How to Paint Stripes

Painted stripes are a popular faux finish used in a variety of interior settings. Stripes are versatile and range in size from pinstripes to wide 6″ or larger stripes. Soft almost mono tone stripes have a classy look to them as does a shimmer stripe done with varnish or paints of different sheens. Stripe Atlas

Laying out your stripes

You stripe a room in the same way that you would hang wallpaper. Start in an inconspicuous corner and work your way around the room from that point. Your starting point will be your finishing point after you circle your way around the room.

Size of stripes

A simple way to stripe is to do so in standard masking tape widths. I often do 2″ stripes, which is a standard masking tape width.

Number of colors

You can do your stripes in two, three or more colors, but if you are new to the striping technique I would recommend just two colors.

Two color striping is done by first painting the walls in total in one of your stripe colors and then masking off and painting to obtain the second stripe. In practical terms if you are painting 2″ stripes, you would paint your room in the first stripe color, then apply masking tape at 2″ intervals (a word on how to mask straight lines – see below) throughout the whole room. Once the masking tape is in place you paint the walls again with the second stripe color. When each section or wall is done, remove the masking tape to reveal your two color striping.

Masking tape

You must use easy release blue tape for your stripes. A good tape for striping is 3M’s #2080 blue tape which is a smooth , easy release tape which will make it possible to get clean lines with a minimum of bleeding under the tape. Rub down the edge of the tape to ensure a good tight bond which the paint won’t bleed under. When pulling the tape off , pull gently at a 45 degree angle from the surface.

How to lay down straight stripes

The best way – or perhaps I should say the easiest way is to use a laser level. Center the level, level it properly, line your tape up with the vertical laser line working your way down the wall moving the laser level as you work your way around the room..

Not everyone has a laser level, for those who don’t, a 4′ bubble type level works fine. If you use a standard bubble level you will need to put pencil marks on the wall to line up the tape. Keep the pencil marks light and don’t cover them with the tape as you lay the tape down. Remember if the marks show when the tape is down, they will be painted over. If the marks don’t show (because the tape is covering the lines) then you will not be painting over the marks and they will show when you remove the tape.

Reasonable expectations

With striping you can get some ridging at the tape edge especially if you put on a heavy coat of paint or apply multiple coats for your stripes. When it comes time to repaint down the road, you will probably need to do some sanding or skim coating with spackle to smooth out any paint ridge lines so that they don’t show through the next coat of paint. Like wallpaper removal, some faux finishes may require some extra surface preparation when it comes time to recoat.