Painting Stripes and Lines

Lines and stripes add a classic touch to any room. Used in abundance, they create a regular, color block effect or make a room's ceiling seem higher. Used sparsely, they can break up a room's space visually or create a minimalist look for your walls.


Dragging is the practice of applying a solid coat of paint to a wall then dragging a brush through the wet paint. Vertical or horizontal stripes - or even patterns - can be produced this way. However, if you plan to use this technique to decorate your walls, it is best to choose a small area to cover (like the upper or lower half of the walls), as the effect requires the lines to be produced without lifting the brush. Unless you are tall enough and have steady hands, dragging the brush through the paint from ceiling to floor while keeping the lines straight can be nearly impossible. In addition, this technique could be used on a variety of smaller surfaces, like tabletops or wooden picture frames.

First, prepare a 1:1 ratio of latex paint and wallpaper paste. Cover the wall with this mixture a small section at a time. Slightly moisten the brush you will use for dragging in the mixture so that it does not remove too much paint with the first few strokes. Hold the handle of the brush in one hand, and use your other hand to press on the bristles of the brush so they flatten but don't splay too much. Drag the brush through the paint with as steady a motion as possible, repeating over the painted surface. You may have to add more paint to seams or joints where two areas meet. Your wall will now have small, repetitive stripes running the length or width of the area.


To create a smooth, clean line to bisect your room horizontally or vertically, you will need to measure and tape carefully. For vertical lines, a plumb will help you to achieve the best results. For a horizontal line, measure evenly up from the floor (or down from the ceiling) the whole length of the desired line. Use a straight-edge to draw in the first line with a pencel. Then use the same method to draw a second line that will give you a guide for how wide you want your line to be.

Carefully apply painter's tape to the outer edges of each line you drew, leaving the area to be painted free of tape. Make sure the tape is pressed down firmly so that paint doesn't seep beneath it when you paint. Use a foam brush or a brush with bristles to paint your line. Allow the paint to dry, then remove the tape.


Creating striped walls will employ a similar method to painting lines. When you begin to draw in your stripes (most likely, these will be vertical), you will want to begin at the center of the "most important" wall and work your way outward, making sure you finish drawing at an inconspicuous point (like a corner).

Begin by marking the center of your wall. Then make marks that will represent how wide you plan to paint your stripes. If you want evenly-spaced stripes of the same width, measure that width and mark it as you go around the room. If you wish to have large stripes that interchange with smaller stripes, measure and mark accordingly.

Use a short length of plumb (a foot or less) to begin making marks from the ceiling down. You can get the straightest lines by starting at your first mark, marking where the plumb ends, and then moving the plumb down the length of the wall vertically, making marks as you go. Do this for all of the intended stripes.

Use painter's tape to mask the lines, placing the tape at the outer edges of the stripes you wish to paint, smoothing the tape securely to the wall. Then paint your stripes the desired color.

When dry, remove the tape by pulling it away from the painted area. You will have a classy striped wall or room ready for decorating!