Morgen Henderson
wall stencil paint

Wall stencils are a fantastic way to add style and character to a space by adding art into your place without hanging anything on the wall. You can paint a single design in the corner, a repeating design onto an accent wall or even cover the entire room for a dramatic effect.

But the process of painting with wall stencils can be tedious and getting a great result can be hard. But don't worry, we've got you covered – here are fool-proof steps to help you achieve neat designs on any wall.

Before you start

Make sure you have all of the materials you need. Painting projects often require you to work quickly since the paint will start drying whether you want it to or not.

You'll need:

  • Stencil
  • Paint — make sure you choose colors that fit well in the room and will help you achieve the look you want
  • Painting utensil – what you use can depend on the size of the stencil. For large stencils, a sponge works well. For small or medium designs, a round paintbrush with a flat top or a foam paintbrush works well.
  • Stencil adhesive spray (available at most craft stores)
  • Painter's tape
  • Plate
  • Cotton swabs
  • Pencil

You also need to make sure the wall is clean and dry. Wipe the wall with a damp cloth and let it dry or apply a couple of coats of fresh paint a few days beforehand.

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Step 1: Position and secure the stencil

Figure out exactly where you want to start with your stencil. If it's a repeating design, start in the top center of the wall and work your way outward, then move down just under that row and start again. If it's a solo stencil, just choose where on the wall you want to place it.

Apply a layer of stencil adhesive spray to the back of the stencil and put it on the wall. The stencil adhesive will help grip the wall so the stencil won't slide around while you paint, but it may not hold the weight of the stencil by itself. Use painter's tape along the edges to ensure it won't fall.

Pro tip: Find the registration marks in each corner of the stencil and mark them with a pencil. This will help you keep it in the same spot should it happen to move and produce an evenly-spaced and straight design throughout the wall. You can also use a level to make sure your stencil is straight every time you reposition it.

Step 2: Paint

Pour some paint onto a plate. Dip a foam brush, fine sponge or paintbrush with a flat top into the paint and dab off the excess paint. Then, dab the paint over the stencil, reloading your painting utensil when needed.

Make sure you dab off the excess paint each time you add more paint to your utensil to avoid drips and smears behind the stencil. You should also stick with using a dabbing motion because a sweeping motion may result in paint behind the stencil and lead to messy lines. Don't be afraid to use your hands to hold the stencil more firmly on the wall when painting so you can get crisp, clean stencil lines.

When you're done, carefully lift the stencil off the wall. Using a damp cotton swab, clean up any paint drips or messy lines.

Step 3: Repeat

Repeat the process until you're satisfied with how your wall looks. You don't need to wait for the first stencil to dry so you can move on, you can immediately start on your next stencil. Just be careful to not smear any of the wet paint as you move on!

To keep it clean, wipe off the back of the stencil each time you reposition it so you don't carry any unwanted paint over to the next spot on the wall. Make sure you're securing the stencil with both stencil adhesive spray and painter's tape each time so it doesn't move around.

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About The Author

Morgen Henderson

Morgen Henderson is a writer who grew up in Utah. She lived in the Dominican Republic for a year and a half, where she was involved in humanitarian service. Some of Morgen's work has appeared in State of Digital, The Next Scoop and TechPatio. In her free time, she loves to travel, bake, master DIY projects and improve her Spanish skills.

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