How to Paint Plaid Walls

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A plaid wall makes a one-of-kind statement that can go anywhere -- a cheerful accent to a child's room, for example, or a subtle focal point in a dining or living room, or a bright custom effect for a porch. To avoid overwhelming the room, keep the plaid to one focal wall and tie it into the room's decor by painting all of the walls with the plaid's lightest background color.


Principles of Plaid Painting

Start your plaid wall by painting a light color as a base coat. Then paint the horizontal and vertical stripes in a medium color tone. If you want a three-color plaid, paint the darkest color last.


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On places where the horizontal and vertical stripes cross each other, blend the colors. For example, when they intersect, blue horizontal stripes and red vertical stripes produce a purple shade. You can use an actual purple paint for this section, create your own by mixing the red and blue colors, or make a translucent glaze with the red and blue paints.


Glaze Method for Painting a Plaid Wall

Using glaze simplifies plaid painting because it makes the stripe colors semi-transparent. Where the horizontal and vertical stripes cross, the transparent colors automatically form a third color, sparing you the need to tape off and paint blocks at the intersections of the plaid lines.


The simplest way to use this method is to paint a gingham plaid, in which the horizontal and vertical stripes are the same color and width. Where they intersect, you will see a darker shade of the stripe color. However, you can vary the method in several ways:

  • Paint horizontal stripes in one color and vertical stripes in another.
  • Alternate two colors, both horizontally and vertically.
  • Change the width of the stripes; for example, if the wall is very wide compared to its height, make the vertical stripes wider than the horizontal ones.
  • Add narrow stripes in a third, darker color, both horizontally and vertically, to create a windowpane plaid effect.


Planning Your Design

Things You'll Need

  • Carpenter's measuring tape

  • Calculator

  • Graph paper and ruler

  • Colored pencils (optional)

Step 1

Measure the height and width of the wall and convert the results to inches. For example, a wall that is 11 feet 8 inches wide equals 140 inches. Also measure the dimensions and distance from the corners of any windows, doors or other architectural features that interrupt the wall.


Step 2

Draw the wall's dimensions, including windows and architectural features, to scale on graph paper. For example, if your graph paper is gridded at 4 blocks to an inch, let each block represent 3 inches. One inch of this graph paper represents 12 inches of the wall.

Step 3

Divide the wall dimensions by the number of stripes you want for width and length. For example, the 140-inch wall could be divided into 11 vertical stripes, of which five will be painted the contrast color and four left in the base coat color. The stripes will be about 12.75 inches wide. Assuming the wall is 8 feet or 96 inches high, you could have seven horizontal stripes, each 12.75 inches wide, with a narrower stripe about 6.75 inches wide at the bottom of the wall.


Step 4

Draw the horizontal and vertical stripes to scale on your diagram. If desired, use colored pencils in colors similar to your paint choices to shade in the stripes. This provides a preview of the overall appearance of the plaid design and serves as a reference when painting the stripes.

Painting the Plaid

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver

  • Dust cloth

  • Spackle paste

  • Interior paint in light color

  • Paintbrush or roller

  • Long level or laser level and yardstick

  • Painter's tape

  • Dropcloths

  • Ladder

  • Interior paint in contrasting color

  • Glaze medium

  • Mixing bowl and spoon

  • Paint tray and roller

Step 1

Prepare the wall surface by removing outlet covers and wiping down the wall to remove dust. If needed, fill in nail holes and small cracks with spackle. Tape baseboards, moldings, ceiling and the adjacent wall edge with painter's tape. Place dropcloths to protect the floor.


Step 2

Paint the wall with two coats of your lightest color for the base coat, allowing the paint to dry between coats. If the original wall color is significantly darker than the base color, use a primer before painting. Let the final coat dry thoroughly.

Step 3

Measure and mark the horizontal stripes across the wall, following the diagram you drew. Draw the horizontal lines lightly with a pencil, using a long carpenter's level or laser level and yardstick to keep the lines straight.

Step 4

Tape the outside edges of the stripes to be painted. Using a 1-inch paintbrush, paint over the inside edges of the tape lines with the base color to seal the tape and prevent the contrast color from seeping under it.

Step 5

Mix the contrast color with glazing medium in a ratio of 1 part paint to 2 parts glaze, or according to the directions with the glaze product. Pour the mixture into a paint tray and use a paint roller to paint within the tape lines designated for horizontal stripes. While the paint is still wet, carefully peel off the tape. Allow the paint to dry overnight.

Step 6

Measure, mark and tape the vertical stripes in the same fashion. Make the glaze mixture and paint in the vertical stripes. Peel off the tape and allow the paint to dry overnight.


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