DIY: Painting Wall Stripes the Fast Way — Time-saving Tips From a Lazy Girl !


Do you have a very vanilla room in your home that’s painted a boring builder’s beige  and you’d like to add a little something extra?  Or maybe it is painted a bold color and you’d like to turn down the volume a little?  If so, this post is for you!  When I moved into my home, one of the bedrooms was painted an extremely neutral light beige.  I had been wanting to paint stripes on a wall in my home for a while, so I decided painting striped walls would be the way to give this room maximum pizazz with minimal work.

Without further ado, let me show you my new striped office walls!

This whole project took about three hours to complete with the help of my tall husband. It was so easy I wished I had done it sooner.  There are thousands of DIY tutorials on how to paint wall stripes, so I’m not going to give you a step-by-step of the process. What I’m going to do instead is tell you all my lazy shortcuts to get the job done as fast as possible!

So, here are my best tips on how to make things fast and easy when painting stripes on the wall.  I think most of these tips would apply if you were painting chevron stripes, too.

1. Use whatcha got. …In more ways than one. If you happen to have a bunch of extra paint samples lying around in your basement like me, then use those instead of buying even more paint. This saves you a trip to the store, not to mention the cost factor. And, you know, the time it takes to get out of your pajamas to go out in public.

For my white stripes I poured all the leftover white-ish paint samples into a Tupperware bowl…and danced around the room shaking it for a minute or so until it was all mixed together. Sure I had to wash the bowl later, but that was easier than putting on real pants and going to the store for new paint. It’s all about convenience here, people!

If you do this, just be sure to mix enough paint to cover all of your stripes (plus touch-ups!) because you will NEVER get that paint color to match again.

Now, here is the key to this whole timesaving process, so listen up!  Use your existing paint color as the base layer of paint.  Unless it’s something really hideous, you can probably find a complementary color to go with your existing paint.  The stripes are going to change the entire look of the wall anyway.  Now, if you have plenty of time and you hate your current paint color, then you might want to repaint the whole wall and then paint stripes on top.  But if you have a good base paint color that isn’t too scuffed, use it and don’t waste precious time painting everything twice. The only drawback to this method is when you don’t have a can for touchups for your original paint.  The previous owners painted my room so I had no extra paint for touchups if I really messed up the wall.  I solved that problem by wiping up any smudges immediately before they dried. Keep a wet paper towel nearby to swipe off the paint that might creep over the tape edge. Or use thicker tape and don’t get sloppy.

2. Remember lucky number seven. And other odd numbers. Here’s what I discovered in all my stripe painting experience–aim to have an odd number of horizontal stripes on your wall. To decide the width of your stripes, measure the total height of the wall from the ceiling to the base molding and divide by seven. If you want thicker stripes, divide by five. For skinny stripes divide by nine or more. Here is why: If you follow my advice in rule #1, then you can leave your existing paint color at the top and the bottom of the wall, and just paint the center stripes without ever touching the majority of your trim! Besides, groupings of odd numbers are always good design.  If you are a Captain Shakyhand like me, this tip is the biggest time saver of them all. The less cutting-in you have to do, the better.

3. Use tape for your hash and reminder marks. Not a pencil. Trust me. A big piece of blue tape is much easier to see than a tiny pencil mark when you are trying to line up levels.  Just remember if you used the top or the bottom of the piece of tape for your measurement and stay consistent. To keep track of which stripe won’t get painted, stick a few pieces of tape inside it as reminder markers.  It provides a visual cue for which stripe is to be painted and which is to stay the existing color. Also, remember that you want the stripes being painted to be full width so put the tape inside the stripes that will not get painted.

4. Measure (from the top down). When you’re putting your tape hash marks on the wall, always measure from the ceiling down. Put the metal end of the tape measure at the ceiling and bend the tape as you go down the wall, holding it in place with one hand and pulling more tape out with the other. This accomplishes two things. First, you can actually read the number on the tape accurately since it’s not up at the ceiling.

Secondly, if you measure your stripe increments from the ceiling down you can leave any “leftover” millimeters or inches down at the bottom of the wall and have a slightly thicker base stripe. Why waste time bothering with all the math to get each stripe exactly right down to the eight of an inch when you can just round off all the excess to the bottom stripe? Save all that brain power for your next game of Words With Friends and make it easy on yourself.

