Using stencils to paint walls is an affordable and easy way to add customization to your home or business. Wallpaper can be expensive and challenging to use, and can’t be reused. Our stencils are made with durable mylar plastic, allowing you to use and reuse them as many times as you like. An entire wall can be covered with just one pattern stencil! Don’t bother fussing with wallpaper or wall decals, instead find your perfect design in Stencil Stop’s Wall and Pattern Stencils Collection.
4”-6” paint roller with a nap lower that ¼”
Or a foam roller
Painter’s tape (1” or wider)
(Optional) hair dryer or fan
(Optional) small paintbrush for touchups
Paint Roller Tips
Paint rollers are the fastest and cleanest way to paint stencils onto walls. While you can use sponges, brushes, and other tools, we recommend a paint roller for large areas to save time. To get the best results from a paint roller, follow these tips about choosing a paint roller.
Use a 4”-6” roller for the best results. A smaller roller allows for more control over the amount of paint being used and where.
We recommend using a roller with low “nap,” which refers to the height of the fluff on the roller. Any nap size ¼” or smaller is ideal, or a foam roller. The higher the nap on the roller, the more likely it is that paint bleed will occur. A lower nap stores less paint in the fibers and allows for a more even coating of paint.
Alternatively, foam rollers work for stencils as well. Foam rollers are much more dense than microfiber (fuzzy) rollers. The resulting paint is less textured than with a microfiber roller.
Use a paint tray that has ridges. This allows for excess paint to be squeezed out of the roller. We recommend using one that is meant for rollers larger than 6”, so the ends of the roller can also be squeezed out easily.
How to paint stencils on walls
1. Tape around the edges of the stencil
Place the stencil on a flat surface, like a large table or floor space. Using painter’s tape, place a strip of tape parallel along each outer edge of the stencil. Make sure that the tape is halfway off of the edge of the stencil, but do not cover any registration marks. Do not bend the stencil when placing the tape, as this could keep the stencil from becoming flush with the wall.
2. Place the stencil on the wall
Generally, we recommend starting with the first stencil anywhere that is off of the edge of the wall. If a stencil has a geometric pattern, such as a checkerboard stencil, use a level to assure that the pattern will be level. Use a strip of painter’s tape to affix the stencil to the level, and align it on the wall.
Smooth down the tape of the edge of the stencil and remove the level to begin. Stand 5’-10’ away from the wall to observe the placement of the stencil.
3. Trace registration marks onto the wall
Mural stencils with multiple layers will have small marks that allow for easy placement. Using an erasable pencil, lightly trace the “+” sign in each of the four corners of the stencil. Place painter’s tape over the “+” holes in the stencil to avoid painting it.
Repeatable stencils do not have registration marks, but do have overlapping elements to make alignment easier.
4. Pour paint into the paint tray and roll out excess paint
Before painting, lay out a drop cloth at the base of the wall.
Pour small amount of paint into the tray at a time to avoid waste. The less paint used, the less likely paint bleed will be. Paint bleed is when the paint seeps outside of the stencil design, and is almost always the result of too much paint being used. Thoroughly roll out excess paint onto the paint tray. Make sure that the ends of the roller have also been squeezed out as well.
This image shows the pooling of paint at the end of a roller. Make sure that this is rolled out onto the paint tray before starting.
5. Paint over the stencil with a paint roller
Press firmly with the roller onto the stencil for the cleanest edges. Less paint is being used than when normally painting a wall, so rolling on the paint may require a little elbow grease for the best results. Do not lift up the stencil when painting, as this could potentially shift it.
Roll the roller up and down, side to side, and diagonally to avoid streaks in the paint.
6. Peel off the stencil
Once the paint has had a few minutes to sit, gently peel up one of the top corners of tape. Stand on the opposite side of the stencil from the corner the tape is peeled. To remove, pull the stencil outward from the wall and towards yourself.
7. Allow paint to dry fully
Before starting another stencil (if you have one), it is important to let the paint dry FULLY. If a stencil is placed atop wet paint, it will peel up the paint underneath.
Use a hairdryer or fan to help speed up the drying process. Wave a hairdryer over the entire design or set up a fan in front of it. The thinner the paint, the faster it will dry.
If using a pattern stencil, dry the back of the stencil as well if there is any paint on it.
The next options are for stencils that are repeatable patterns or multiple layers.
8. Tape the edges of the second stencil
If using a single-layer pattern stencil, skip this step.
For layered mural stencils, there will be multiple layers for one stencil design. The second layer will also need to be taped like the first layer. Repeat Step 1with the new layer.
9. Match up registration marks or repeating elements
For multi-layer mural stencils: Place the cut out registration marks on the second stencil on the marks that were drawn on the wall in Step 3. Smooth out the tape to affix the stencil to the wall.
For pattern stencils: Match up the repeating elements in the design. Learn more about the process of repeating wall stencils in our article about How to Align Repeating Stencils. Smooth out the tape to affix the stencil to the wall.
10. Paint second application of the stencil
Paint over the second layer or application of the stencil in the same manner as the first. Remove the stencil by pulling it outwards from the wall and towards you.
11. Dry the paint fully
Using a hairdryer or fan, make sure that the paint fully dries to the touch.
These steps can be repeated as many times as necessary to cover a wall or complete a mural design.
After the final stencil is removed, the registration marks can be erased.
Once finished, the tape can be removed from the stencils. If you wish to use the stencils again, learn all about how to clean and store them.
13. (Optional) Touch Ups
There’s nothing to be embarrassed about–we all make mistakes! If there is paint bleed, paint drops, misplaced smudges, etc., use a small paintbrush and respective paint colors to fix any wonky edges or rogue splotches. Having some of the original wall color is handy, too, if there are any mistakes outside of the stencil design.
Shop our Wall and Pattern Stencils Collection to find more stencils made for the home. If you would like to make your own layered stencil murals, check out our Custom Layered Stencils. We also offer Large Custom Stencils for ambitious projects.