With painter's tape, you can create a classic two-toned wall without any chair rail.

How to Paint Two Colors on a Wall Without a Chair Rail

by Jennifer Blair

Painting a wall with a chair rail presents quite a few design possibilities, but one of the most common options is using two different paint shades for the top and bottom of the wall. However, you don't need chair rail to create a striking two-toned wall. All it takes is a little creativity -- and some extra work -- and you can have an eye-catching wall that features two colors even without the benefit of molding to divide it.

Use Painter’s Tape

You can still create a classic two-toned wall even if your room doesn’t feature chair rail – you just need some painter’s tape. Divide the wall in half just as it would be with traditional chair rail or divide it even higher up -- if your room features high ceilings, you may want to extend the ceiling color down to cover the top third of the wall so the room doesn’t appear as cavernous. Once you’ve decided where you want to separate the colors, measure and mark the spot in several places, then snap a chalk line across the wall so you know exactly where to place the painter’s tape. Then paint a different color on either side of the tape. Typically, the look works best when you use a lighter shade on top and a darker color on the bottom, but experiment with combinations to see which two colors work best for your room.

Get Patterned

Creating patterned walls is another way to combine two colors without a chair rail. Stripes are the easiest pattern to create if you use painter’s tape to mark off the wall. You can create vertical or horizontal stripes, depending on the layout of your room, or vary the thickness of the lines. Wide stripes can give your room a bold look, while thin pinstripes provide a subtle, elegant look. Polka dot walls are also easy to create – just look for round objects around your home that are the right size for your dots, duch as dinner plates, drinking glasses or mugs, and trace them on the wall so you can fill them in with paint. If you prefer a more intricate pattern for your wall, such as a chevron, damask or floral design, purchase wall stencils from your local craft store to make the project easier.

Colorwash It

Colorwashing is an ideal way to use two colors to give your walls a soft, textured look. Start with a base color – the look typically works best if you use a lighter shade as the base color – and apply the paint as you normally would. Once it’s dry, mix your second color with a clear mixing glaze to create the wash and apply it over the base color with a cloth or sponge using a wiping or circular motion. If you want a more textured look, use a brush to apply the glaze in a crisscross motion.

Try a Faux Patina

For a truly striking look, consider using two colors to create a faux patina look for your room. The process re-creates the look of aged metal for a slightly metallic, textured look on your walls. A faux copper patina is a particularly attractive option since copper turns greenish blue as it ages. For the look, start with a turquoise or teal base color. When the walls are dry, use a damp sponge to apply a metallic glaze over the base coat in a random manner to add texture. When the glaze dries, you can apply a second layer for additional texture. For a more realistic look, you may want to ditch the sponge and use a brush or cloth to apply the second layer of glaze so the texture is slightly varied.

About the Author

Based in New York City, Jennifer Blair has been covering all things home and garden since 2001. Her writing has appeared on BobVila.com, World Lifestyle, and House Logic. Blair holds a Bachelor of Arts in Writing Seminars from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

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