How to Paint an Accent Wall: A Step-by-Step Guide for a Stunning Result

Bob Thomas


An accent wall is an excellent way to add a pop of color or create a focal point in any room.

As a qualified painter and decorator, I've seen firsthand how an accent wall can transform a space.

In this guide, I'll share my knowledge and experience to help you paint an accent wall with confidence, even if you're a complete beginner.

Quick Summary

To paint an accent wall, follow these steps: 1) Choose the right wall and color, 2) Prepare the wall, 3) Tape off the edges, 4) Apply primer, 5) Paint the wall using a brush and roller, 6) Apply additional coats if necessary, and 7) Remove the tape and touch up any mistakes. By following these steps and using the right tools and techniques, you'll achieve a professional-looking result.

Choose the Right Wall and Color

When selecting an accent wall, consider the room's layout and the wall's prominence. Typically, the best choice is a wall that naturally draws the eye, such as one with a fireplace, a large window, or interesting architectural features.

As for color, choose one that complements the room's overall color scheme. Don't be afraid to be bold, but make sure the color doesn't clash with the other walls or furnishings.

Additional Tips For Choosing The Right Wall Color:

Consider the room's purpose: Think about the mood or atmosphere you want to create in the room.

For example, if you're painting an accent wall in a bedroom, you may want to choose a calming color like soft blue or lavender.

In a living room or entertainment area, bolder colors like deep red or navy blue can create a more dramatic and lively effect.

Use the color wheel: The color wheel is a helpful tool for identifying complementary and harmonious colors.

Complementary colors are those that are opposite each other on the wheel, while analogous colors are adjacent to one another.

Using the color wheel can help you find a color that will work well with the existing colors in your room.

Take inspiration from existing elements: Look to the room's furniture, artwork, rugs, or accessories for color inspiration.

Choosing a color that is already present in the room can help create a cohesive and balanced look.

Test the color in the room: Paint swatches or samples on the wall you plan to accent, and observe how the color looks in the room under different lighting conditions (natural daylight, evening, and artificial light).

This will give you a better idea of how the color will look on a larger scale and how it will interact with the room's lighting.

Use paint chips or apps: Paint chips from your local hardware or paint store can help you visualize how a color will look on your wall.

Additionally, many paint brands offer smartphone apps or online tools that allow you to virtually "paint" your room and see how different colors will look in your space.

Consider the room's size: Lighter colors can make a small room feel more spacious, while darker colors can make a large room feel cozier and more intimate.

Keep this in mind when choosing a color for your accent wall.

Seek professional advice: If you're still unsure about the right color for your accent wall, consider consulting with an interior designer or color consultant.

They can offer valuable insights and recommendations based on your room's layout, lighting, and overall design.

Prepare the Wall

Before painting, ensure the wall is clean and free of any dirt, dust, or grease.

Fill any holes or cracks with spackling compound and sand the surface smooth using 120-grit sandpaper.

Wipe the wall with a damp cloth to remove any sanding residue and allow it to dry completely.

Tape Off the Edges

Apply painter's tape along the edges of the wall to protect adjacent walls, trim, and molding.

Press the tape firmly to create a tight seal and prevent paint from bleeding through.

Apply Primer

Using a high-quality, water-based primer, apply a thin, even coat to the wall with a brush or roller.

This step is crucial, especially if you're using a dark or bold color, as it helps ensure an even finish and better adhesion of the paint.

Allow the primer to dry completely according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

Paint the Wall

Start by cutting in the edges with a 2-inch angled brush. Dip the brush into the paint, ensuring it's not overloaded, and carefully paint along the taped edges.

Next, use a roller with a 3/8-inch nap to paint the rest of the wall. Begin at the top and work your way down, using a "W" pattern for even coverage.

Remember to keep a wet edge as you work to avoid streaks or lines.

Apply Additional Coats if Necessary

Allow the first coat of paint to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.

If the coverage is not even or the original wall color is still visible, apply additional coats as needed, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next one.

Remove the Tape and Touch Up

After the final coat has dried, carefully remove the painter's tape. If any paint has bled through, use a small brush and touch-up paint to fix any imperfections.

Pro Tip: To achieve a crisp, clean edge when removing the tape, gently score the edge with a utility knife before peeling it away.

