Own a boring room? An accent wall can transform your space from ordinary to eye-catching. Whether light and bright, dark and dramatic or, in this case, striped, a wall whose design differs from the others is an easy and effective way to emphasize a particular architectural feature, create a focal point or add interest and personality.
While paint is often my preferred option, it’s not the only one for accent walls. However, you’ll be amazed at what a gallon or two can do and, better yet, it’s light on the wallet. Plus, if you go the DIY route, a second set of helping hands is not needed (unlike with wallpaper).
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 180-grit sandpaper
- Sponge and general household cleaner (my personal fave for painting projects is T.S.P.)
- Angled paint brush to cut in straight lines along edges and corners (trim, ceiling and wall)
- Large roller and paint tray
- Tape measure and carpenter’s level
- Pencil or chalk to mark lines
- Primer paint
- FrogTape delicate surface painter’s tape (1.5 to 2-inches wide)
- Two different paint colours (base coat and coordinating darker colour for stripe pattern)
1. Prep the wall for painting. First, lightly scuff up the wall with 180-grit sandpaper so the paint has something to grab on to. Then, dust the wall with a cloth (microfibre is ideal) and wash. While you can use dish soap and water, I prefer trisodium phosphate, or T.S.P., which is an inexpensive white powder that dissolves in water to produce a mild cleaning solution. In addition to removing dust and dirt, it will rid the wall of any grease.
2. Time to prime. Generally, one to two coats of paint primer will suffice but how many you’ll need depends on the wall material, existing paint colour and type of primer used. Fresh Start by Benjamin Moore is my go-to primer as it’s a premium quality and can be used over both oil and latex paints. Fresh Start also dries to the touch in 1 hour and you can re-coat within 3 hours.
3. Paint your base coat of paint on the wall. I used Benjamin Moore’s Silver Satin (OC-26) for this project. Two coats will be needed. Dry time between coats is 2 hours. For best results, I advise waiting a full day (24 hours) before painting the coordinating darker colour (to create the stripe pattern) on top of the base coat.
4. After the base coat has dried, measure the length of the wall from the ceiling to the floor (or bottom of crown moulding to top of baseboard) for the horizontal stripes. (If painting vertical stripes, measure the width of the wall from edge to edge.) Next, divide the wall measurement by an odd number. This ensures the stripes at the top and bottom of the wall are the same colour, which makes the design more cohesive and ensures each stripe is the same size. Stripes should ideally be between 4-inches and 12-inches wide. A width of less than 4-inches is too narrow and busy; more than 12-inches may be too wide and heavy. That being said, some design rules are meant to be broken. The stripes featured in this project are 13-inches wide.
5. Once you’ve determined the size of each stripe and total number, measure and mark the lines with pencil or chalk for each stripe on the wall. Use a carpenter’s level to ensure the lines are straight. If using a chalk line, opt for blue because red and yellow are permanent.
6. Apply the painter’s tape to every other stripe, placing it just outside the lines. I’ve used a variety of different painter’s tape and recommend FrogTape as it’s the best at preventing paint bleed. Opt for the delicate (yellow tape) over the multi-surface (green tape). Because the delicate tape has a lower adhesion (don’t worry, it won’t peel off on its own), it’s better at protecting freshly painted surfaces (more than 24 hours old).
7. Using a large roller, paint every other stripe with the coordinating darker colour. In this case, I used Benjamin Moore’s Silver Chain (1472). For best coverage, apply the paint over the tape line. This will also seal the edges of the tape to prevent paint bleed and mask any pencil or chalk lines. Let it dry for at least 2 hours and then repeat.
8. There are two schools of thought about when to remove painter’s tape to achieve the crispest lines. The first is to do so when the final coat is still wet. However, some purport this can be messy and is unnecessary. The other option is to remove after the paint has dried. I have tried both and the latter resulted in peeling (so I’m a ‘peel while still wet’ type of gal). Regardless of which method you choose, make sure to pull the tape back on itself and remove at an approximately 45-degree angle away from the painted stripes. Be sure to take your time with this last step.
Tip: Horizontal stripes make a room appear more spacious, while vertical stripes add height to a room by drawing your eye up to the ceiling.