Stenciling a wall is a great way to add interest to your space or create a feature wall. There are tons of stencils available and this is definitely a doable DIY, but there are some things you should consider before you stencil. My daughter and I recently stenciled a wall in her bedroom and we learned a lot of lessons in the process.
Before You Stencil
If you are going to stencil a wall, you should think about the result you expect to achieve and all the factors that could effect that result. First of all, does your wall have a texture on it? If so, you might not see perfect stenciling results. Second of all, what type of stencil are you choosing? What are the lines like? Is it a geometric pattern that would require straight lines or is it a floral that could give a little on perfect lines?
How long do you think stenciling will take? Did you consider that you would have to let paint dry on the stencil before moving the stencil to a new location? What are you going to use to paint with? A roller? A brush? All of these things are going to impact your result. Like I said, this is a doable DIY, but you should set your expectations up front and go in to this project with a plan. Just know that no matter what you do, this might not turn out perfectly, but it will still be fun.
Step 1: Hang and Level Your Stencil
After you have put down your drop cloth and chosen your paint and bought your stencil, the first thing you will do is hang your stencil on the wall. If you use a full wall stencil like we did, you will have to hang the stencil. It will be too heavy to stay on the wall with just tape. There were holes on either side of the pattern and we used thumb tacks in those holes to hold it up. We also used painters tape to help it lay flat against the wall. So, you will have to put holes in your wall. That didn’t bother us, but it might bother some. After it’s hung, make sure it is level before you start painting.
Step 2: Use a Bristle Brush
Before I researched stenciling, I was thinking we would just use a paint roller and roll over the stencil a couple of time and we would be done. Luckily I did some Pinterest research before we painted and decided the paint roller wasn’t the way to go. I recommend a bristle brush that you can dab into the wall. We started with sponge brushes and dabbed out paint with those. Next we used some cheap bristle brushes that I was okay with throwing away when the project was complete. These were certainly an improvement.
Step 3: Lightly Paint on Your Stencil
You don’t want to deliver to much paint to the wall or you will have runs behind your stencil. We had runs. Not major ones, but enough to make us reconsider our approach. My thinking was that we had a blue wall and we were painting green paint on top of it. I wanted to make sure the green paint covered the blue. That is partly why we chose green instead of a lighter color. We should have been more light handed with our paint. Use very little paint and dab it on to the stencil much like a dry brush painting technique. This will not be a quick process. In fact, you should take your time on this step.
Step 4: Let the Paint Dry
Yep. You have to let the paint dry before you can move the stencil. If you use less paint, it will dry faster. So, that’s another reason to use small amounts of paint. For us, it was usually 30 to 45 minutes before we felt like we could move the stencil. So, if you have another project to work on, you could switch back and forth between stenciling and something else.
Step 5: Move the Stencil
We started in the middle of our wall and moved the stencil from one side to the other. When you move your stencil, you will have to figure out just how to line it up to complete your pattern. It took a minute to figure this out on our stencil, but we left one of our thumb tacks in the wall and moved it over to the other hole on the stencil. Then we lined up our pattern. This was hard to have it lined up at the top and the bottom. We did our best. This part reminded me a lot of hanging wallpaper.
After a few coats of paint were on our stencil, it was really difficult to see through the stencil and tell if our pattern was lined up exactly, so we ended up scraping the paint off the stencil in certain places.
Step 6: Finish The Pattern On Both Sides
In order to finish out the pattern on both sides of our wall, we had to wrap the stencil around to the other walls. We were only stenciling one wall and we started in the middle. This left space on either end of the wall that was smaller than the stencil. So, we wrapped the stencil to the other wall and forced it into the corner, like so.
Step 7: Cut The Stencil
The final step was to cut the stencil into pieces that I could use to finish the pattern at the top and the bottom of the wall. This also let me paint in a few spots, letting one spot dry and painting another.
Now you are done! Finally! This stenciling project took a full two days for my daughter and I to complete. We only stenciled and did start by painting the wall a solid color. We went with the blue that was already on the wall. So, don’t think this is a quick DIY. Also, you won’t need a gallon of paint. Ha ha. We definitely could have pulled this off with a quart.
As you can see, our work is not perfect. We do have some runs and we had paint on the back of our stencil when we moved it at one point. When we are just standing right in front of the wall, that bothers us. But, we have since put the bed and nightstands in front of the wall and we are so tired after this project that we just don’t care. My advice is do not do this on a wall that you will not have furniture in front of. I originally bought this stencil to use in my laundry room which is the main entry to our house from the garage. I do not think I could walk past imperfect work multiple times a day.
The bedroom wall has a texture on it, as does every wall in my house, and I do think that contributes to the quality of the stenciling job. In addition, there is no way to make the stencil lay completely flat against the wall due to the size of the stencil. Like I said before, I think no matter what, you will see some imperfections. But, it really adds to her room and makes a great feature wall for her bed. She is happy and I am happy I didn’t stencil my laundry room.
Here is our before and after.