DIY – Painted Stripes (The Right Way!)

Are looking for that “wow!” factor on a budget? Painted stripes are amongst the best and least expensive ways of making a statement. Allot of methods to do stripes appear on DIY sources, but I know of only one way to ensure clean, crisp, painted stripes! This is a technique shared with me good friend’s sister. Margot Datz, is a well known Tromp Loi’el painter and book illustrator. She this technique on Bob Villa’s Home Again some years ago, and it has never once failed me.

Here’s what you need:

  • Blue 3M painters tap
  • An 18” ruler
  • A white Conte pencil
  •  A laser level – this is my addition. Not the type that rely on removable adhesive wall strips! You will live to regret it. The same is true of snap chalk – too many variations in result.
  • Acrylic Matte Medium. On a limited budget, you can mix equal parts of Elmer’s Glue (all purpose) and warm water.
  •  A 1” brush, sponge brush, or a surgical glove (to apply with your finger tip)

And remember – protect the floors properly!

There’s a right way to protect your floor!

The best method is taping down rolls of brown paper. These can be purchased inexpensively on The paper is rolled out the length of the floor, leaving a 1” area of exposed flooring between lengths of paper. Wide tape is centered along the exposed 1” of floor, covering the seams of the paper and the exposed floor, as well as the perimeter of your room. Plastic covers slip and be dangerous, and ineffective. Papering the floor takes longer, but frees you from distraction by preventing disasters.

Proper paint prep is the key to professional results! If you have stains, seal them with stain killing primer. If you have wall gauges or cracks, patch ( here’s a “how to” video” ) and prime your patches! Otherwise, they will show through your paint.

1.   Choose 2 colors you love.

2.   Apply 2 coats of the lighter color to all areas where striping will be applied. Let the paint cure for no less than 24 hours before taping.

 3.   If you are doing horizontal stripes, choose a good width. For a 9-ft high wall, 12” is ideal. If your walls are an odd height, (such as 92”) measure your 12” stripes from the ceiling down with your ruler; your narrowest stripe should end at the floor. Make a registration mark with your pencil at 3-4 foot intervals along the wall.

4  Vertical stripes are easy; most walls are in 12” lengths. It looks best if you start at a corner, marking 6” on either side of the corner so that stripes bend around corners.

5  Mount your laser so that the red line intersects the registration marks you made using your ruler and pencil as guides.

6  Tape along the red line, pressing it down with your thumb or a squeegee as you go to eliminate air bubbles. Remember to tape outside your laser line! Use a level to check your work. 

7.   This crucial – use a 1” sponge brush, or your latex gloved finger to apply the acrylic matte medium to the inside edges of your taped stripes. This will stop the darker color to bleed into the lighter strip.

 8  Using a roller, apply your second paint color. Be sure your roller is not over-loaded (it should not drip when lifted out of the paint pan).

9  When the paint is still tacky to the touch, carefully pull the tape away.

Voila! Gorgeous stripes emerge with clean crisp edges, providing your room with that instant decorator look!

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