How to Paint Lattice

Latticework adds an exotic touch to a garden trellis or painted wall.
Whether you're painting solid objects or fantasy lattices, work smart for a clean finish.

Use one of two ways to paint lattice. In one method, you cover a piece of latticework with color -- a messy, time-consuming job. The other way is to create a lattice pattern in paint on a wall. Both take patience and a paintbrush to accomplish.

Raw Wood Lattice

You've scored some inexpensive wood latticework to embellish the side of the porch or to substitute for wainscoting in the sun room. Spray-painting might seem like the easy answer, but that way makes paint go everywhere, with more color all around the crisscrossed wood than on it.

  • Put on your Zen painter's hat and lightly sand any rough places on the wood.
  • Prime it, using a paintbrush, a good dropcloth, and extreme care to even out any paint that collects in the crannies where two pieces of wood intersect.
  • Once the primer is dry, tackle the latticework one more time with a good-covering latex interior paint or protective oil-base exterior latex for lattice that will live outdoors. A paintbrush takes longer than a sprayer, but the cleanup is vastly shorter and easier. 

Lattice Design on Your Wall

Use a shortcut when you paint a latticework pattern directly on the wall -- the shortcut will come as a relief because the taping will kill you. Get a friend to help; it speeds things up and gives you an audience for commiseration when you run out of painter's tape. Once you finish taping, all that's left is a simple rolling-on of the final paint color. Peel off the tape, and the lattice appears like magic.

Paint the wall in the stripe color.

This is the color that will appear as the lines of lattice when you are finished. Cream makes good latticework on an apple-green wall in the kitchen, while lavender creates a restful lattice in a pale blue room.

Tape around any molding or baseboards.

Tape down the wall at the corners and along the edge of the ceiling to avoid getting paint on any areas that aren't part of the new pattern.

Paint the wall the "stripe" or lattice color.

Let the base coat dry completely. If you use a paint with good coverage, you may only need one coat.

Mark the wall for vertical tapes.

Divide the wall evenly -- "evenly" is key because you don't want a half-diamond running up the edge of the wall -- into marked lengths for the diamond size in your lattice pattern. If your wall is 12 feet long, for example, you may decide on 12-inch diamonds. Measure and mark the wall at the baseboard and the ceiling.

Place strips of slanted vertical tape.

Starting at the middle mark, stretch tape from the ceiling mark to the baseboard mark just to the right of the ceiling mark. This creates a slanted series of taped lines across the wall. Position the tape so the middle of the tape width is at the mark for each tape strip.

Start at the middle again and reverse the process.

Tape from center ceiling to the left baseboard mark, just as you did for the first tape strips. Now the center of the wall is covered in a neat diamond pattern, but you have unfinished side areas to tape.

Measure the length of a complete diamond.

In each corner, right and left, mark consecutive diamond lengths all the way down the wall. Use these marks to complete your lattice design.

Start at the first "diamond-length" mark near the ceiling.

Tape from the mark at the wall edge to the nearest unconnected tape at the ceiling. Continue taping slanted strips until the wall is covered in a uniform grid of taped diamond shapes.

Paint the lattice.

Roll the second color of paint on the wall right over the tape. Cover the entire wall and let it set for about an hour.

Remove the tape.

Don't leave tape on until the paint is fully dry, or you could end up with ragged edges on the lattice lines. After an hour, pull the tape off slowly and carefully on the slant to avoid smearing the edges of the diamonds. Touch up any minor problems and let your new latticework wall "cure" for about 24 hours before placing any furniture next to it or hanging artwork.

About the Author

Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .