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The Best Stenciling Tips for Walls

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Learn my best stenciling tips for walls. 

Stencils are a great way to add patterns to a wall instead of wallpaper. I love using stencils for decor too, like my bone inlay mirror, this mandala stenciled rug, and these stenciled signs

One Room Challenge: Bathroom Makeover

This is part of a series for the One Room Challenge. The end is near and my bathroom is starting to look pretty good if I do say so myself.

After not feeling very accomplished last week, I got the wall stenciling done this week. I’ve stenciled a floor and I’ve even stenciled curtains before, but this was my first time stenciling a wall. Today, I’m sharing some tips that I learned along the way.

stenciling tips | stencil | stenciled walls | how to use stencils


What kind of paint do you use for stenciling walls?

I used latex wall paint for stenciling my walls. Acrylic paint can also be used, but latex usually has better coverage.

Can I make my own stencil?

You can! I have very detailed instructions on how to use a Silhouette to make your own stencils, plus how to make them without a cutting machine. 

Stenciling Tips for Walls

Supplies Needed

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How to Stencil a Wall

  • First, perfection is overrated. If you need perfection, organic shaped stencils will probably make you happier. Or maybe just don’t stencil. The good thing is that the pattern tricks the eye into not seeing the mistakes! I used this coral stencil.
  • Stenciling with an almost dry roller will give you the correct coverage. If the paint is too thick, it seeps under the stencil a bit. I loaded my foam roller, wiped as much off on the paint tray, and then rolled it on a paper towel before finally applying it to the wall. stenciling
  • Large stencils are a bit of a pain. If I were to do this stencil again, I would purchase several of the smaller craft stencils instead. I ended up cutting my stencil apart to fill spaces. It’s a forgiving pattern, so this works well.
  • If you use a large stencil, start at the top of the wall. This stencil came with a “top” piece that you should use first.
I worked my way up from the wainscot, but I think that starting at the top would have been easier.
  • Let the stencil dry thoroughly between each use. This is frustrating, but my impatience led to mistakes.
  • Pattern is hard to get used to! If you don’t have patterned walls anywhere else in your home, it can feel very harsh. Give it a few days before you decide that you hate it. Also, remember that it will be under many other layers of decor. It looked great from far away, but in such a small space, it felt overwhelming. It’s been a few days now and I love it.
  • Paint tape loses it’s stickiness fast. Use new pieces every now and then. For parts near the ceiling or near corners, I balled up some tape to create “double sided” tape so that the stencil could stick to the wall.
  • Keep paper towels or wet wipes nearby to wipe away mistakes.
  • stenciling

    Bathroom Progress

    I also repainted the mirror and hung it back up. The bathroom is fully functioning again!


    Still to do:

    • Pipe shelves built and installed
    • Art
    • Hang shower curtain
    • Light switch plates installed
    • Shop for new towels and accessories
    • Buy and hang bamboo blind
    Look at how pretty my light plates are with the shower curtain!

    See the finished bathroom here!

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    1. I am the worst at stenciling! I have tried so many different stencils, paints, and application tips. I think I’m just one of those people who weren’t made for stenciling. But yours looks great!!

      1. This one was really forgiving. It’s not a perfect grid. There are many areas where I cut apart the stencil and just filled spaces with whatever element fit. I can’t even tell where I did it at. I can’t imagine a super precise one though.

    2. You said the stencil would have have been easier if you started at the top. That makes me wonder if it would fit properly above the shiplap. Do you think it would be easier because you could cut the stencil and fit elements where you liked? Do you think that would be different with a damask or a geometric design? Also, it’s so beautiful! The mirror looks great and the shower curtain and light switches are so whimsical and lovely. You have such a wonderful eye.

      1. I really think cutting it is the only way to make it easy. You’re supposed to be able to bend it and stencil, but mine looked all lumpy and skewed. It’s very possible that I’m not a good stenciller. 😉 I faked it by cutting the stencil apart and doing it willy nilly wherever it fit. I probably should have stenciled and then put up the shiplap.

      1. Thanks Ruthie! I’ve never stenciled furniture, but I’ve done my bathroom floor and curtains before this. I enjoy the process, so I’ll definitely be doing it again!

    3. Beautiful! I love wallpaper but hate the cost. Thanks for showing me this alternative 🙂
      May I ask where you purchased your switch plate covers?

      1. I bought them at Anthropologie a couple of years ago. I’ve been trying to keep my eyes open for more pretty ones, but they’re hard to find.

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