How to Paint a Plaid Design

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Plaid designs are both classic and contemporary, ranging from complex tartans to simple buffalo plaids. Surprisingly, they are much simpler to paint that it would seem, especially if you use painters’ tape to make clean lines or use specialty finishing tools.

Tape It and Make It

With painters’ tape to mask the areas you don’t want to paint in a particular color, you can easily simulate the look of woven plaids on wood or fabric. Just make sure that the layers of your painting are ordered consistently. Add textile medium to the acrylics or use specialty fabric paints to apply the plaid to textiles.

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Acrylic sealer
  • Graph paper
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Painters' masking tape
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brush

Step 1

Sand and seal the surface you will paint.

Step 2

While the sealer dries thoroughly, sketch your plaid design on the graph paper, deciding which stripes will go in which layer. You can also use online design software to create your pattern.

Step 3

Paint the base coat onto your piece, using the predominant color in your design. Allow it to dry and apply a second coat, as needed. Let the paint dry completely to avoid pulling it off with the tape.

Step 4

Use a ruler or carpenter’s square to draw the lines for the bottom layer of your pattern. Place tape along the lines and press it down firmly. To avoid confusion, put a small piece of tape in the center of the sections you do not want to paint.

Tip

  • Painting a thin layer of sealer onto the tape edge and stripe section will help to seal the tape to the surface so that the paint color doesn’t seep underneath.

Step 5

Paint between the tape lines to add the stripes. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly and apply a second coat, if necessary. Let it dry completely.

Step 6

Remove the tape and draw the lines for the next layer of stripes. Repeat the steps until all layers are complete.

Step 7

When the paint is dry, apply a layer of sealer to protect your work.

Comb and Rock That Plaid

Using a painting comb and wood grain rocker tool make painting plaids on wood even faster and easier.

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Acrylic sealer
  • Water-based glaze medium
  • Acrylic paints
  • Wide foam brush or paint roller with 1/4-inch nap
  • Stripe comb
  • Wood grain rocker
  • Paper towels

Step 1

Sand and seal the wood surface. Allow the sealer to dry.

Step 2

Paint the base coat and allow it to dry, adding a second or third coat as needed.

Step 3

Mix the glaze medium and paint according to the manufacturer’s recommended ratio.

Step 4

With the foam brush or roller, apply a thin layer of the mixed glaze.

Step 5

Working quickly, pull the stripe comb across the surface to make vertical stripes. Wipe the comb between passes to remove any excess glaze. Allow the glaze to dry completely.

Step 6

Apply a second coat of the glaze and rock the wood-grain tool across the surface to make the horizontal stripes. Allow the glaze to dry thoroughly.

Step 7

Brush a layer of sealer over the surface to protect it.

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