DIY: Tips for Stenciling Walls

By Carson Price Artist

Before I began painting canvases, I completed my fair share of DIY projects. Though I spend most of my time painting these days, I want to share my past stencil projects and my Tips for Stenciling Walls.

Bathroom with Peony Allover Stencil

In this bathroom, I used Cutting Edge Stencil's, Japanese Peony Allover Stencil.  

I first painted the wall in a light green, then used 5 different colors for the stencil, which was a bit complicated. But I am-still!--thrilled with the result.

Powder Room

In our powder room, I used Cutting Edge Stencil's, Trellis Allover Stencil.

5 Tips for Stenciling Walls

1.  Plan the Design

Decide on a look. Determine what you like (and don't like). Search Pinterest and interior design sites for wallpapered rooms that you are drawn to. Look at the websites of stencil manufactures like Cutting Edge Stencils to see real-life rooms, which will give you a more realistic vision than rooms designed by interior designers and that have been professionally photographed.

Anthropology wallpaper served as my inspiration for this project.

Anthropology wallpaper served as my inspiration for this project.

I fell in love with this Anthropologie wallpaper, and used it as the inspiration for my "Peony Bathroom."

2.  Choose Your Level of Difficulty

For my last couple of stencil projects, I have used stencils from Cutting Edge Stencils because I like their designs and for the fact that the stencils interlock so there is no measuring involved. The simplest way to stencil a wall is to use an interlocking stencil and one color over a painted wall. Doing one "accent" wall is also a simple and popular method; however, I do not, personally, like this look. I have stenciled all the walls in my bathrooms, which provides an enveloping feel.

Half-way through stenciling the Peony Bathroom.

Half-way through stenciling the Peony Bathroom.

The Peony Bathroom was extremely difficult since I used 5 colors on a complicated pattern in a very small space.

Start your stencil project on a large, blank wall where you don't have to work around windows or architectural features.

Start your stencil project on a large, blank wall where you don't have to work around windows or architectural features.

The blue trellis powder room was much simpler since it was one color and in a larger space.

Keep in mind that a wall with nothing on it is the easiest. Each window, door, plumbing, etc. that you have to work around adds a degree of difficulty.
— Carson Price
Corners and areas such as behind a pedestal sink are the most challenging areas to apply the stencil.

Corners and areas such as behind a pedestal sink are the most challenging areas to apply the stencil.

3. GATHER YOUR SUPPLIES

You'll need:

1. Plastic for the floor and painters tape (for the stencil and to tape-down the plastic.)

2. A small foam roller for each color that you will use.

3. Paper plates are a good idea. You can pour the paint onto these for the roller.

4. Baby wipes. I never paint anything without baby wipes. If you are using latex paint, it will quickly wipe off mistakes and dry very quickly.

5. A small flat artist brush for touch-ups at the end.

6.A trash bag (for your baby wipes)

7. Stencil

8. A large, sturdy Cutting Board. If you are stenciling more than one more wall, your stencil will get paint build-up and will need to be washed. I found that the easiest way to wash the stencil--taking care that it does not rip--it to lay it on a cutting board to wash it.

9. Paint. I have used house paint, like Benjamin Moore, and I have also used craft acrylics and both work well.

*10. If you are doing something complicated like my Peony Bathroom, you will first want to decide where your colors will go on the stencil, then make a template on a large piece of poster board. That is, before you begin the project, stencil the pattern on the poster board as you would the wall. Believe me, you will get confused if you are using multiple colors.

Supplies need for the stencil project along with the 5 paint colors used in the Peony Bathroom.

Supplies need for the stencil project along with the 5 paint colors used in the Peony Bathroom.

4.  create a plan for applying the stencil

Have a plan before you start. It is best to start on the wall that has the most uninterrupted space: a wall without windows, doors or other architectural features. If there is none, start on the wall with the fewest architectural features or the most prominent wall. 

I started the peony stencil in the left hand corner of the bathroom room on the largest, blank wall (no windows or architectural features.)  

I started the peony stencil in the left hand corner of the bathroom room on the largest, blank wall (no windows or architectural features.)  

Very quickly I began to get mixed-up when I tried to match the peony pattern on the wall.  If you are stenciling with multiple colors, make a template on an old piece or cardboard or poster board so that you can refer to it during the process.

Since the “Peony Bathroom” was being completely renovated, I was able to work with my contractor to schedule a time for me to stencil the walls before the the plumbing, toilet, vanity and lighting were installed.
— Carson Price

5.  Don't get hung-up in achieving perfection

Plan, gather, plan again...but at the end of the day do not fixate on making it look perfect. Part of the charm of using a stencil is that it is not wallpaper, and it is likely nobody else will have used the stencil in the same color way; that is what makes this wall treatment unique and interesting!

Hand-painting the stencil to meet the molding

After I finished both bathrooms, I did go back and touch-up certain places without the stencil. In the bathroom I hand-painted the blue trellis so that it touched the molding, and in the peony room, I hand painted-areas that I felt didn't look quite right or where the paint was too thin.

Finished Powder Room.

Thank you for reading and good luck on your stencil project!

My best- Carson