How to Paint Stripes on a Wall

I’m one of the crazy people who does a home improvement project the week of a major holiday. Yes, just a few days before Thanksgiving we decided to painted the guest room.It wasn’t just solid, regular ole painting, it was stripes! Although I haven’t accessorized the room {or decorated it at all}, I wanted to show you how to paint stripes on a wall.

First, figure out what kind of stripes you’ll be putting up. Vertical, horizontal, how wide, what colors.

I wanted to have wide horizontal stripes so I measured our room’s height (9 feet), subtracted the height of the baseboard (8 inches). I wanted gray at the top and bottom to contrast with the white ceiling, wood baseboard and so it would “frame” the room.

108 inch walls – 8 inch baseboards = 100 inches to work with

Since we wanted grey on the top and bottom, that meant an odd number of stripes. With the number of inches we had, that worked out to 7 stripes.

7 stripes into 100 = 14.25 inches each.

Now that quarter inch may not seem like a big deal, maybe round it up or down to 14 inches each, but then you have 1 stripe that is wider than the others and that was not the look I was going for. So 14.25 inches it was.

As I mentioned in the previous post about the stripes, I decided to use white and light gray since they were colors I had leftover and I wanted a neutral look to the room.

2. Paint one of the colors on the wall.  With this base color (white) I didn’t have to trim the top or bottom of the room since I knew it was going to be in the other color (gray).

See no trimming! Just roll that stuff on! Well you have to trim in the corners and later with the second color, so don’t get too excited.

3. After our first color (white) was dry we began measuring out the stripes. I did this with a good old fashioned yard stick and marked off on the wall 14.25 inches from the top of the baseboard and then another 14.25 inches above that mark. I did this all the way around the room with a pencil and measured up as far as I could reach before we got the ladder.

4. Ones your marks are on the wall, use the yardstick to mark a pencil line all the way around the room at the marks you just made. Here you are actually making the lines for the stripes.

There might be other ways to do this, like not draw the lines at all and just tape from mark to mark, but I didn’t try that. I measured, drew the line then taped at the line.

5. Then you tape. This is where my handy husband came in. As I was marking, he was taping.  I seriously recommend you get the wide tape. You need it for this project, spring for the wide tape.  We used 1 and a half rolls for this room.

Very important when you tape off the stripes, {and this could mess up your whole project if you do it wrong} make sure you are taping on the correct side of the lines.Take a look at where you should be painting and tape on the correct side of the line so all your paint is in the correct side stripe. Check and check again that you have it correct.

Also, if you can try to tape just outside the pencil line so it will get covered up by the paint you are putting on.  If you cant do this, no problem, you can erase it later like I did.

Once you do this you’ll have what are some wider and narrower stripes, but this is OK because it means your stripes are taped correctly.

What number are we on? 6. Once all the tape is up, we painted the base color (white) onto the edges of the stripes where there was to go the second (gray) color. And we marked what stripes would be gray just so we didn’t paint the wrong one.

See the white paint over parts of the tape below? This is to prevent the stripe color (gray) from bleeding through your tape mark. So basically you are putting on more of the base color (white) over where you just painted it but along the taped lines inside the stripe. Make sense?


7. After that paint dries, roll on your second color (gray is what we used). Here is where you think of kindergarten and you have to stay inside the lines while you color paint. Here is also where it’s helpful to have the wide tape because I don’t know about you but I’m a little loose with the roller sometimes and if you roll a little too far, you’ll go overboard.


See, overboard. Paint outside the lines = not what you want. Just wipe it off with a damp paper towel or paint over it with the other color once it is dry.


8. Carefully peel away your tape and you’ll have perfect lines! We did this while the paint was wet. Some people wait until it’s dry but then your paint can stick and you don’t want that.


9. If your walls are a little wonky your tape might not be perfectly on or next to the pencil line, but that’s OK.  Just erase any stray pencil lines with your trusty, had-it-since-7th-grade snowman pencil eraser.


This project took almost a week because I let some paint dry overnight and went back to do the next steps the next day. Since I’m a evening and weekend DIYer, sometimes I do quick steps over several nights.