Nobody will notice the stripes aren’t all the same width. Especially if you’re putting furniture in front of the bottom part of the wall anyway. It probably goes without saying, but you do need to consider your moldings. If you have crown molding (I didn’t in this room) measure from the bottom of the molding to the top of the base trim. That way you don’t have one skinny stripe at the top and one thicker stripe at the bottom.

5. Invest in good masking tape (and a few other optional items). You want to use tape that sticks to the wall really well so your colors don’t bleed together too much and get all wiggly on the edges. You don’t want tape that will leave sticky goo on your walls or rip the sheetrock off in the removal process. I like the blue painters tape from 3M.  Frogtape is another excellent choice for this job. There is a reason it’s called “painter’s tape”. Make life easier and use it!

Another thing that makes painting stripes easier, a laser level on a tripod.

6. Don’t watch paint dry. Get the tape off while the paint is still wet so your tape doesn’t get glued to the wall. That could add a lot of headache to this process. On the other hand, don’t remove your tape too soon and realize that you missed a spot that needed a touch up. As soon as the second coat went on and I was sure the whole stripe was 100% covered I removed the tape. Don’t dilly dally and let your tape get too stuck or you might regret it.

7. Stay subtle. Even with good tape, bleed-through squiggle is bound to happen. Stark contrasting paints show a lot of mistakes. Colors that are just a few shades from your base color are more forgiving. The mistakes are still there, you just won’t notice them as much. If you want to save time, it’s better to go with two colors that are close on the spectrum to each other just so you don’t have to go back and touchup.

8. Manage your expectations. To elaborate further on that last tip… don’t expect perfection. Your walls are probably not perfectly straight or even, so don’t stress out too much about getting your tape PERFECTLY LEVEL. If you fudge a quarter of an inch or so in either direction nobody will ever notice. I discovered that my wall had two big humps in it that made the tape look really wonky from the side angle. Can you see it below (left)? But once it was painted, it looked just fine. You’d never be able to tell that my crooked wall was so hump-back, hump-back.

That’s close enough to perfect for me!!! Don’t sweat the small stuff and all that.

And finally, the last tip I have for making things faster when painting stripes: Use disposable paint trays and cheap rollers. If you don’t mind sparing a few bucks, toss them in the trash after you’re finished. Life is too short to spend it scrubbing paint out of used rollers.

So there you go! Those are my tips for getting your striped walls painted as quickly as possible without sacrificing any of the prettiness factor.

Good luck with your stripes! I hope I’ve saved you a little bit of hassle should you decide to join The Stripe Club, too. If you’ve painted stripes before, what tips would you recommend for making the process go smoother?

Please share!

Now that the walls are completed, I can get to the fun part, like choosing a beautiful rug to accessorize the room!

Maybe this one perhaps? Link to the rug is in the caption.

What do you think of my DIY stripes?

18 thoughts on “DIY: Painting Wall Stripes the Fast Way — Time-saving Tips From a Lazy Girl !

  1. Great tips!! I love this room, love, love! I’ve been thinking about trying stripes in our office/playroom ever since you posted this on your blog. It just looks so easy here, and we have a ton of extra paint at our house!

  2. Wow – 3 hours to do this?! That’s amazing! My spare bedroom/office is screaming out for stripes, I’m seriously considering trying this out. Love your tips about measuring – big timesavers there! And mixing together leftover white paints – that’s just genius. Thanks for inspiring me today!

    • No problem, Susan! I hope that you get the opportunity to paint some stripes in your office. They will transform a space quicker than any other technique, IMO. Don’t forget to shake, shake, shake your paint! 🙂 Send pics if you do paint it please!

  3. Hi Beth….
    Great tips for painting stripes! I painted my home studio with vertical stripes and love the look. I wanted to create a somewhat “dressy” look, so I used the same creamy beige color for all the stripes, but alternated between flat paint and high gloss paint. I’ve had quite a few people complement me on my studio wallpaper…..they are stunned when I tell them it’s just paint!!!
    Would be super easy for anyone to duplicate this tone-on-tone stripe look using their existing paint color. Just buy your current paint color in gloss finish and paint every other stripe (using your directions, of course!)…..
    Cheers!
    Cecilia

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