How to Stencil a Wall

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Tools Required
  • Tape measure
  • Stencil brush
  • Straightedge
  • Level
Materials Required
  • Acetate stencil design
  • Acrylic paints
  • Spray adhesive or masking tape
  • Drop cloths
  • Pencil, string
  • Paper towels
  • Small containers

Before You Begin

Follow the instructions below to stencil a wall. Don't want to get involved doing this job yourself? Click Home Advisor, a free referral service that connects homeowners with local contractors.

  • Step 1 : Lay out the design on the walls

    Lay out the design on the walls

    Beginning at a corner of a room, measure down from the ceiling to the point where you want the top or bottom of the stencil to be and pencil a tick mark at this point. Use a level to draw a level guideline around the room.

    Another approach to making a guideline is to mark tick marks at each corner; and then stretch a string between the marks. Adjust the string until it is level. Then make tick marks every couple of feet along the string.

  • Step 2 : Apply the stencil acetate to the wall

    Apply the stencil acetate to the wall

    Align the edge of the acetate with the pencil line and attach it to the wall with spray adhesive or low-tack painter's masking tape. A continuous pattern will wrap corners all the way around the room. Start in the least noticed corner because when the design comes back to that point there will likely be a mismatch. With a non-continuous pattern treat each wall separately, centering the pattern so that the ends fall equidistant from each corner. To center a pattern, mark the center point of the wall and start your first stencil either centered over that mark or with an edge aligned with the mark, whichever will makes the pattern come out best at the corners.

  • Step 3 : Use the registration holes to center the design

    Use the registration holes to center the design

    Pencil a registration mark in one of the pair of precut registration holes and use it as an easy reference point when you move the stencil. If your stencil does not have registration holes, cut a small V-notch about an inch in from each corner on the top or bottom edge of the stencil. Notch all stencils for other colors in the exact same locations.

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