Wall stencils are a great way to add flair to any painting project. Stencils also look great and add personality to otherwise monotone walls.
You can use a wall stencil to decorate or personalize a room. For example, create a stylish accent wall by using a wall stencil instead of messy and complicated wallpaper. You can also create your own faux backsplash or faux brick wall. The possibilities are endless!
It can be hard to find a pre-made wall stencil you love, especially at an affordable price. A great solution is to make wall stencils yourself. It’s easy and fun and you can get the exact wall stencil you want.
Did you know that doing something creative like painting can even lead to greater happiness? Researchers have found that creative, hands-on projects can make you feel less anxious, boost your self-esteem, give a sense of accomplishment, and reduce stress.
On top of all that, you get a great, personalized result that is all your own. Ready to make your own wall stencils at home? Here’s how:
How to Make Wall Stencils In 10 Easy Steps
- Select a stencil pattern.
- Pick out your paint color.
- Measure your space.
- Prep the wall, it’s your “canvas”.
- Shop for supplies.
- Make your stencil.
- Practice makes perfect.
- Stick your stencil to the wall.
- Paint your heart out!
1. Select a stencil pattern
The first thing to do when you make wall stencils is to pick a pattern. You may have something in mind already, and if you’re super artistic, you can draw the pattern yourself.
For those of us who are less gifted, search the web for a pattern you like. You can search for free stencil patterns and print these out. Pinterest is a great way to get inspiration if you’re having trouble finding a wall stencil pattern you love.
If you’ve never painted with stencils before, pick a simpler pattern rather than one with tiny and complicated lace-like details.
2. Pick a paint color
There are no hard and fast rules as to what color your stenciled image should be.
You can choose a stark contrast, such as black on a white wall, or go for a vibrant accent color or a soothing jewel tone. Or choose a gorgeous gold or bronze paint for something unique.
If you like, you can even keep it simple with a color that only slightly contrasts with the wall’s color. Just test it out and see how the color looks when dried to make sure it will show up.
You can also pick more than one color! If you’re stumped and the number of options is overwhelming, check out HGTV’s Color Trend Predictions for inspiration.
Your wall stencil color can be as bold or subdued as you like; go with what feels right for your decor.
3. Measure your space
Whatever space you’re painting, it’s important to measure it before you start painting your stencil pattern.
The key thing when you make wall stencils is to ensure the pattern you’ve selected fits the space you have in mind.
If you’re going to repeat the pattern, measure it and figure out how many times it will fit across the wall. You may want to alter the size and/or design of your stencil to make the project a little easier.
4. Prep the wall, it’s your “canvas”
If you’re putting time and effort into making wall stencils, you want the results to last.
Paint won’t stick to moisture, dust, or other grime that can build up on walls, so make sure your “canvas” is properly prepared and clean. Repair any nail and screw holes or other imperfections on your wall.
You may even want to paint a new base color before using your stencil. If you do, allow ample drying time before applying your wall stencil pattern.
Remove any artwork, light switch covers, or anything else that you don’t want to be painted.
5. Shop for supplies
To make wall stencils you will need the following supplies:
- Stencil sheets. These are usually clear sheets of plastic, and they should be thick enough to hold their shape and not flop over. It doesn’t hurt to get extras in case you mess up.
- A marker to trace your pattern. A more complicated pattern calls for a fine-tipped marker.
- Measuring tape.
- Cutting mat (unless you have a good dry, flat work surface you’re willing to risk getting nicked when you cut out your wall stencil).
- Adhesive spray (optional but it helps hold your stencil seal to the wall temporarily).
- Masking tape that’s strong enough to hold your stencil in place but come off cleanly.
- Painter’s tape.
- Brush or interior paint sprayer.
- Drop cloth.
- Other paint supplies you’ll need depending on your project, such as paint trays or spill guards.
6. Make your stencil
Once you’ve gathered your supplies, it’s time to make wall stencils!
Place your chosen pattern or design under the stencil sheet and trace the pattern carefully. A ruler will come in handy if your stencil has a lot of straight lines.
Cut out the design with your Exacto knife. Remember, anything you cut out will be painted on the wall.
