Father and son painting pumpkins
Color Maize Waverly Inspirations Matte Chalk Finish Acrylic Paint by Plaid, 8 oz.

Looking for no-carve pumpkin decorating ideas for Halloween? Look no further than this colorful how-to for plaid painted pumpkins. One of the easiest ways to decorate pumpkins is with paint. No carving tools, no mess, no fuss. To paint pumpkins, you basically only need paint, brushes and a little time. Figuring out what to paint is sometimes the challenge. 

Plaid pumpkins are a great solution because even if you only purchase a handful of paint colors, every pumpkin can be unique and all the different plaids will look great together. 

It may seem difficult to paint a plaid pumpkin but with our how-to guide, we’ve made it easy. We’ve taken all that striped and layered complexity and made it simple to recreate our plaid pumpkins or come up with your own colors and patterns. 

Mad for plaid yet? Pick a pumpkin (a real one or faux), grab some paints and get painting (pumpkins, that is)!

Plaid pumpkin supplies

Supplies for painting plaid pumpkins

How to paint plaid pumpkins

Step 1. Wipe pumpkins with a damp cloth or paper towel to clean off any dirt or debris.

Step 2. Design your plaid pattern using a base color (or the natural pumpkin orange) and what stripes you’ll add. (Tips on planning below.)

Step 3. Paint pumpkin with the base color. Let dry.  

Painting a basecoat on a pumpkin


Step 4. Reference your pattern and paint the thickest stripes on top of your base color. We recommend painting the vertical stripes first then the horizontal stripes. Let dry. (For the thicker stripes you can taper the stripes at the top of the pumpkin.)  

Father and son painting purple stripes on a white pumpkin


Step 5. Paint your medium stripe, if the design has them. Let dry. 

Step 6. Paint your thin stripes, if the design has them. Let dry. 

Ta-da! You've made a plaid pumpkin!

Tips for planning & painting plaid pumpkins

Close up of chalk paint and pumpkin

Base color paint/chalk paint. For the base coat we used acrylic chalk paint which has a gritty texture and sticks well to the raw pumpkin. While you don’t have to paint a base color (leaving the pumpkin in its natural color whether that’s orange or not orange), the base coat helps the stripes “pop” a little bit more.

Stripe size. Plan your stripes relative to the size of the pumpkin. Depending on the size of your pumpkin, “thick” could be 1 inch or 3 inches in measurement. Consider this when designing your pattern.  

Painting order of stripes. Paint in order of the thickest stripes to the thinnest stripes. While this isn’t a hard and fast rule, this layering of color method will help your stripes feel organized like a pattern.  

Royal Brush Value Pack, 25-Pack, Assorted

Brush size. Don’t try to use one brush for all of your stripes. We recommend getting a paint brush set and using thick brushes for thick stripes and thin brushes for thin stripes. 

Stripe position. We found it helpful to mark the position of the vertical stripes before starting to paint so that the stripes are evenly distributed around the pumpkin. To do this, look directly down on the top of the pumpkin and  lightly draw a mark with a pencil or pen. Use this as a guide when you paint your vertical stripes.  

Tapering the vertical stripes. For the vertical stripes you can taper the thicker stripes towards the top of the pumpkin.

Can I use painter's tape to make my stripes even? We did not use painter's tape because we liked the look of the hand drawn stripes. If you want the help of painter's tape to control your stripe edges, go for it! Just know you’ll need to add dry time between your vertical and horizontal stripes if you do.  

3 colorful plaid pumpkin design ideas

3 colorful plaid pumpkins for Halloween


1. Teal Treasure: teal, turquoise, yellow & orange

Blue, teal yellow and orange plaid pumpkin
Animated GIF of order that you paint the plaid pattern
Base color: Agave chalk paint. Stripes: yellow (thick), turquoise (medium-thick) & orange (thin)

2. Poppin Pink: light pink, hot pink, orange & red

Pink, orange and red plaid pumpkin
Animated GIF of order that you paint the plaid pattern for the pink pumpkin
Base color: Ballet Slipper chalk paint. Stripes: bright pink (thick), orange (medium) & red (thin)

3. Not-So-Mellow Yellow: maize, orange & blue

Yellow orange and blue plaid striped pumpkin
Animated GIF of order that you paint the plaid pattern for the yellow  pumpkin
Base color: Maize chalk paint. Stripes: orange (medium stripe) & blue (thin stripe)

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