Arches are a good way to give any room an eye-catching focal point, but having an arched door installed or building an arched alcove is time-consuming and potentially expensive. Instead, add a painted arch or two, netting some of the same curvy appeal without breaking the bank. Here are some tips on how to paint one, and how to successfully incorporate the look into your decor.
Tools and materials
For this project, you’ll need a pencil, painter’s tape, a drop cloth, a paint brush and roller, and a tape measure. You will also need a thumbtack, some sturdy string or a scrap of wood long enough to reach to half the width of your arch, and a drill.
Scale and proportion
Placing an arch doesn’t require you to follow any hard and fast rules, and using paint to make one frees you up from structural considerations too. However, keep in mind two things: scale and proportion. If you plan to have one centered arch on a wall, in order for it to look proportional, it take up no more than one third of the width of the wall. If you want it go over the top, it can take up two thirds of the space, but make sure to leave enough of the wall color around the edges so that you can see the shape without it blending into the background. The same rule goes for height: In order for the arch to stand out from the higher parts of the wall near the ceiling, the top of the arch shouldn’t go too close to where the wall and the ceiling meet.
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Place your arch
For an arch centered on a wall, once you’ve determined how wide you want your arch to be, measure from each adjoining wall to make sure you’ve placed it properly. As a guide, you can measure from the corner where the to-be-arched wall meets the adjoining walls, and then make a mark in the center. Then, draw the sides of your arch an equal distance distance from the center mark.
Draw your arch
Once you’ve placed your marks for the sides of your arch, use painter’s tape to mask off the sides. Drawing the top part of an arch is the most difficult, but there are some tricks that can make it easier. Use a pencil and a piece of string, you can draw a curve easily. Make a mark on the wall, centered between and at the top of the two sides you’ve already marked off. Tie a pencil to the string and then measure half the width of the arch on the string and trim it to that length. Use a thumbtack to secure your string to the center point of the arch and draw a half circle, keeping the string taut as you do so.
You can also accomplish this same feat using a scrap of wood. Drill a hole at one end and then measure half the width of the arch and drill another hole. Use a thumbtack to secure the scrap through one hole at the center of your planned arch. Stick your pencil through the second hole and move the wood in a half-circle across the wall, using your makeshift compass to drawn as you go. You can also draw your half circle on a piece of cardboard, cut out the curve, and tape it to the wall to use that as a guide.
Painting your arch
Once your arch is drawn out on the wall, put down your drop cloth and paint your arch. You can either cut in with your brush along the line if you’re good at painting in a straight line, or use painter’s tape to mask off the edge.