How to Paint Diagonal Stripes

(Image: Lindsey Crafter)

Free-handing perfect diagonal lines is nearly impossible, but you can achieve crisp-edged results with a few simple techniques. Add visual interest to a wall, headboard or coffee table by adding colorful diagonal lines with your favorite acrylic paints!

Things You'll Need

  • Painter's tape 
  • Yardstick 
  • Pencil 
  • Acrylic paint 
  • Paint brushes 
  • Paint roller
  • Stretched canvas, plywood or primed wall

Step 1: Mark Center

Using a yardstick, measure the width of the surface and mark its vertical centerline at both ends. Connect these points by drawing a faint pencil line between them.

(Image: Lindsey Crafter )
(Image: Lindsey Crafter)

Step 2: Measure angle of stripe

Use a straightedge to determine the slope of your stripes. Lightly pencil in your first diagonal line, repeating on the other side if applicable.

(Image: Lindsey Crafter )

Step 3: Measure stripe width

Draw evenly-spaced lines using your straightedge as a guide or mark smaller increments from your original line to create various stripe widths.

(Image: Lindsey Crafter )
(Image: Lindsey Crafter )
(Image: Lindsey Crafter )


  • Vary your stripe width randomly for an artistic approach to the classic chevron print.

(Image: Lindsey Crafter )

Step 4: Tape off sections and paint stripes

Following guidelines, tape off the sections with painter's tape. Then apply several coats of acrylic paint to stripes.

(Image: Lindsey Crafter )


  • Always pull the paintbrush over and away from the edge of the tape -- otherwise paint will be forced under the edge and won't create a clean line.

(Image: Lindsey Crafter )
(Image: Lindsey Crafter)

Step 5: Varnish and mount

Seal your dried artwork with several layers of matte or gloss varnish for an even finish. Mount on a wall as a patterned headboard or add short table legs for a custom chevron coffee table.

(Image: Lindsey Crafter)

To use this same method to create chic striped walls, simply increase your stripe width to suit the scale of the wall or project.

Have questions about this project? Ideas on surfaces to paint stripes on? Share them with us in the comment section below!

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