Painting stripes on walls or sheen striping as its called involves the process of using tape to help paint stripes on walls with the use of alternate paint sheens or colors.

By doing so you will give your room an expensive wallpaper look, without the wallpaper cost.

Sheen striping is often used in dining rooms and bedrooms by home owners who enjoy a more understated and refined look.

In some cases, contrasting paint colors from the same sample strip will work well to give a bolder appearance.

Painting stripes on walls works well in conjunction with chair rails giving a room the look of height when dealing with a low ceiling. Especially if the stripes are on the thin side. Horizontal stripes make a room look bigger if that's what your looking for but can difficult to accomplish.

If your going to do horizontal stripes use a plumb line for the best results, then once your done taping wipe with your fingers (or a damp cloth) to remove the chalk that’s left on the walls.

When sheen striping a larger room make the stripes a little more on the wide side. By doing so you'll save yourself extra work and the design tends to be easier on the eyes. Wide stripes are not a good idea in areas that have low ceilings.

All sheens from high gloss to flat have been used for sheen striping techniques I find the combination of eggshell and semi gloss to be the best choice for painting stripes on walls though.

Before you begin your painting stripes on walls technique, it’s always a good idea to practice your skills on a piece of primed bristol board or old drywall first. Do so with your chosen paint colors, sheens, tape and tools.

After your done testing your skills and are happy with your practice boards, move your furniture. Be sure to use drop cloths, along with whatever else that will be needed to protect floors and areas that you do not want coated in paint.

Walls require cleaning along with cracks and holes being filled. Use primer if needed.

The best sheen striping jobs involve choosing two different types of high quality latex paint. One in a semi gloss and the other eggshell or a satin finish. Both paints in the same color will give you a subtle look. If you would prefer something bolder then select darker shades as your main color while the stripes themselves could be a couple shades lighter.

As far as color goes implementing those that complement items in the room your painting work best. Art, furniture like a couch or chair and drapes might be places to select tones, hues, and shades from before you begin painting stripes on walls.

After the preparation is done you will need to cutting (brush) and rolling the room with two coats of your eggshell sheen. Once the eggshell has dried (48 hours is best 24 will work) you can then use a story board and pencil to pencil off where your stripes will be going.

A story board is a long stick marked at the same alternate distances with a pencil. You can use a measuring tape or yard stick if you like.

Stripes are usually 4" to 8" inches in width. As an example, your story board should be 1" by 1" and about 6' long. Your board requires markings at about every 6" with a pencil.

Hold the long side of the board (horizontally) flush with the ceiling (you will need a ladder). Have a good starting point in a hallway for example. Now, draw onto the wall small light marks beside each line that you previously marked on your story board.

Keep moving around the room putting pencil marks on your wall/s. Once that's done pencil the bottom in the same fashion. Be sure the top and bottom marks are going to line up vertically.

With the ladder and help from some extra hands use painters tape (blue medium tack is best. You can decide on what tape width will work best for you (I use 1 to 1 & 1/2"s). Line up the tape with the top mark down to the bottom pencil line.

Your helper can look after the lower part of the taping process. Press both edges of the tape down with your finger along the inside and outside to achieve a good un-jagged line.

If the tape line isn't strait (up and down) you will have to remark the wall. Be sure not to use two different sides of the tape to line up the tapes edge. What I mean is, don't use the inside top and the outside bottom of the tape, If you do your stripes will end up being at a slight angle.

After the taping is done you can begin painting stripes on walls by cutting and rolling your two coats of semi gloss. Remove the tape as soon as you’ve painted on the last coat. Touch up with chunks of tape and a brush if necessary.


Keep in mind that getting a nice perfect sharp edge with tape is almost impossible, here are a few tips to help with your painting stripes on walls project. Following the tips below will cut down on touch ups. Less touch ups of course means more time along with some extra work getting the job done.

  • Use only good quality tape. Sticky is good, to sticky is bad. You might want to test types of tapes prior to starting.
  • Press the tape down firmly on both taped edges
  • Paint stripes immediately after pressing the tape down
  • Very lightly caulk both sides of the tape before rolling paint on
  • lightly paint (brush) both sides of the tape before rolling
  • Practice your striping on bristol or old drywall board first

If you caulk your tape lines prior to rolling on your paint you will need a steady hand, use very minimal amounts of paint-able caulking and be sure to smooth the caulking out with your finger.

What your trying to do is create a seal between the tape and wall using either paint-able caulk a very light first layer of paint or both. An initial heavy application of paint will almost always seep under the tapes edges. A light layer of paint or caulking to start tends to work best.

Whether you brush a first coat of paint onto the tape, caulk it or both, either one needs to dry prior to rolling the wall.

Testing all of the above procedures on old drywall or primed bristol board is probably the number one tip to follow. Once your happy with the result of your practice work proceed to painting stripes on walls.

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