A Guide to Wall Stenciling

Wall Stenciling

Stenciling is a great way to add interest and movement to a space without redoing the entire surface of a wall. Using stencils is a cost effective way to achieve a new look and feel without having to repaint the whole room. It also makes a great accent in corners that otherwise look empty and uninteresting.

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The key to creating an elegant look with stencils is to use colors that blend well with the existing wall color. Subtlety will add warmth and create beauty.

For children's rooms or other areas where you prefer a more whimsical look, vivid colors or those with high contrast are the better choices. However, it depends on the type of space you are decorating and the overall look you want to create.

One of the best tips to keep in mind is that it pays to make a practice board before going to the wall. This is true of most any paint treatment or technique, and stenciling is no exception. Start by painting a piece of scrap material the same color as your wall. When it has dried thoroughly, begin stenciling.

Try these tips:

  1. Figure the length of your wall and the size of your stencil. Make a plan for the corners. It may be necessary to have two or three stencils in case you need to cut one to fit it into a corner or adjust the pattern at the end.
  2. Start your stencil in the least noticeable corner of the room. Plan to end there as well.
  3. Mark lightly the area where you intend to place the stencil to ensure that it is lined up straight.
  4. Use a spray adhesive or a bit of painter's tape to hold the stencil in place.
  5. Apply the paint using stenciling brushes. Dip the brush into the paint and remove some of the excess by blotting.
  6. Dab the paint on instead of using typical brush strokes.
  7. Work from the outside edge of the design toward the center. This will help avoid pushing paint underneath the stencil and disturbing the outline.
  8. Stop after every three or four passes and clean the stencil.
  9. Don't hesitate to mix colors. Sticking to one color will make the design look flat. Mixing colors will make it more dimensional and interesting.
  10. Don't become discouraged if your first attempt doesn't turn out as you expected. Try again. It may take a little practice to get it just right.
  11. Add interest and depth with a two or three part stencil.
  12. Allow the stencil to sit for just a moment and then carefully pull it away. Grasp one corner and gently pull it in a diagonal, downward motion. Wipe any paint from the stencil and move on to the next marked off area, but take care not to touch the freshly painted section when applying the stencil or when painting the next section.

Doityourself’s painting consultant Pam Estabrooke of ProTect Painters, adds “Stencils can be found in very large designs. These make excellent focal points on a wall. They can be a bit expensive, but are a great choice for a mock bed headboard or other large focal piece. These designs will require two people.” You will be delighted with the beautiful looks you can create with stenciling.

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