The Way My Walls Wear Stripes

Updated: Feb 17, 2019

I have tried, tested, and cried over several ideas on how to paint stripes. My experience includes painting walls, floors, and ceilings (the example below shows ceiling projects we completed in the past).

There are two key “musts” for perfect lines and an easier life. Yes, I am going to give up the secret right now, so you can stop skimming if you wish!

  • An absolute must-HAVE: a chalk reel with non-permanent chalk

  • An absolute must-DO: paint over the tape with your base color before painting your stripe color (further details below)

Here are the nitty-gritty details:


Make sure the surface is clean, patched, and ready to paint. Paint your base color (the color of the whole room). If you are using the same color in different sheens, paint the flat color first as your base. Wait until each coat is dry before starting the next step.


Determine the direction and approximate width of your stripes. Stripes are often four to twelve inches wide. Larger stripes can work, but I find anything under four inches is way too busy.

In order to determine the size of your stripes, Sherwin-Williams Paint & Supply Company suggests: “Measure and calculate the total area of the wall(s) being painted to determine how many stripes on paper, tweaking the size of the stripes to suit the dimensions so that all stripes will be of equal size. Divide by an odd number to ensure your first and last stripe are the same color.”

Using a pencil on the surface, mark the width of your stripes at the two endpoints of your stripe. Applying the above-mentioned chalk reel filled with non-permanent chalk* and a buddy, stretch the line the length of your stripe. With one hand holding the reel, use the other to snap the line against the surface. This will give you a clean, straight line to run your tape along. If you do not have a buddy to help, tape the end of the line at your first pencil mark and carefully stretch the line across the surface.

*Reels and chalk are available at your local hardware store. I picked up both at Ace Hardware on the island. The non-permanent chalk came in a yellow bottle with a purple lid.


Use fat tape. This helps prevent accidental run-overs and gives you the room to move a little more quickly. Run the tape along your chalk lines to the outside of the area that you are going to paint. For example: If you're painting white and blue stripes, the stripes are six inches wide, and your base color is white, the tape should be inside of what will be the white stripe area, leaving a six-inch gap for the blue stripe.

Lastly, use a duster to brush away any visible chalk.


Though it might sounds tedious, painting over the tape with your base color is completely necessary for a crisp, clean line. This fills in any tiny spots where the tape is not 100% adhering to your surface. If you're running low on your base color, paint the side of the tape that will be changing colors.

Resuming the previous example: Paint the tape on the side of the six-inch gap, which will be filled in with blue paint.

After the base color over the tape dries, go to town painting in your stripe color or new sheen. Be sure to go over the tape a bit to fill it all in. Apply at least two coats with the appropriate dry time in between.


Gently peeling off the tape is a totally satisfying experience. It’s like Christmas if you followed the above steps correctly.


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