Tips for Beginners on Wall Stenciling

When I was coming up with a design scheme for our bathroom renovation a couple years ago, I knew I wanted bright colors and something bold.  However, all my designs included wallpaper and Ryan was not keen.  He was worried the small space would be too busy and hurt his eyes.  There was no convincing him that a small space like a half-bath was the perfect place to try out a bold wallpaper 😦  So I changed the design, and painted the walls a solid color.

Though I love our half-bathroom remodel, I still felt something was missing.  With the solid walls, and sparse decor, it was lacking depth and texture.  I had been eyeballing this Floral Fireworks Wall Stencil for months, and I finally took the plunge and bought it.  I got a small can of paint as well and got to work!  IMG_0032

This was definitely a project where time was more valuable than money.  I only spent around $70 on the stencil, paint and chair rail, but I spent 24+ hours in a week’s time completing this project.  It was frustrating, tiresome, and felt like it took forever…but it’s done and I’m so happy!  All the headache was worth it in my opinion.  It added the depth (and a little drama) to the space I wanted, and Ryan is happy that it’s not too busy.  I also love that it looks like a faded 60s wallpaper, very eclectic!ACS_2435

While it wasn’t my first time stenciling, it was my first stenciling full walls.  And I learned alot!  If you are looking to do the same, below are some tips I learned along the way.

***This isn’t a comprehensive list of instructions on how to stencil walls, just some thoughts on what I learned throughout the process***

ACS_2434A tonal color scheme is great for beginners.  I chose to do the stencil in a lighter shade of aqua on the walls so it wouldn’t be too high contrast, and I wanted it to be a subtle texture.  However, my choice in color helped me in other ways too.  Because the stencil paint was the same color, but a lighter shade, it hid many of my mistakes that a more contrasting (or totally different color) wouldn’t have hid as well.

A tighter, busier pattern also hides mistakes well.  I didn’t think about the busy floral pattern hiding my mistakes when I bought it, but it was certainly a happy accident.  No matter how much you think you are keeping your pattern straight, you will go off course.  Having this busy pattern helped mask when my stencil was off kilter.

IMG_9808Draw a level, straight line on the wall for the start of your stenciling.  I penciled on a level line where the chair rail would begin, and it really helped get my stenciling on, fairly even.

Clean your stencil regularly, and invest in some stencil cleaner.  I thought it would be easy to clean my stencil, like it had been for my fireplace stencil, but it was so different.  There was so much more house paint caked on the floral stencil, and none of my household products were getting the paint off easily.  I ended up taking a hour each time cleaning it, using water and my fingernails to scrape and peel off the paint.  Not. Fun.  A stencil cleaner is specially formulated to clean the stencil, and I’m sure takes way less time.  I tried getting away with not cleaning it as often, and my stenciling did not look as crisp.  I learned the hard way…

Don’t be afraid to bend and twist your stencil into corners, to get the stencil all the way to the wall.  It’s a messy process, and my fingers were caked in paint, but it helped me get my design all the way around the walls.  My painter’s tape only helped so far, before just pressing the stencil into the corners had to take over.

Take breaks on a regular basis.  I quickly discovered this project wasn’t like my usual ones, and I couldn’t bust it out in a few hours, or even a couple days.  My focus quickly waned, and my stenciling suffered as a result.  I found taking small breaks got me refreshed and able to stencil better.

I hope some of these tips help if you do your own wall stenciling project!  I can’t wait to stencil again, just on a smaller scale…I don’t think my patience can take another wall project.  ACS_2436

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