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Weekend project: How to create colour banding with paint

In the fifth episode of Changing Rooms with Dulux, Russell and Jordan of 2LG Studios created dramatic bands of colour right around the room to add an extra dimension to the scheme. Want to try the same thing at home? Here’s how…

A split wall effect is a great way to add personality to a room – and it works whether you’re after a traditional or a contemporary look. Dividing a wall at dado or picture rail height can give the illusion of a period feature; but, for a more modern feel, you can divide your walls in unexpected places – creating a horizon line at the base of a wall, for example, or painting bands of colour where the walls meet the ceiling.

Russell and Jordan created a classic feel with their split wall but gave it a modern edge by carrying the colour over the door. This wraparound effect helps to give a cohesive look to a room but, if you plan on doing something similar, make sure to mask the door carefully to keep the lines straight.

It’s always a good idea to use a lighter colour for the top section of a wall to make the room feel more spacious, and to choose colours that will set off your existing furnishings. Separating the two main tones with a band in a darker shade can be very effective and it allows you to add an accent of a bolder colour without overpowering your scheme.

Watch the video to see Steph Howles, one of the Changing Rooms A-team and a Dulux Select Decorator take you through the process or follow the simple step-by-step guide below. 

You’ll need

  • Dust sheets
  • Paint x 3 colours
  • Paint stirrer
  • Paint kettle
  • 2 x large rollers and trays
  • 2 x small glossing rollers and trays (if you’re painting across doors)
  • 2 x 2” synthetic brushes
  • 1 x  1” synthetic brush 
  • Spirit level
  • Tape measure
  • Good quality, low-tack masking tape
  • Drawing pins
  • String
  • Coloured chalk

Get ready

1.    Lay down dust sheets

2.    If you’re taking the colour right round the room, lightly sand any woodwork (doors or mouldings, for example), wipe clean with a cloth and remove any dust.

3.    Decide at what level you want to split your wall and draw a pencil line where the central colour band will go. Make sure it’s straight with a spirit level.   

4.    Take your chosen base colour for the top of the wall (here, Simply Refresh One Coat in Egyptian Cotton). Stir and pour into a roller tray. The bonus of using Simply Refresh One Coat is that you only need… one coat! If you’re carrying the colour over any woodwork, you’ll need to use quick-drying eggshell. 

5.    Mask up skirting boards, window frames and doors (if you’re not carrying the colour over them).

6.    Apply paint to the top section of the wall, down to your marked line, using a brush for the edges. Don’t worry if the bottom line of your paint isn’t exactly straight at this stage as the colour band you apply later will cover the join.

7.    Load your roller with your second base colour (here, Sweet Citrus) and apply to the bottom section of the wall, using a roller and brush, as above.

8.    Leave to dry for 4 hours.

Paint your colour band

1.    Measure the position for the top of the central colour band and mark with a pencil.

2.    Chalk up a length of string and, at the level of your pencil mark, pin it to the wall at both ends. Use a spirit level to make sure it’s straight.

3.    Snap the string against the wall so that it leaves a light chalk guideline for you to follow. Repeat to mark the bottom edge of the central colour band.

4.    Place masking tape above and below the central band, pressing down firmly.

5.    Using your 1” brush, seal the inner edges of the tape using the top colour over the top edge of the tape and the bottom colour over the bottom edge to stop any colour seeping through later. Leave to dry. 

6.    Fill in the central colour band (painting between the lines of masking tape) with your chosen colour (here, Guild Green).

7.    Remove the masking tape while still wet.

8.    Ta-da!

Expert tip: Use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process once you’ve sealed the masking tape. 

Clean up


1.    Remove as much paint as you can from your brushes, rollers and trays.

2.    Give everything a thorough wash in water. There’s no need to use white spirit, as these paints are water based.

3.    Firmly close the paint tins and store in a dry and frost-free environment. 

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