How to Paint Wall Borders

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Two-tone walls can change up the look of your room. You can create sophistication or whimsy, or make the room look cozier or more expansive. The most common border between two colors is a horizontal line. If the line is low on the wall, it provides the classic look of wainscoting; if it's higher, it brings the eye up. Establishing the border between your two paint colors requires some detailed work, but if you follow some tips, you can get a professional-looking finish.

Things You'll Need

  • 4-foot carpenter's level
  • Low-adhesive painter's tape
  • Paint roller
  • Roller pan
  • Paintbrush
  • Mark the line where your two colors of paint will meet. Measure up from the floor or down from the ceiling, depending on the look you want. Make a pencil mark at this measurement, about every three feet across the wall.

  • Hold your 4-foot carpenter's level horizontally against the wall where you made the pencil marks. Check the bubbles in the level to make sure it is sitting perfectly horizontal. Draw a light pencil line along your level. If some of your original pencil marks are higher or lower than the line, it's because your floor or ceiling isn't level.

  • Apply your low-adhesive painter's tape just below the pencil line you drew. Press the tape firmly along the line so no paint will seep underneath.

  • Paint the wall above the line of tape, using a brush in the corners and around the trim, and a roller on the main portion of the wall. As you paint along the taped edge, be sure to get very little paint on the tape. This will prevent the paint from chipping when you remove the tape later.

  • Let the paint dry for 48 hours. Remove the tape by pulling down gently and slowly. Apply a new line of painter's tape on top of your newly painted area. Place the bottom edge of the tape on the bottom edge of your painted area.

  • Paint the bottom portion of the wall with your second color in the same way. Let the paint dry for 48 hours, then carefully remove the tape as you did before.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you want to create a horizontal stripe around your room, decide how high and wide you want it to be. Create two level lines of tape on the wall and paint your stripe between them.

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