How to Stencil a Wall – Step by Step Tutorial

how to stencil a wall - showing a celestial night sky stenciled on blue

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Looking for a budget friendly way to jazz up a boring wall? Try stenciling! Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to stencil a wall.

While I love peel and stick wallpaper, it can add up in cost and stenciling is a great way to get a patterned look without having to shell out a lot of money. All you need is paint and paint tools!

things you’ll need

  • Wall stencil
  • Paint (I recommend using a matte sheen)
  • Foam roller
  • Paper towels (for cleanups and smudges)
  • Drop cloth or plastic sheeting
  • Stencil adhesive spray, painter’s tape or museum putty
  • Small Painter’s Brush (for touch-ups, as needed)

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Products used for this project

I recommend using a matte paint for stencil projects. These matte paints won’t show imperfections and its nice to see your stencil design without a sheen. But, of course – this is personal choice.

I stenciled my son’s room for this project and he loves space. I found this celestial night sky stencil from cutting edge stencils on Etsy, but they have their own website as well, so you might want to check both.

I color matched Newburyport Blue by Benjamin Moore with Behr Matte Paint. Then, I used Behr Matte paint in the color Platinum for the stencil part.

stenciling tips

  • Start with a Flat Stencil: My stencil arrived rolled up. You might want to flatten it by rolling it in the opposite direction and placing it under some heavy books for a while to remove any curls or creases.
  • Test First! Attach your stencil to the Wall: I first tried to hold my stencil up using painter’s tape. It fell down repeatedly. I switched to using mounting putty in the four corners of the stencil and never looked back – it worked great. I think your best bet is to use stencil adhesive spray on the back of the stencil to help it stick to the wall and prevent paint bleed. If you do this, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the adhesive. Test and make sure whatever method you choose – sticks!
  • Stenciling small spaces and tight corners (do this last!): when you run out of wall space for the full stencil to fit (like the bottom or end of the wall), you’ll have to be creative here. You can choose not to stencil the whole design and only the parts of the design that make it easy for you. For instance, I decided to forgo stenciling all the stars on the bottom part of the wall, even though they would fit. It would have been too difficult and the risk of messing it up was too high for this little bit. You’ll have to bend your stencil to fit these spaces, so ensure you clean up the back well before – which is why I suggest saving these tighter spaces for last.
how to stencil a wall, overlap the design

how to stencil a wall step by step

step 1: Prepare the wall

how to stencil a wall - start with a freshly painted surface

Start with a freshly painted or freshly cleaned wall. Fill in any nail holes prior to stenciling for the most professional results.

step 2: start in the corner

The easiest way to do this is to start in a corner and use the wall as your guide. The stencil I used is meant to overlap (by lining up the moons), and that’s how you will continue the design moving forward.

how to stencil a wall - start in the corner

Apply mounting putty or painter’s tape or stencil adhesive and stick the stencil to the wall. Ensure it stays before painting. I applied mounting putty (or museum or quake putty) in the four corners and pressed it down flat against the wall.

step 3: apply paint

Dip a foam roller into your chosen paint color, and roll off excess paint on the paint tray, a paper towel or cloth. Roll the paint onto the stencil, don’t press too hard on the roller because it may cause paint to bleed under the stencil.

how to stencil a wall, overlap the design

step 4: Remove the stencil

Carefully peel off the stencil while the paint is still wet to avoid smudging. Do not allow your stencil to hang up there as the paint dries – you will end up “painting” your stencil to your wall!

step 5: Repeat the process

If your design requires repeating, reposition the stencil using your guidelines and secure it with painter’s tape. Continue stenciling until the entire wall is covered.

how to stencil a wall, overlap the design

Step 6: Finish and touch up

Allow the stenciled design to dry completely before removing any painter’s tape or touching up any imperfections. If needed, use a small painter’s brush to touch up any areas where the paint may have bled or the lines are not crisp.

Cleaning your Stencil

Clean the stencil immediately after use to prevent paint buildup and so it’s ready for future uses. Use warm soapy water and a paper towel to remove any paint residue.

Final Result!

Here’s how his room is looking now.

how to stencil a wall - showing a celestial night sky stenciled on blue
how to stencil a wall - showing a celestial night sky stenciled on blue
up close look of a night sky stencil painted wall

I love the final result and he does, too. It’s fun and much cheaper and quicker than doing a whole wall of wallpaper.

how to stencil a wall - showing a celestial night sky stenciled on blue

Remember to work patiently and take your time when stenciling a wall to achieve a professional-looking result. Use Pinterest and trending wallpaper designs to help you come up with a design and color choices.

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