Thursday, September 26, 2013

Painting Stripes Tutorial

Before we get started, congrats to Megan M., who is the winner of the Better Homes & Gardens subscription!  Enjoy!!

A few weeks ago, I painted one wall in our spare bedroom with big, bold stripes.  I love the visual interest that stripes provide, and since the wall I chose faces the hallway, it creates a nice focal point when looking into the spare bedroom from the hall area.  I opted to paint the room light gray, with stripes in a darker shade of gray.  I truly thought that painting stripes would be difficult, but it was actually one of the easier projects I have done!  I had envisioned having difficulty getting the lines straight and evenly spaced, but my method worked beautifully!

I started by painting the entire room the base color (pale gray, in my case).  Then, I measured the height of the wall (96 inches).  I knew that I wanted to have seven large stripes, starting and ending with my base color.  That equaled out to 13.7 inches per stripe, which required too much precise measuring for me. So I rounded it down to 13.5 inches per stripe, knowing that if the bottom stripe was slightly wider that it wouldn't be noticeable (or even visible, since the bottom of the wall is mostly blocked by furniture).

I had heard that the best way to paint stripes on a wall was to use long level (several feet long) to keep the lines straight.  But when I checked at the store, long levels cost about $50.  Uh, no. I devised a way to make our medium-sized level (which is about 24 inches long) work just fine.  I didn't want to have to measure 13.5 inches again and again, so I measured 13.5 inches from the top of the level and marked the spot with a strip of painter's tape.

Starting at the top of the wall, I measured 13.5 inches down from the ceiling using my tape line to measure the distance and the leveling bubble to ensure that I was holding the level straight up and down.  I made a tiny pencil mark to mark my place (13.5 inches from the top) at the far left corner of my focal wall. Then, I moved over about three feet (as far as my outstretched arms would let me reach), measured 13.5 inches down from the ceiling again, and made another tiny pencil mark. The part about not making your pencil marks further apart from each other than you can reach with both hands will come in handy in subsequent steps.  I continued, working in 3 foot increments, until I reached the far right end of the wall.  Then, I measured 13.5 inches down from my first row of pencil marks and made a second row, also about 3 feet apart. Basically, you are creating dotted lines that you will use to apply your painter's tape. I continued until I had dotted lines for each of the 6 tape lines I needed.

It looked something like this.

Next, I stretched my painter's tape along the lines, making sure that I aligned the edges exactly where I had made my pencil marks. Since my dots were just an arms width apart, I found it easy to start on the left side of the wall, and stretch the tape straight between dots.  Since the tape is already straight, the result was a perfectly straight tape line that was far easier to achieve than I had imagined!  I had to keep in mind that for the dark gray stripes, I needed to tape outside the area to be painted dark gray.  For the stripes that were to remain light gray, I had to tape within the area that would remain light gray. This process was the same I used when spray painting stripes on my family room curtains.

I also applied tape to the corner portion of the wall adjacent to the focal wall, thereby keeping paint off of those walls as well. 

*Tip for Perfectly Crisp Paint Lines*
After applying tape, paint one layer of your base coat along the tape line. Once dry, follow up with as many layers of your accent color as necessary.  Any paint that bleeds underneath the tape line will be the same color as your base color, and will thus be invisible.  Perfect paint lines!!

I used a foam brush to paint the edges, in order to avoid brush marks, and  then rolled as close to the tape lines as possible. I applied two coats of dark gray paint to each stripe, and removed the tape immediately after painting in order to avoid the tape pulling any of my paint away from the wall.

Sorry for the terrible I-phone pictures.  I'm hesitant to get my fancy camera out when I'm painting or doing a messy project.

I'm so pleased with the results!  Keep in mind that we've done NOTHING but paint in this room.  I didn't even bother to wait for better lighting.  Or stage the room for pictures.  What would I have staged it with?! This room is such a hodge-podge.  But the paint job sure is fab!


What do you think of bold walls?  Would you try stripes?

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