If your design calls for it or you’re painting a large space, make several stencil sheets and tape these together. This will help your project go faster and keep your measurements precise.
7. Practice makes perfect
Once you make wall stencils you’re happy with, it’s time to try them out.
Make sure you’re comfortable placing and removing the stencil and that the finished product looks as it should.
Before starting on the wall, practice painting the stencil on a piece of cardboard or scrap paper. You should also test how well the stencil sticks to the wall.
A little bit of spray adhesive can make your wall stencil just tacky enough to help it temporarily grip the wall and keep the edges of your design crisp.
Once your stencil, paint color, and tackiness are all sorted, you can finally start painting the wall with your homemade stencil.
8. Stick your stencil to the wall
Mount your stencil to the wall, tacky side down. Check that it’s level and then tape the edges down securely. Make sure all parts of the stencil sit flat against the wall.
Spray adhesive is really important if you have a complicated or intricate design. Your stencil will look best if it’s crisp and consistent, so make sure you don’t have any pesky curling edges.
Of course, give the spray adhesive time to dry slightly and become tacky, you’re not trying to stick this to your wall forever, that would defeat the whole point!
9. Paint your heart out!
Paint sprayers are an awesome match with wall stencils. You can also use a roller, sponge brush, or other brush, just make sure you cover the areas you don’t want to be painted.
Also, don’t use too much paint, you don’t want any drips messing up your fabulous design.
It really depends on what type of painting tool you are using as far as specific paint techniques. Practice using your tool beforehand for the best results.
After you’ve completed painting the stencil, carefully remove it. Admire your work and then move on to the next spot.
If you’re stenciling a repeating pattern, check for any paint on the back of the stencil and wipe it off. Place the stencil in the new position and secure it to the wall. Repeat this step until the project is complete.
Give your work plenty of time to dry before rehanging art, moving furniture back, and so on.
- Accent wall in a bedroom or living room.
- Backsplash in the kitchen.
- Add a fun border pattern to a kids room or nursery.
- Refresh an otherwise dull laundry room.
- Garden shed or garage.
And here are a few extra ideas:
- Try painting with a pattern of alternating, fading, or even ombre colors.
- Create a night sky on the ceiling of a kids room with glow in the dark paint.
- Paint a creative photo tree with magnetic paint.
- Stencil a calendar with chalkboard paint.
- Make wall stencils to paint a faux brick or faux wood pattern.
- Make alphabet letter stencils to add a name to a nursery or an inspirational quote to the wall.
- Use a wall stencil to paint furniture, lampshades, doors, or stencil frames around posters.
A make your own stencil project is really about what pattern and colors make you happy. Enjoy the process and avoid mistakes and a shoddy finish by taking your time.
If it’s your first time stenciling, set yourself up for success and keep it simple.
Learning how to make wall stencils is a great way to save some money on your design budget, and it’s fun and rewarding, too.
Looking for further help with your DIY decor?
Check out other posts by our painting experts such as our guide to the different types of paint used in sprayers and common painting mistakes and how to avoid them.
Our infographics also come in handy.
Make your own wall stencil FAQs
Q: How do you stencil a wall without bleeding?
The very best way to avoid bleeding is to make sure your stencil is fully stuck down to the wall — but it should also be easy to remove without damaging the wall’s surface. That’s why we recommend adhesive spray.
Spray the back of your stencil and make sure you cover it all. Then wait for the adhesive to become tacky. Stick the stencil to your wall and run the side of your fist over it a few times to ensure it’s flat and even on the wall. Masking or painter’s tape can also help you secure the exterior edges of your stencil.
Q: What material is used for reusable stencils?
For wall stencils, a thicker, durable plastic sheet is ideal. Plastic can offer your design sharp edges, plus it’s easy to wipe excess paint off a plastic stencil and keep the wall’s pattern clean and tidy.
Q: What kind of paint do you use to stencil a wall?
We recommend using high-quality interior latex or acrylic paint with your homemade wall stencil. Remember not to thin the paint too much as thin paint might cause bleeding and pattern edges that are not crisp and clean.