How to Paint a Stunning Accent Wall

An accent wall can add dramatic flair and a touch of elegance to any room by creating a focal point that demands attention. It’s an inexpensive do-it-yourself project that will heighten the visual interest of your living space. Before you start working, visit your local True Value hardware store for the tools, products and expert advice you need to start right.

Step 1: Select the Wall to Paint

Green accent wall behind living room sofa

Before you choose an accent wall, ask yourself where you want to draw attention. Good focal points are a fireplace, a built-in bookcase, a large window, or behind a bed’s headboard. Another common choice is the wall directly across from the doorway of the room you want to paint. It really can be as simple as noting where your eye goes when you walk into a particular room. Adding an accent color can accentuate a part of the room as well as continue color schemes or painting techniques from an adjacent room, which serves to bring two spaces together.

Step 2: Choose your Color and Sheen

Blue accent wall matching bedroom decor

When you’re selecting a color, it helps to examine what is already in the room. A color that exists in artwork or upholstery fabric could be a nice choice for an accent wall. Selecting a bright or very dark color will add drama, while opting for a neutral color will add a subtle focus without distracting from art and furniture. Take some time to learn about how color schemes work. A monochromatic scheme uses tints and shades of one color. For example, if a room is a neutral color like light brown or light gray, you could make the accent wall a couple of shades darker. An analogous color scheme pairs colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, offering more nuances while keeping the elegance of a monochromatic scheme. Usually, one color is dominant while others play a supporting role. An example would be a room with three green walls and a blue accent wall. A complementary color scheme pits two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel against each other for a dramatic contrast. An example of this would be using a warm color, such as a shade of red with a cool shade of green or blue.

Green accent wall opposite white and black kitchen

Your local True Value hardware store’s Certified Color Experts can answer questions you have about paint color and point you in the right direction, based on your preferences. While you’re there, you can pick up a Custom Mixed Color Sample to try a few colors for your accent wall at home. Just paint a small patch with each color option and then take your time comparing and contrasting before making a final decision. You can also pick up Color Cards that have predetermined palettes ready for you.

After selecting your desired color, next choose the sheen, also known as the finish. It’s usually best if the sheen you choose matches the sheen on adjacent walls. Paint sheen is basically the surface texture the paint creates and a measurement of how much light bounces off the painted surface. Some sheens work better than others on certain surfaces. Finishes include flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and gloss.

Step 3: Calculate Amount of Paint

To determine how much paint you need, multiply the total width of the wall you’re painting by ceiling height to find the square footage to be covered. Subtract 15 square feet for windows and 21 for doors. A gallon of paint generally covers about 350 to 400 square feet (minus windows and doors), so divide your total square footage by 350 or 400 to determine the number of gallons needed. Depending on the size of the accent wall, one gallon of paint may be all you need, but you’ll need a few coats when using deep, dark colors.

Step 4: Prepare Room

Remove furniture from the room or place it in the center of the room, and cover it with drop cloths. Place drop cloths or tarps on the floor and remove fixtures, window coverings, switch plates and outlet covers. Use painter’s tape to protect windowsills, baseboards, door hinges, the ceiling perimeter and anything else that you don’t want to get paint on.

Properly cleaning and repairing surfaces is extremely important when painting since paint doesn’t adhere to dirt or damaged areas. Use a sponge or cloth to wipe down your interior walls with mild detergent and water and allow it to dry. If your accent wall has any cracks, holes or other damage, apply spackling compound with a putty knife. Once it dries, sand with fine-grit sandpaper. For extensive drywall damage or larger drywall repairs, see How to Patch Drywall for repair instructions.

Helpful Tip

If you need to make repairs, add an extra day to your project schedule to give the compound time to dry.

Step 5: Prime and Paint

You don’t have to apply a coat of primer before you paint, but doing so will improve the coverage and help the paint wear better. If your walls are stained or if you’re using a light color over existing dark walls, you should prime them first.

With a brush or roller, apply True Value EasyCare Ultra Premium Interior Primer/Sealer widthwise in 6′ sections, start from the top of the wall down, using a “W” stroke. Once at the bottom, load the roller and start at the top, rolling down to the bottom again, and then repeat, filling in the “W”. This ensures that all of the paint has been “faced” in the same direction, providing more even coverage across the wall. Use an angled brush to paint in corners and other areas where you need smaller strokes and attention to detail.

Apply True Value EasyCare Ultra Premium Interior Paint. If necessary, apply a second coat. You don’t have to let the paint completely dry between coats, but your results will be better the longer you wait.

Small, stylish bedroom with blue-green accent wall

Safety Alert!

Make sure your work area is well ventilated. Use fans to circulate air and open windows where you can.

Step 6: Cleanup

Pick up your drop cloths or tarps and close up your paint cans. Dispose of used paint cans appropriately. Clean your brushes and other tools with warm, soapy water. Thoroughly rinse your roller covers and brushes in water until the water runs clear, then place them in a brush/roller spinner, if you have one, to remove excess liquid. Store in their protective sleeves or hang them on nails or hooks. Pick up drop cloths carefully, making sure you don’t spread around any paint that may have dripped on them. Next, remove painter’s tape at a 45-degree angle to avoid removing any fresh paint. Remember, the longer the tape stays on, the harder it is to remove.

Well done! Step back and admire your new accent wall.

Project Shopping List

Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.