How to Paint a Plaid Pattern

by Dano

Things You'll Need

  • Craft object of choice
  • Bottle of paint for background
  • Two different colors of paint for plaid
  • Flat paper or glass plate
  • Dental floss or fishing line

Many types of crafts including folk art and primitive art involve painting a plaid pattern to decorate pieces. Creating a plaid design involves making lines of different colors in a square pattern. It is usually done with a line brush and can be a very tedious and time consuming task. There is a way to paint plaid that can cut the painting time in half. Once you have mastered this, you will be able to do it on just about any surface such as picture frames and scrapbooks.

Choose the object you wish to create a plaid pattern on. This may be anything from a piece of wood to a picture frame. Make sure the surface is clean. Paint the surface the background color of your choice. Let this dry completely.

Pour a small amount of one color of paint that is being used for the plaid onto a flat paper or glass dish.

Cut a 12 inch length of dental floss or fishing line. Wrap around your index fingers in the same manner as if flossing teeth. Forming a tight line, run the line lightly across the top of the paint in the dish. Try not to create any drips.

Starting on one end of your project, lightly place the paint coated line on the surface. Do not let it sit there. Just quickly place it down and remove and it will create a line. Do this again and again across the entire surface. The distance between each line will depend on the size of plaid that you want to create. When the line is becoming faint, it is time to re-dip it into the paint on the plate. Usually this will happen after doing 2 to 3 lines. Make sure to go in one direction and try to make the lines as straight as possible. Let this completely dry.

Now turn the object and using a different color, repeat the same steps in the opposite direction creating what resembles squares. This is now making the plaid effect. Continue for the whole surface of the object. Let dry completely.


  • If using a paper plate, the paper will absorb some of the paint and dry up faster making it necessary to add paint to the dish more often. This will not happen if using a glass dish. For a deep plaid design, vary the colors using two colors in one direction and two colors in the other direction.


  • For a authentic plaid design, do not put the lines too close together.