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How To Use Wall Stencils For Painting

Last Updated on January 2, 2020

How To Use Wall Stencils For Painting

Image credit: Elliot k, Wikimedia

In this guide, we take a step-by-step approach to explaining how to use wall stencils. For as beautiful as a well-stenciled wall can be, the process of getting it to that point is surprisingly straightforward. Follow it to the letter, and you can revitalize any room in your house in a matter of several hours. We’ll now take a look at this do-it-yourself home décor job.

What You Need

First, let’s go over what you will need to get this job done. Fortunately, the list of required supplies is relatively modest:

  • Stencil
  • Pencil
  • Paint
  • Masking tape
  • Brush

Step 1: Prepare the Surface

Any time you are going to apply even a small amount of paint, it’s a great idea to prepare the surface. First, clean the intended work surface with a soft, damp cloth. Next, check for blemishes or impurities. If there is any damage to the work surface, you will want to repair it with specialized filler or putty.

You may also need to sand the area to smooth out any rough parts.

Once corrections have been made, it may be prudent to wipe the surface down again to remove any dust or debris that accumulated during the corrections.

plain wall

Image credit: quinntheislander, Pixabay

Step 2: Set Up the Stencil

Now that the work area has been prepped, it’s time to set up the stencil. This part of the process is very simple, but it also requires a lot of precision. You can apply the stencil to the wall with simple masking tape.

Once it has been fixed to the surface, you can make sure that it’s set up squarely by using a leveler.

paper stencil

image credit: Creative Commons , Torange

Step 3: Start Painting

Next, it’s time to lay the paint. This part of the process is also pretty simple, but it does require a degree of nuance. You want the bristles of your brush to be wet enough to produce a rich coat of paint, but not so densely saturated that it drips.

To accomplish this, submerge the bristles lightly in the paint, then wipe off the excess on a paper towel. For the purposes of quality control, it’s important that the paint dries quickly. This helps ensure that it does not drip or run down your wall, which would result in a major cleanup that you probably don’t want to deal with.

As you begin the process of actually laying the paint, it’s important that you go over the stencil lightly, making multiple passes with the brush.

Once this has been accomplished, you can unfasten the stencil, and move it over, continuing the design for as long as you’d like it to go.

Generally, it’s best to allow the paint time to dry before you move the stencil, but this is not necessary if you don’t have the time.

stencil painting

Image credit: Richard Revel, Needpix


To get the painting done quicker, you can also use spray paint. Spray paint dries super quickly, and it also requires much less labor than using a brush. The downside is that the risk of making a mess is larger.

If you do decide to go the spray paint route, you may want to lay down tarps or painters tape to mitigate the risk of a large mess. Otherwise, the process is more or less the same.


Though painting with stencils is very simple and straightforward, it is important to take the work seriously. The steps illustrated above will help you get the results you’re looking for without a big mess.