stencil wall | a mini-tutorial

I undertook a big project a couple of weeks ago, stenciling a pattern on one of the walls in the girl room! There are many, many tutorials out there and tips on how to stencil. I’m not going to do a full tutorial, but just share some tips and tricks I learned along the way!

I purchased my stencil from etsy and I was very pleased with their product. If you are doing your first stencil project, I recommend choosing a large pattern and a large stencil to make the process simpler. The more detailed, small, or intricate the pattern, the more difficult the project will be. You can do those patterns, but I recommend practicing some on a blank drop cloth or something first!

I would also recommend choosing a single wall and preferably one without a door or window. Corners and edges are the hardest parts, so keep that in mind!

Choose your colors carefully as the contrast will make your painting easier or harder and change the type of statement you make.

It’s important to carefully level your first stencil and check them occasionally as you go.  Some sites recommend starting in the middle of the wall with the pattern you like, but mine was so simple and repetitive, so I did not find that important. In this old house, the walls are not perfectly level, so I made sure to not base it off the wall but use a level. Be sure to tape off the walls and baseboard on every side.


I found that I needed two coats to cover because my base coat was a satin rather than a flat. I chose to use a stiff foam roller and made sure to roll on a paper towel before applying to the wall. This is referred to as ‘dry rolling.’ I found that my second light coat dried quickly and I was able to immediately move the stencil and start on the next area without waiting. It took me about two hours to get the majority of the wall covered with this large stencil.


Now believe me, you may be tempted to stop here and not finish the edges. My husband and I had a long debate about it, but it really does look unfinished without it done. As you can see in the picture above, the pattern did not go all the way to the ceiling.


After the main areas are done, you are left with the hard part: corners. The more complicated your pattern is, the longer this will take and the more regret you will have for starting this project!! I found that since my pattern was so large, the plastic of the stencil would not bend well over 90 degree corners and it was nearly impossible to get it flat enough on the wall to paint. So I opted to create my own small template by tracing the part of the pattern I needed. Many companies sell a special edge piece for this specific purpose. Some people even cut apart their larger stencils to do this, but I wanted to keep mine for the future.

e09f4314601b11e2ac5122000a9f14f8_7Through trial and error, I ultimately decided that it is best to use cardstock and extend the paper over the existing pattern a ways to protect it.  This worked very well! I was only able to do one coat with the roller on the cardstock, so after it all dried, I went back with a small paintbrush and painted on a second coat.


You will also need to take a small paintbrush and fill in any stencil gap caused by the corners or edges. This was along my bottom edge, and I just continued the stencil to the tape by hand.

d8d9ba6c600a11e2bd3c22000a1faf7b_7One side of the edges completed. You can tell it’s not perfect because of the single pattern nature of the cardstock, but from a distance it is not noticeable!


I wanted to quickly mention bleeding. Depending on the type of texturing on your walls, type of paint, and type of application (roller vs blot brush), you will have some bleeding. Some sites suggest using a spray adhesive on the stencil to reduce that, but they also warn it can take off the base paint.  You can see a couple of levels of bleeding in the picture above. I went back and touched up any large spots like the one in the center of the picture. The other smaller spots are not noticeable unless you get close and are looking for them. Ultimately it’s up to you!

6ee90114601c11e28dc022000a1f8c21_7Completed! (sorry for all the instagram photos! be watching for some pictures of her room with my good camera once it’s complete!)

Have you done a stencil wall? Any tips or suggestions?? Would you do it again? I would! But I would be sure to stick with simple patterns!

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