Frequently Asked Questions Section FAQs

Q. How much paint will I need for an accent wall?

  A: To determine the amount of paint needed for your accent wall, first measure the wall's height and width in feet. Multiply these numbers to find the square footage of the wall. Generally, one gallon of paint covers approximately 350-400 square feet with one coat. Consider the number of coats you'll apply and any necessary primer when calculating the amount of paint you'll need.

Q. Can I use a paint sprayer to paint an accent wall?

  A: Yes, you can use a paint sprayer to paint an accent wall.

A paint sprayer can save you time and provide a more even coverage than using a brush or roller.

However, it's important to properly mask off surrounding areas to prevent overspray.

Additionally, make sure to familiarize yourself with the sprayer's operation and settings for the best results.

Q. How long does it take for the paint to dry?

  A: The drying time for paint varies depending on factors such as the type of paint, humidity, and temperature.

Most latex paints are dry to the touch within an hour and can be recoated after four hours.

However, it's best to follow the manufacturer's instructions for specific drying times.

Q. How do I achieve a clean edge between the accent wall and adjacent walls?

  A: To achieve a clean edge, use painter's tape to mask off the adjacent walls, ceiling, and baseboards.

Press the tape firmly against the edges to create a tight seal.

Remove the tape while the paint is still slightly wet to avoid peeling any paint off with the tape.

Q. Can I paint an accent wall with a textured finish?

  A: Yes, you can create a textured finish on an accent wall using various techniques, such as sponging, ragging, or applying a decorative plaster.

These techniques can add depth and interest to your accent wall.

However, consider the overall design and style of the room before choosing a textured finish.

Q. What type of paint finish should I use for an accent wall?

  A: The paint finish you choose for your accent wall will depend on your personal preference and the desired effect.

Matte or flat finishes provide a soft, non-reflective look, while satin or eggshell finishes offer a subtle sheen.

Semi-gloss and gloss finishes are more reflective and can create a more dramatic effect.

Consider the room's lighting and overall design when selecting a paint finish.

Q. Can I paint an accent wall if I'm renting?

  A: If you're renting, it's essential to consult with your landlord or property manager before painting an accent wall.

Some rental agreements may have restrictions on painting or require approval for any changes.

If you get permission to paint an accent wall, choose a color that can be easily painted over when you move out.


Painting an accent wall is a simple and effective way to enhance your space.

By following these detailed steps and using the right tools and techniques, you can create a stunning accent wall that adds depth, interest, and personality to any room.

Suggested Products:  

High-quality interior latex paint: Benjamin Moore Regal Select - This premium-quality paint offers excellent coverage, durability, and color retention, ensuring a beautiful and long-lasting accent wall.

Paint primer: Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer - This water-based primer provides excellent adhesion, sealing, and stain-blocking properties, creating the perfect base for your accent wall.

Painter's tape: ScotchBlue Original Multi-Surface Painter's Tape - This reliable painter's tape ensures clean and sharp edges by preventing paint bleed, making it an essential tool for painting an accent wall.

Paint roller and cover: Wooster Brush Sherlock Roller Frame with Purdy White Dove Roller Cover - The Wooster Sherlock Roller Frame and Purdy White Dove Roller Cover offer a professional-quality finish, ensuring smooth and even paint application for your accent wall.

Paintbrush: Purdy XL Glide Angle Sash Paintbrush - This versatile paintbrush features a blend of synthetic filaments, making it suitable for various paint types and offering smooth paint application and cutting-in for your accent wall.

Drop cloths: Trimaco SuperTuff Canvas Drop Cloth - This durable and absorbent canvas drop cloth protects your floors and furniture from paint splatters and spills while you work on your accent wall.

Paint tray and liners: Wooster Brush Deluxe Metal Tray with Wooster Brush Tray Liners - The Wooster Deluxe Metal Tray and matching liners provide a sturdy and convenient solution for loading your paint roller, ensuring a mess-free painting process for your accent wall.

Sandpaper: 3M Pro Grade Precision Sanding Sheets - These high-quality sanding sheets help you smooth any imperfections on your wall surface, providing a flawless foundation for painting your accent wall.

Putty knife: Red Devil 1.5-Inch Flex Putty Knife - This flexible putty knife allows you to easily apply and smooth joint compound or spackle, ensuring a smooth and even surface for your accent wall.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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