How to Paint A Wall: Lessons from Painting Stripes


My friend Rachel recently had a sister return from a two year sojourn in Italy (or a mission, as most people would call it). Rachel’s family has a little tradition that before a child returns from their mission, their room gets a little make over.

Rachel became the appointed designer, and I became the partner in crime. I discovered that I LOVE painting! No wonder my older brother loves his job building and designing sets. If I could come home everyday, clothes spattered with paint, and paint on my nails, and pay my way through college, I’d be happier then a pig in mud!

I also enjoyed the project itself. It’s pretty cool to make something that can be enjoyed by others. So for those of you who would like to also experience the fulfilling feeling of accomplishment that comes from beautifying your space, here are some tips for you to make your painting project go smoother.  As a couple young adults, we learned a lot. 

TAPING– Probably the most important part of making a graphically pleasing design.

  • For straight lines, use a string and follow it. This trick is especially helpful when it comes to painting walls with windows.
  • Turtle Tape (“Green Tape”) works better than painter’s tape (“Blue Tape”). If you want to know why, ask your local home depot worker in the paint department, because I can’t remember.
  • If doing more than one color of stripes, write what color the strip needs to be on the tape in multiple places.
  • For crisper lines, use a scrapper (a hand spatula will work) on the entire tape before painting. If you forget you will probably end up with splotches like this.

    Easily fixed with some of paint from the base color.

 CLEANING– Painting is a messy job. If you’re accident prone it’s important to know the most efficient methods of clean up. It’s also extremely important in maintaining your supplies.

  • Clothing- wear comfortable clothes that can get permanently dirty. Especially if your messy like me. Wear clothes that fit. If your pants won’t stay up, get a belt or change your pants. wear a shirt that stays down. You don’t want to be constantly re-adjusting your clothes.
  • Clean out your brushes whenever you’re taking a break. Just do it. If you don’t you will ruin your brushes. Your brushes are probably your most important tools. Treat them as such.
  • When cleaning paint that gets on the wall where you don’t want it: Paper towels work better than your hands, bandannas work better than paper towels, and wet paper towels work better than bandannas. In fact, wet paper towels will be your best friend. Wet wipes work too, but they tend to leave faint smudges behind.
  • Carpet- Just decide ahead of time to get a new one. It makes the process easier.
  • Cans- use dry paper towel to clean the lip and don’t be afraid to get your hands wet with paint. make sure you get paint out of the crannies. Just use or make a corner with the paper towel.
  • Tape- when done with the tape, don’t stick it in the garbage bag just yet. It will stick the opening close if you do. Just stick it all in a pile. Afraid to get paint on your carpet? Put the pile on towels.
  • Drips- If paint drips, clean right away.

RANDOM TIP: Leave access paint in the paint try. Peel it off when dry and drop on the carpet. It will look like someone spilled paint. Hilarious!

PAINTING– Just some good things to know.

  • Second coats are magical. Don’t worry if your first coat looks terrible. The second coat works wonders.
  • Try not to buy paint brushes that are too big.
  • When painting, turn your brush so the broad side faces the adjacent wall and stroke vertically.
  • If paint drips, clean right away.
  • Use something to push carpet out of the way when painting the moldings. This isn’t just to save the carpet, it keeps carpet fibers out of the paint.
  • Leave plenty of time for paint to dry between coats. Even if you’re just doing stripes. 30 mins was plenty for us. Enough to catch up on an episode of your favorite TV show.
  • If there is water damage,fix it before painting over it.

    The finished product of one wall

OTHER TIPS– Wisdom I can remember that should prove useful

  • Make sure you have plenty of time to paint. It took us a couple solid weeks. We also work and have social duties.
  • It’s more fun with friends.
  • Have a good music mix, but nothing that makes you move too much. You don’t want to fling paint every where.
  • Painting is addicting. Did I mention I love it?
  • As with all things in life, confidence is key. You can do this!
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