How to Paint a Wall Mural: The DIY Step by Step Guide
Have you been thinking about painting a wall mural for your children’s room or another room in your house? Hand painted wall murals are growing in popularity. This DIY guide will help walk you through how to paint your own wall mural.
Last year, for the One Room Challenge, I decided to give my kids a made over bedroom, with a subtle pink and blue theme, complete with a mural. While my daughter was only 2 and too young to fully appreciate it, I knew my son would think it was cool. What kid doesn’t love coloring on the walls with mom.
You can see the full room reveal here. But for today, I am going to walk you through everything you need to know to paint a wall mural on your own. If you love a little DIY and are ready for a challenge, get your supplies, overalls and let’s get to painting.
The materials needed to paint a wall mural isn’t limited to paint. Prep and planning will go into the process, so make sure you have all of the tools available before you tackle this project.
I have included links to some of my favorite brands of supplies, like the Grumbacher paints and brushes. Also, it is imperative to use high quality acrylics and gesso to ensure that the paint bonds to the wall well.
Lastly, make sure you purchase WATER BASED sharpie paint pens, not oil based.
- Grumbacher Acrylic paint
- painters or washi tape
- paint palette
- sharpie paint pens- Water Based
How to prep the walls
The next most important thing to having quality supplies is to put in the prep work. You’ll want to do it right the first time to make sure the walls are clean and smooth before painting.
- Clean the walls thoroughly with TSP. Wear gloves and goggles. Make sure no children are around, open a window and make a small mixture in a bucket with warm water. Use a cloth to wipe the walls down with the TSP mixture. Go back over the walls with a clean, damp microfiber cloth to remove any residue.
- Patch any holes. Use DAP or joint compound to full and holes. Be sure to let them dry fully and sand smooth.
- Lastly, give the walls a fresh coat of paint or primer to ensure they are fully prepped, clean and painted.
- Protect the area with drop cloths or tape off with plastic. You’ll want to protect the floors and furniture, so don’t skip this step before you start painting the wall mural.
Prepare your design
Before we can get into the actual painting part or the process, you will need a plan. Search Pinterest for ideas related to your theme. For our children’s wall mural, I searched for row houses, french architecture and Parisian houses.
Study the images to find like elements and take note of those components that you like most. After you have decided on the full theme and look, start by sketching it out onto paper.
- Sketch it on paper. Give your wall mural design plan it a rough draft on a sheet of paper.
- Project it. If you want to project it onto the wall to trace, it’s a great way to add precision to the design.
- Pencil it onto the wall. Get a quality drafting or construction pencil and sketch the mural design onto the wall. Using pencil allows you to erase and make corrections or revisions as needed.
- Plan your color palette for harmony. And before you begin to paint, make sure you have all of your colors chosen and that they work well together.
Sharpie the outline
After you have penciled in the entire mural, take a step back and make any adjustments needed. If it looks great, you can begin with the outline. Using the water-based sharpie paint pens, outline the main objects of the wall mural. Slowly add in more details with a fine sharpie paint pen.
Decide your painting technique
While there are many painting techniques to applying paint to the walls, the subject of your mural may determine whether you paint the walls freehand with a brush, sponge on layers of color or use stencils for a pattern.
- Paint your base color. In this children’s wall mural, I used Benjamin Moore White Dove as the base wall color, giving it a fresh coat before beginning.
- Sponge, stipple, stencil, or freehand
Prepare your paints and color palette
- Mix the acrylic paint with gesso to thin the wall mural paint without making too watery. Gesso will also help it adhere to the walls without running.
- Mix only one color at a time.
- Gesso dries quickly so be ready to work quickly and with one color at a time.
- The drying time is very fast, so you should be able to layer colors relatively quickly in between coats.
- After you have finished the first color, repeat with the next color and layer until all sections are complete.
- Start with the large background part of the wall mural first.
- Add coat 2 of large areas.
- Let each layer dry. It doesn’t have to cure, but should not be wet to the touch.
- After coat 2 of the mural dries, go in for more detailed areas and layer colors.
- Finish by adding darker and lighter colors for more detail.
If you’ve been a long time reader of the blog, you know cleaning up is my least favorite part. But, it’s an important step to keeping your supplies fresh and getting the room back to normal post mural. So here are a few tips to make you r cleanup a breeze.
- Wash brushes with water and dish soap
- Dry brushes sideways
- Clean up drop cloths
- Rinse out paint cans
- Use HANDy paint pail products for quick and easy cleanup
Finally, I will leave you with a few more tips to help your wall mural painting go as smoothly as possible.
- Keep pets and kids out of the room
- Use acrylic paint & gesso to bond
- Step back to see wider angle while planning, sketching, and painting
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