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6 easy steps | how to paint stripes and a perfectly straight line

Sometimes there is just nothing better than getting your hands dirty. I find painting so soothing. I love doing it. I like to think & process & love the quiet. I have painted every wall of every home I have owned…with my two hands (& a bit of help.)

I come from a long line of painters. My grandfather made his living running a Sherwin Williams paint store. My grandmother was the designer in the store. My mother had her own side stenciling business. I have many fond memories of just my dad & I painting together over the years. This year, I put everyone to work when they came to visit for the holidays. Between my dad, brother & I, we knocked out the big playroom in one day. Which was great! AND…after several of you begged me to share how I painted my stripes in the foyer, I thought I would get my camera out to show you just exactly how to paint a perfectly straight line on a curved wall! This technique has SO MANY applications. STRIPES!! (just add in some math) Painted headboards. Chalkboards on walls. Chevron patterns. The possibilities are endless…(get inspired here) So here’s how!


  • a long level (48 inches recommended)
  • frog tape (the GREEN, not the blue stuff! TRUST ME! More info here.) found exclusively at Lowe’s.
  • a clean, dry rag
  • all purpose caulk that is PAINTABLE & dries CLEAR
  • paint


1. MAKE A STRAIGHT LINE USING A LEVEL. I was re-painting this room, so I already had used the long (48 inch) level to mark straight lines. So that made it easy. But you’ll need to start there to ensure a straight line. I usually run the tape down the level when taping off stripes (instead of chalking off the wall.) It helps to have a second set of hands to do this, but I have only done it alone! *sidenote: You can see from the image below that I learned a lesson the first time around, which I corrected this time. More on that in a bit…but notice the white caulk dried behind the sagey paint edge…not so great.

2. RUB THE TAPE WITH YOUR FINGERS, & THEN A RAG to get a clean seal. This two step process works wonders on this terrible Texas texture. I have never seen anything like it! 
If you do not get a good seal, you will not get a straight line and/or your caulk will seep under the tape, as seen in the first picture. Below is an example of a BAD seal. 
You want to get a solid but thin coat of caulk. Wipe excess off the wall. Your main focus is the seam. 
once it has dried. I waited about an hour or so. Just until it was not tacky anymore. I used a brush (I prefer Purdy brushes) to cover the seam.
6. PULL TAPE OFF AT A 45° ANGLE! This is VERY important. This breaks the seal from the caulk & the tape in a crisp line. If you try to pull straight up, the caulk might lift & you will have a mess.

& just to make sure you know that lime green isn’t some hideous design disaster (it’s Valspar La Fonda Olive), I thought I’d give you a peek at my playroom-in-progress! I painstakingly sewed the [lined!! grommetted!!] curtains myself. You can see my two wall ledges above the magnetic/chalkboard wall peeking out. I will eventually cover that little brown chair in a fun fabric. Next up: trashing the back cushions of my couch & replacing them with giant 30×30 feather pillows. I will be sewing mismatched but coordinating pillowcases for each pillow. :) Just as soon as I can pick the rest of the fabrics! I hate those couches, but they are sort of the perfect pieces of don’t-care-about-you furniture for a playroom. I think I will get slipcovers for the bottom half eventually. But I can never find slipcovers with decent ottoman covers too. Suggestions?

& lastly…getting some positive feedback on the DIY posts…would you do me a favor & click the “like” button below this post…if, of course you like this? I do love comments, but if you don’t have time, just hit the “like” button so I know this is the kind of thing you enjoy. This will give me a really great idea of what the hot topics really are!! :):):)

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  • Chelsea McCown - thinking about stripes (but horizontal) for the big boy toddler room I hope to finish this spring, thanks for the tip!!ReplyCancel

  • shannel - Great tips and thanks for the step-by-step tutorial. I’m sure I’ll be referring to it or sending a friend this way one day in the future!ReplyCancel

  • Jamie - I always love to see what you have going on! It makes me want to play and get my hands dirty! I have been living with my parents since my youngest was born in May, we are finally moving to a rental soon, but we won’t own again for a couple of years and it makes me sad that I won’t get to do much until then! Thanks for sharing and inspiring me and so many others!ReplyCancel

  • Renee Booe - This is amazing!!! I have spent hours edging textured Texas walls by hand. Seriously hours. Wow. Thanks for the tip. Never would have thought of using caulk.ReplyCancel

  • casey - Sneaking in a little facebook time while on a break from student teaching…;)….I love your diy posts!!! What is that lovely yellow rectangle dodad hanging on the wall?? Board to hang artwork on? Needing some inspiration for my art loving daughters bedroom…ReplyCancel

  • meghan - Totally did used this technique this weekend (heard it from a friend who hired and pro painter and watched) while I painted my crazy textured and bullnosed walls for installing a chair rail. Also came in crazy handy for when I painted my bedroom wall black! My celing and corner lines are perfect!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - The step-by-step photos are trés helpful! Love how the curtains turned out! Can’t wait to see the final reveal! :)ReplyCancel

  • Nicole - Gorgeous!!!! I painted horizontal stripes in my living room
    and love it!!!!!! Very tedious work, but well worth the effort!!!!
    It’s good to know that I did it like a professional!! Thanks for
    the awesome post!!!! NicoleReplyCancel

  • laura - Love the info on stripes, and will use in future but Home
    Depot now sells the Frog Tape too.ReplyCancel

  • Beth - I love this. Very helpful. I always wanted to do either horizontal or vertical stripes but always worried about the paint bleeding through the tape, getting the tape on straight (still worries me)and getting even stripes. This is helpful and encouraging! Thank you!
    As for a slipcovers, the Ektorp line from Ikea have a bunch of slipcovers (and pretty cheap – espeically the white)for sofas, armchairs, ottoman, etc.ReplyCancel

    • -shawna- - @Casey–the yellow thing is a random giant magnetic ‘something’ that I got at the pottery barn outlet…marked $99, bought for $7.50! Plan to print a bunch of quotes, postcard style, from my inspiration folder on pinterest! @Jamie–you can do some really beautiful things with white walls! play with fabric!!! @Laura—THANK YOU for filling me in! Last I went there was none in sight, then I found it at Lowe’s…so they much have it back! yea!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - I’ve never heard about the caulking step. I know that just taking painter’s tape off can also remove the fresh paint. That alone would have kept me from attempting straight lines.

    I love the curtains! Can’t wait to see more (especially the magnetic chalk board wall and your salvaged door)!ReplyCancel

  • Tina Coco - Great job! Thanks so much for taking the time to explain things so clearly. Your info was a Godsend!ReplyCancel

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