Sunset staffer Joanna Linberg demonstrates her painting tips for flawlessly stenciling a wall


Stenciling is a low-cost, wallpaper-free way to add pattern to your walls, but it does take extra attention to detail to get a flawless design. Wall stencils can vary greatly in detail and difficulty. If you’re a beginner, choose a stencil that’s not very intricate so it’s easier to get right.

You may want to try out your stencil on a large piece of paper before you move to the wall. You can also hang up the paper once it’s dry to see how you like the pattern before fully committing.

Use painter’s tape to hold the stencil to the wall and prevent it from shifting while you work. Start on a section of the wall that lets you stencil on an uninterrupted line of the pattern. If necessary, you want to use a level to ensure that the pattern is straight.

Traditionally stencilling is done with a dry round brush for a mottled look. If you want clean lines and a crisp pattern, use a high-density foam roller to evenly apply the paint. Once you’ve coated your roller in paint, roll it a few times on a paper towel to remove some of the excess. An over-loaded roller can cause paint to seap around the edges of the stencil and lead to fuzzy, messy lines.

Carefully roll the paint over the stencil, starting with light pressure. If you want more coverage, press a little bit harder, but it’s better to be too light and go over it several times than mess up the design with too much paint. When your first sheet is complete, carefully remove the stencil from the wall and line it up perfectly what you’ve already done. You may need to pull out the level again. Tack it down again with the tape and paint it like you did before.

When you’re finished you’ll have a gorgeous wall with a hand-painted look.

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