How to Paint Stripes on Furniture? (Two Easy Ways)

how to paint stripes on furniture

If you are looking to change up your home décor, but do not want to spend a great deal of money, painting stripes on your wooden furniture is a good idea.

Adding stripes can help bring out the best in the furniture, providing a new pattern that adds depth and distinction when done correctly.

You can add a border stripe, geometric borders, or paint several stripes to create a new, interesting look for your old wooden furniture.

But the question is how should you exactly start – when it’s about painting stripes on furniture.

Well, there can be many ways to do so.

But from the various different ways, I had tried in the past, I found the two of them to be the easiest. These include…

Method 1 – Freehand Stripes

The most common technique for adding stripes is doing so by hand.

This freehand method requires a good brush, a steady hand, and some patience to get it right.

To freehand paint your furniture, you should do the following.

  • Get a high-quality artist brush with a good point and a straightedge if needed
  • Clean the furniture so that no wax, dirt, or debris remains
  • It helps if you plan out your stripes before applying the paint
  • Put just enough paint on the brush to do the job, do not add too much
  • Once you are ready, hold the brush as you would a pencil and draw in the stripe
  • Use clean motions with your arm for maximum effect
  • If the brush spreads out too much, try turning it as you paint to narrow the stripe

Before you begin, it is best if you practice on cardboard, so you know what you are doing when painting freehand.

If you do not have a steady enough hand for the job, then you can always use tape.

Method 2 – Striping with Painter’s Tape

Using painter’s tape is another good technique that should be used if you want to add wider stripes on the longer edges.

This type of tape has enough stickiness to hold to the furniture, but not enough to leave any residue behind once it is removed.

As with freehand painting, you must clean the surface first, then add the tape to the places you do not want to be painted.

Be sure that the tape adheres fully to the surface, so the paint does not bleed underneath.

  • Put the paint on the artist’s brush and start painting
  • Use smooth, even motions when applying the paint
  • Make sure the stripes have an even amount of paint, do not add too much
  • Let the paint dry, then remove the tape

IMO, “yellow tape” is ideal for painting stripes as it pulls off really quickly without damaging the surface.

The advantage of using painter’s tape is that you can use different colors of paint easier compared to freehand.

Although it may not have the quaint charm of painting freehand, using painter’s tape will result in a cleaner look for the stripes.

Once you have completed the painting and the paint is fully dried, seal it with varnish.

A single coat of polyurethane or varnish over the stripes will ensure that they last for a long time.

Not only does it help in avoiding scratches, watermarks, or other wear and tear, but also it helps in adding a good shine.

Things to Keep in Mind Before Adding Stripes on Furniture

Although adding stripes can make your old furniture look refreshed, you will need to consider a few important things before getting started.

First of all, it’s important to check whether you can actually add the vertical or horizontal stripes on the surface you intend to paint.

Candidates for adding stripes include wooden furniture that consists of chairs, tabletops, and the like.  

If it has a flat surface, then only the stripes can be added.

Do You Need the Primer?

Priming before putting the stripes on your furniture will generally depend on the current finish of your piece.

If it’s unfinished wood it’s good to apply at least a single coat of primer.

While if the piece of furniture already has a factory-applied paint finish, you can proceed with sanding it a bit which will create a rough surface to adhere to the paint.

Keep in mind that you should not sand if you are working with an old piece of furniture (made pre-1978).

This may contain lead paint which may be hazardous if sanded.

What about the Paint and Colors?

When painting straight stripes on your wooden furniture, you will need to use the right type of paint to ensure that it provides the look that you want.  

Semi or high-gloss enamel works best, especially when it is thinned somewhat.

Be sure that the paint you use is compatible with the finish that is on the furniture for the best results.

When it’s about choosing the color palette, you should not pick more than two shades at a time.

Make sure that you choose the hues that look bright, and vibrant.

As a general rule, you should choose a shade that enhances the visual appeal of your room.

If you already have plenty of different colors in the room, just go with black-and-white stripes.

These zebra stripes can complement any furniture style and will look elegant.

How to Prevent Brush Strokes when Painting Stripes – 7 Tips

When it comes to painting stripes on wood furniture, a smooth result is almost always desired.

It is why using a bristle brush can be so frustrating when you want the paint to be as smooth as possible.

This is especially true when you are using chalk paint on furniture items like desktops, coffee tables, tabletops, or dining tables.

What follows are seven tips that you can use to help create a smooth finish when painting with a bristle brush.

1- Good Quality Brush

The better the quality of the brush, the less it will show the brush strokes.

The higher quality brushes have smoother, more flexible bristles which result in a smoother coat of paint.

Cheap brushes tend to have stiff bristles which only makes it more likely that you’ll see the brush strokes when painting stripes.

As a side note, it helps to choose the right brush for the paint that you are using.

For water-based paints, nylon or polyester brushes tend to be the best. For oil-based paints, go with natural fiber brushes.

2- The Longer the Bristles, the Better

Put simply, short bristle brushes show the brush strokes far more often compared to longer bristle brushes.

Do not be fooled by the handle as you are not painting with that part of the brush.

Instead, measure the bristles themselves so they are long enough to cover the brush strokes, but not too long to make the brush unusable in certain situations.

3- Rollers are Your Friend

If you have large, smooth sections to work on, then get a roller to do most of the work.

After all, a roller does not leave brush strokes behind.

Plus, you can find rollers in different textures if you do not want a smooth appearance.

However, for those who want the smoothest paint application possible, look for rollers that advertise themselves as being ultra or super smooth.

Just keep in mind that you need to roll in one direction only when using them.

Otherwise, you run the risk of creating roller marks.

4- Paint Extender

One way to get your paint to look smoother is by adding paint additives or extenders like Floetrol.

This is a product that lets your paint stay wetter for longer periods.

This allows you to get rid of brush strokes faster for a smoother appearance.

This is especially important on hot days when the water inside the paint can evaporate quickly.

By adding Floetrol, you can buy more time to smooth out the paint.

5- Sand When Necessary

When the paint dries and you see some brush strokes, use fine-grit sandpaper of 320 or even 400 and sand the area down a little.

You may find that this works beautifully depending on the surface.

Plus, it only takes a little time to sand down an area to create a smooth finish for your paint.

6- Section Your Work

Instead of trying to paint the entire furniture piece at once, choose a smaller section, and focus on that.

You can then smooth out the paint while it is still wet.

Instead of trying to go back and work on drying paint that only balls up and creates more streaks.

If you notice a mistake after the paint starts to dry, let it dry fully and then paint over it.

Yes, repainting stripes like chevron stripes will take longer this way, but you will get the finer results that you want.

It is better to allocate enough time to go back and fix trouble spots rather than rushing through and making a bigger mess.

7- Select Water-Based Paint

If you want a smooth finish, then avoid chalk or chalkboard paint altogether and stick to water-based paints.

Or if you want a glossy surface it’s good to use oil-based enamel paint.

Water-based, latex paints and enamels are well-noted for their smooth finish.

You’ll want to choose a high-quality brand and read the instructions to ensure that you are mixing and applying the paint properly.

The Bottom Line

No matter whether it’s your contemporary wood furniture in a living room or metal furniture in your lawn or garden, painting stripes with bold solid colors can instantly add a retro look to it.

The good thing is, by following the above tips and ideas, you can do all the finishing and makeovers on your own without the need for a professional painter.

So, why not try them to give that old furniture in your room a facelift.

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