How to Paint With Wall Stencils

For an inexpensive alternative to wallpaper — and a creative wall-treatment that adds visual interest and a touch of whimsy check out this simple how-to for applying a paint pattern using wall stencils.

To add pattern and playfulness to a room without the mess, cost and commitment of wallpaper installation, wall stencils are a great option. Beautiful patterns are easily achieved with just a stencil, a foam roller and standard wall paint, making this a perfect beginner's project. Stenciled walls have the impact and longevity of wallpaper but are easily and quickly changed on a whim. Wall stencils can be bought from many different online retailers in a variety of designs ranging from traditional to modern. Choosing paint colors determines the visual impact of the final look. Using colors that are close in shade or more neutral lends itself to a more subtle look while contrasting colors create a bolder design.

Wall-Stencil Paint Technique

Bold Geometric Wall Stencil Paired With Modern Furnishings

To add pattern and playfulness to a room without the mess, cost and commitment of wallpaper installation, wall stencils are a great option. Beautiful patterns are easily achieved with just a stencil, a foam roller and some standard wall paint, making this a perfect beginner project.

Photo by: Jennie Andrews

Jennie Andrews

Tools and Materials:

  • 4-inch foam roller
  • painter’s tape

1. Tape Stencil to Wall

Using painter’s tape, attach your stencil to the wall in the lower left corner. The edges should be placed flush against both the baseboard and the corner. The stencil should have no bubbles or gaps and should lie flat against the wall. Once the stencil is in the correct spot, use long pieces of tape to seal the edges of the stencil completely.

2. Load the Roller

Load wall paint onto a 4-inch foam roller. Be sure the paint evenly coats the roller. Then use a scrap of cardboard or paper to remove most of the paint. Having too much paint on the roller will cause the paint to bleed underneath the stencil and give you a messy result. You will know the roller is ready when it requires a bit of pressure to distribute paint onto the surface.

3. Begin to Paint

Using short strokes with the roller, apply the paint to the stencil. Apply only very light pressure to the roller, just enough to leave a light coat of paint. Applying firm pressure will cause the paint to bleed under the edges of the stencil. Working along the pattern, paint the entire stencil including the guide marks on the right side of the stencil. Because there is very little paint on the roller, the paint should dry very quickly but do allow it to fully dry before continuing. Without reloading the roller, paint a second coat on top of the first.

4. Remove and Reposition the Stencil

Gently peel the stencil from the wall and remove all tape from the stencil. Move directly to the right of the stenciled area. Use the guide marks to carefully align the stencil and tape in place, again sealing all edges with the painter’s tape.

5. Continue Stenciling

Repeat the steps from the first section to apply two coats of paint to this area of the wall. Next, align the stencil with the guide marks on the top edge of the first section and paint. Continue in this manner across the entire wall, working horizontally and vertically two rows at a time.

6. Touch Up

After the wall is completely dry, use a small artist’s paintbrush to retouch any mistakes. Touch up the background color first and then touch up the stenciled color.

7. Check Out That Wow Factor

This super simple project packs a big visual punch. Stencils are available to fit nearly any style, from the most traditional to ultra-funky modern, so you are sure to find one that is right for you and your space.

Wall-Stencil Paint Technique

Geometric Black and White Wall-Stencil with Modern Accents

To add pattern and playfulness to a room without the mess, cost and commitment of wallpaper installation, wall stencils are a great option. Beautiful patterns are easily achieved with just a stencil, a foam roller and some standard wall paint, making this a perfect beginner project.

Photo by: Jennie Andrews

Jennie Andrews

Next Up

How to Limewash Walls

Learn how to create elegantly textured walls using a limewash paint technique for a look that's suited for many interior design styles.

How to Install a Board and Batten Accent Wall

This simple tutorial will teach you how to install traditional board and batten wood paneling, plus tips for installing wallpaper above it.

How to Install a Wood-Slat Feature Wall

Transform an ordinary wall into a distinctive design feature using this simple and inexpensive slat-wall technique that adds depth, warmth and visual interest to an interior space.

How to German Schmear Faux-Brick Walls

Learn how to install faux brick walls then apply a mortar-wash known as a German schmear finish.

How to Install Decorative Arches on a Wall

Bring style and elegance to a bland space by creating accent wall arches that add dimension, visual interest and a classic touch.

How To Install Picture Frame Molding

As a wall treatment, picture-frame molding is a simple way to give an elegant, classic look to an ordinary space — as well an ideal way to highlight framed art.

How to Create Faux Grass Cloth Walls

Create the timeless look of a grass cloth wall treatment using this simple paint-and-brush technique to simulate the real thing — at a fraction of the cost.

How to Paint a DIY Mountain Wall Mural

HGTV shows you how to create a custom mountainscape painting. It is easy; no advanced artistic skills are required. It’s also inexpensive, and you can make it any size and color palette you want.

How to Find Studs in a Wall Without Using a Stud Finder

Finding wall studs without a stud finder doesn't have to be a guessing game. If you're hanging something heavy on the wall, follow these best practices and pinpoint a stud with ease.

Top 10 Ways to Paint Like a Pro

For a professional-looking paint job, do what the experts do.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.