Stenciling: Versatile, Attractive and Inexpensive Home Décor Stenciling: Versatile, Attractive and Inexpensive Home Décor

With a little practice, anyone can use stencils to improve home décor. Stencils are a traditional home décor element, an inexpensive way to border or pattern a wall or add interest to a unique motif.

An added benefit to stenciling walls and borders is that stenciling is easily replaced when the motif grows old. Stenciled walls can be primed and painted to refresh décor without the hassle of stripping wallpaper and borders. There is really no threat to stenciled wall surfaces, either - another problem that can arise when reclaiming previously wallpapered surfaces.

Stencils are sold in pre-cut forms and patterns. For truly customized walls, blank stencils can be purchased and cut to a desired pattern. Heavy paper or cardboard can be used to make a custom stencil as well, but plastic stencil blanks are the most durable, and can be washed.

To cut your own custom wall stencils, trace any pattern onto the blank stencil. Use a very sharp razor or utility knife to cut out the picture. Remember to leave 'ties' to hold the stencil together and connect the cutout on large stencils. Ties separate outlines, hold the stencil flat and support the stencil. They should be at least one-eighth of an inch wide.

With the stencil prepared, begin stenciling the wall. Painter's tape can be used to hold the stencil on the wall while it is painted. Be sure the stencil sits flat against the wall. Keep one hand on the stencil so paint does not seep underneath.

Any paint that will adhere to the underlying wall surface for the life of the stencil is acceptable. Latex paint is a good general choice for almost any wall stencil project. Do not stencil with a thin paint- it will run below the stencil.

Brushes for stenciling should have firm, sturdy bristles. Flat brushes or round, compact stenciling brushes can be used. For interest, stencils can be filled using rags or sponges.

The most important aspect of stenciling is painting carefully for clean lines, free of smudges and smears. By following a few stencil pointers, this is not a difficult task.

  • Keep the bottom side of the stencil clean at all times. Wipe stencils between placements with a damp cloth, and dry before placing again.
  • Work form the outside of the stencil's edge in toward the center of the design. Never paint outward to avoid catching the edge and forcing paint underneath.
  • When using a blotting technique, use straight up and down motions. Straddle the outline's edge with the brush, sponge, or cloth rather than trying to paint along the side.
  • Most importantly: do not overload the brush or sponge. Stenciling is a 'dry-brush' technique. Use a paint pan, cardboard, or tray padded with paper towels to blot off excess paint before stenciling. Remember that paint can always be added in a second layer to achieve the desired fullness.
  • Different colors are added to stenciled areas by using separate stencils for each color. Let the first color dry thoroughly before applying a second color.

After the stencil is filled, remove the stencil and use a small paintbrush to cover the area where the ties were if necessary to complete the wall picture. To provide a lasting cover over vulnerable wall stencil designs, coat the dry stencil project with shellac.

Stencils are a traditional form of home décor. Stencils can be used for any decorating project from a small border or accent to large wall murals. Stencils provide far more consistency over freehand painting at a skill level all can complete. With stencils, even the least artistically inclined decorator can create beautiful walls and scenery.

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