How To Paint A Buffalo Plaid Wall

Featured Video Play Icon

Are you looking for a fun idea to bring an accent wall to life? A buffalo print or also known as buffalo plaid is a great way to bring life to a bland space.

Prep work is 90 percent of the job and without it you will be disappointed with the results.  Place a drop cloth at the bottom of the wall.  Start with joint compound and a putty knife and fill in any marks on the wall with a little joint compound to smooth that out because you want the finished product to look smooth and clean.

After patching, sand the entire wall and pay close attention to those patched areas.  Wipe down the entire wall to get the dust off, you don’t want it to get mixed into the paint when it’s applied.

Next, you will want to remove any face plates from light switches or outlet covers. Once that is complete, tape the trim of the wall to avoid getting paint where you don’t want it.

For a Buffalo Print wall you will want to choose 4 different colors.  It’s best to keep these colors in the same family.  A good tip for picking colors is to go right down the line of color cards that are on the same color card.

Start by putting the base color on the wall.  The lightest color makes a great base color and that paint should cover the entire wall you want to paint.  Apply that base color and let it dry completely before moving on to map out the stripes.

With the wall dry, you will lay out the lines.  You can use a traditional level with a pencil or tape measure.  A laser level is the preferred way as it’s easier to identify a clean straight line across the entire wall vs. moving the level and tape measure across the space.

For our buffalo print, you’re making 12-inch squares on this wall, so to start our pattern, you’re marking off the horizontal lines from top to bottom every 12-inches. Using the laser level connect the dots, taping very carefully along that red line from the laser level.  Feel free to overlap that tape, nice straight lines are key to making sure the wall looks great.

Here a couple tips to make sure you don’t create any extra work. Wet a rag and use that to set the seam of the tape on the part where the paint is going to go. That way it seals in there to give you that crisp line.

Take some tape and X out the areas that you’re not going to paint so you don’t end out painting the wrong line. Now that you have the first horizontal lines taped off, you’re ready to paint the next color.  You will want to use the second darkest out of the four colors you’ve chosen.  Then, use your roller to carefully cover the area between the tape. You’re painting every other stripe… leaving a base coat stripe in between.

One thing to keep in mind when you’re applying a darker color, it’s going to take two coats. You really want that depth of color. Allow the first coat to dry before putting the second coat on.

When you peel the tape off after the second coat you want to do that just as the paint film is drying. Pay attention to the surface of the paint.  Tap your fingers on there and if you feel that it’s dry, but not wet, go ahead and peel that tape. If you wait too long, you can get a pull-through and actually cause more work for yourself.   You’re doing a faux finish, it takes a little artist’s eye to really get a perfect finish every time. Put a little artist’s brush in any bleeds through the tape later on and touch it up.  Let this paint dry overnight so it can set before you start on the vertical lines.

You’re going to go ahead and start with that tape like before.  Line up with the laser line, that vertical line and start applying that tape up and down and go laying it out across the wall.  Apply the third darkest color to paint the vertical stripes.  You’re applying this third color of paint to the top then to the bottom of the columns.  Put two coats, letting it dry completely between coats.  When the paint is nearly dry remove the tape.  You are about to add the last color. You need to make sure the entire vertical lines are completely dry before applying the final paint color.

For the final application of your fourth color you’re going to tape squares.  You’re not going to use a level anymore.  You’re going to go ahead and create a square using tape and create a box for your final color.  You will eyeball this square, just line up the tape with the horizontal and vertical line around it.  Make the square ever so slightly bigger than the darker color. You want to expose the lighter color underneath. The reason is you want to get full coverage with your final color and that way you’ll get the effect of a faux finish versus just horizontal lines.  When you’re done, once again peel that tape off while the paint is starting to dry.  Now, apply the last color. A small roller works great to fill in the square.  Add two coats to these squares and when it’s nearly dry, remove the paint.

You’re done!  Enjoy your accent wall and feel free to brag about it too!