  10. I planned to paint some tone on tone horizontal stripes in my master… similar to The Lettered Cottage image, but I am LOVING the Elle Decor dark/light stripes!! Really sharp looking! I may have to think this through a little more…

  11. Where was this post on Monday? LOL! I was going to paint stripes in my sons Train room, but I opted out and just painted the bottom portion of the wall. I’m going to be painting my other son’s room soon, so I am going to tuck this post away for safe keeping! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Those pictures makes me want to sprint home and start taping and painting like a mad woman! Wow they all look amazing esp the vertical b&w stripes real wow factor. Cheaper than wallpaper too even better!

  13. I have been painting stripes for years. I paint the whole wall with my base flat paint, tape stripes using a laser level, then wipe a thin layer of spackle over the edge of the tape. I get the pink spackle that turns white when dry and paintable. Once dry, I paint the stripes using my enamel or pearlescent paint. I didnt see any suggestions about using spackle, just caulk, so I thought Id throw it out there :)

  14. After painting stripes in my daughter’s room six months ago (and repainting the lines over and over to clean up the edges), I wish I had followed the advise from Layla Palmer’s blog – the lettered cottage- to use clear sealer on the tape edges. The expert paint associate from SW said that it wasn’t necessary with the new frog tape. I love frog tape, but it still bled through in places. Definitely seal the edges of your tape before painting stripes or you’ll be retouching your lines.

  15. **drool** Need Elle Decor brown stripe room NOW. In my house. Don’t care where. **drool** With these tips, I might just be brave enough to let someone else attempt it. ;)

  16. I want to give caution to painting stripes. When you want to get rid of them, it is next to impossible to sand over the line between the two colors all over your room. I spent days sanding a powder room’s paint lines and still can see some of the lines under 2 coats of BM Aura paint. I will not paint stripes again. It’s easier to take down striped wall paper.

    • Thanks so much Kathy for your comment! I hope everyone will keep that in mind when they decide to paint stripes!

  17. I never thought that I could paint stripes on my highly textured walls, but perhaps I will give it a try. Thanks for sharing.

    I am helping out a fellow blogger in need by hosting an online auction tomorrow. I would love for you to come by and take a peek and perhaps join in.

  18. I recently just painted some horizontal stripes in my living room. My hubby had a chalk string that we were able to line up and flick on a perfect chalk line. It required some painting in the lines but they look pretty awesome. The one problem? He had used red chalk so it was a pain in the butt to wipe off…still working on it. Next time we will go for white.

    But I am LOVING the idea of painting along the paint the original wall color! Brilliant! Thank you everyone !

  19. Thank you for this post! It helped me successfully paint stripes this weekend! I am so happy with how they look! Kelly

  20. I had a friend suggest to me to buy a roll of vinyl in the color you want the stripes, and skip the headache of trying to paint even lines. I took her advice and bought a large roll of vinyl (oracle 631) online for $40 and then simply applied the vinyl to the wall. It looks like I painted it and the lines are perfect! So far no one has been able to tell it is not painted. And when I am done with the stripes, I’ll simply remove the vinyl. Best tip ever!

  21. When painting vertical stripes on one wall of a very small room should the stripes be thick or thin?

    • Depends on the room Ann! I think having at least a dozen across the wall will give you a good stripe effect!

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