Here is why I was so serious about taping the correct side of the line when you are at that part. Someone in our family, and there are only two of us and it wasn’t me, taped the wrong side of the line. I still love him.

Turns out it was on the top strip because we left that one overnight cause we had to go get the ladder. So we came back the next day and apparently forgot how to do this and accidentally taped the wrong side of the tape. This will give you a stripe that is not the same size as the others. At first it didn’t look bad since it was at the top but I couldn’t just leave it the wrong size so we re taped.

To repaint this part I lightly sanded the edge of the paint line since it can create a slight bump. You can see the leftover from the sanding in this pic. See where it’s lighter gray and smudgy on the gray? Then I painted again with my base color, let that dry and finally rolled on the gray again.

This is a good photo to see the painting of the base color along the tape to prevent the bleeding.


This is not the greatest demo picture but here you can see what happens if you don’t paint the base color over the edge of your tape. The color bleeds. It’s worth the extra 10 minutes it will take you to get perfect lines.


Eventually, 9 steps later, you’ll have perfect stripes I promise 🙂


Any questions?  And as soon as I decorate this space, I’ll be sure to show you the whole package! I’m actually considering some accent colors. Any suggestions?

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  1. i have been wanting to do this to my dining romm turned office! thanks for the how to! love it!

  2. Great job Jessica! 🙂 I love the color you used for the gray – what is that?

  3. I LOVE stripes in a room. I had them at my other house..until I get smoother walls (you don’t even want to imagine how wonky these walls are), I have to hold off.

    This looks lovely! Great color choices too.

    I popped over from the TCB blog frog discussion…your blog is gorgeous! I am a new follower!
    504 Main

  4. Hi all, Thanks for the comments and for following!

    The gray is Dolphin by Martha Stewart available at Home Depot.

  5. Mr. I-taped-the-top-stripe-wrong says:

    I’m glad you still love me.

  6. Looks great! I did the same thing in my daughter’s room last month. I used the same tricks you did as well as pressed the tape down realllllly hard all the way around.

  7. I have painted many stripes & shapes on walls and here is a good trick I learned, Instead of drawing lines with pencil use water color pencil. Match color really close and then when you paint it blends in and no erasing pencil marks. I do this and don’t tape, but you do need steady hand so if your hand is not steady then tape and actually the green frog tape works better in my opinion. The blue tape some times can pull of paint from underneath.


  8. Hi nice strips great you mentioned people’s biggest mistake. After taping on wrong side of course. Painting base color over tape first letting it dry then paint strip best advice I learned ever. I would have taped the very top along ceiling though in pic the lines are so crisp but top is all wavy Make the wrong side taper get up there and fix it 😉

  9. Oh how i wish i would have came across this over the weekend! i just painted stripes for my boys nursery and i still need to go back and touch up all the bleeding this weekend lol. Great to know for the future though!

  10. Christina says:

    What if you’re doing 2 costs of paint on the stripe? I have to leave the tape on so I’m worried about letting it dry and then doing that 2nd coat. ..

    • Hi Christina,

      You can just leave the tape on if you are doing 2 coats, no problem! I’ve done this before on items. If it is the wall, it should be no problem. I hope that helps.

  11. I followed your instructions to a T!!! And my room turned out perfect!!! I can’t thank you enough!! Wish I knew how to attach a pic to this comment 🙂 (I used frog tape rather than the blue painters tape. I think it may have helped with sealing the edges a little better too)

  12. So the base color goes on the side of the stripe, is that correct?

  13. Love it says:

    Love the grey and white stripes… I did my son’s room in airplanes last year (his daddy collected model planes when he was little so we used those) and I painted the walls a deep navy blue and all of his furniture is white and his floor is white hardwood so I painted his ceiling white and grey stripes… And his curtains are white and grey stripes and the whole room has orange accents… It’s my favorite room in the house… Me and my dad taped the whole ceiling and he painted it with a paint brush… It’s beautiful

    • Hi,

      Thanks for leaving a comment and telling me about your son’s room. It sounds fantastic. And you are brave for painting the ceiling! Glad you are so proud of the space and thanks for reading my blog.

  14. after you tape spread a light coat of clear caulk on the edge of the tape, then paint with second color, learned this by striping textured walls.


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