The Ugly Truth About Wall Stenciling

Wall Stenciling 101

Damask Wall Stencil Tutorial


Scenario:  You want a beautiful design in your home.
A- You spend more money on a more permanent solution, that is fairly quick to install (Wall Paper)
B- You spend less money on a smaller commitment, which will take a significant amount of time to complete (Stencil)

Damask Wall StencilI will be the first to admit, I reallllllllllllllly wanted to do wallpaper.  I looked at several books of sample wallpaper and tons of websites.  But the more I learned, the more I realized how expensive wallpapering can get.  And we had a lot of wall to cover!  It is a known fact that I change my mind often.  The thought of ripping down that wallpaper gave me anxiety.  I would rather paint over it when I am sick of it vs the pain-staking process of un-adhering wallpaper.

So I started googling wall stencils.  I found mine here on for $38.99.  Mine turned out fine in the long run, but I don’t know if I’d use that vendor again (and I will explain why later).

How To Wall Stencil


I prepped our walls with the base color we wanted: Black.  Aaron and I wanted a dramatic look (not for everyone… I understand).  We chose black and white for our pattern.  For a more subtle statement, you could do two colors closer in range (or the same color, flat & high gloss).  I freaked out after I painted the walls black.  I had severe doubts that this would look good in the end, but I knew I needed to follow through before I passed judgement.

How To Wall StencilIn order for the stencil to adhere to the wall I used Krylon Repositional Tack Spray that I bought at the craft store.  It is as simple as spraying a light coat on the back, and aligning the stencil on the wall.  Since we were doing white on black, it took 3 coats, per stencil application.

The hardest part was something I completely did not anticipated: WASHING THE BEASTLY STENCIL.
I had to wash the stencil after EACH APPLICATION because of the paint build up.  When I didn’t wash it (because I thought I could get away with it- WRONG), the paint would bleed, and make the design messy.  The agony!!!

Wall Stencil

Warped Stencil

After I finished the first wall, the stencil was warped.  I was upset because the seller on Amazon states in the description “can be reused hundreds of times,” and I used mine apprx 12 times.  I really was so mad!  I contacted the seller, and sent a picture of my warped stencil, and he said he would send me a new one for free.  The problem was, it took him over 3 weeks to send my stencil, and then it got lost in the mail.  I was so mad sitting around in our unfinished dining room.  We couldn’t do any more on the project (board and batten & crown molding) until I finished the stencil design.  Finally it came, and I was able to finish the other wall.  Although, it started warping again toward the end, but I had to push through it!  There was NO WAY I was going to wait another month for a 2nd replacement!  Because of the warping, it did bleed, but I was able to touch it up easily with a thin paint brush.

Close Up Wall Stencil Problem

Look closely for the messy paint bleeds

Overall, would I do another wall stencil?  Depends on the pattern.  I am soooo tempted to do Moroccan Lattice somewhere in our house.  It IS cheaper than wallpaper, and when I change my mind, all I have to do is paint over it.  No messy tear down.  I would also find a higher quality stencil from a reputable seller.  And, I would hire an assistant to wash it for me each time 🙂

There you have it: Wall Stenciling: an Ugly Truth for such a Beautiful Result.




Total cost: $108.99

-$30 black paint
-$30 white paint
-$38.99 stencil
-$10 spray tack
Total stenciling time: 2 weeks (Not including the month I waited for the replacement)
-one week per wall, at the rate of a couple hours every evening

How to do a Damask Wall StencilComing Next – HOW TO BOARD & BATTEN – an easy peasy wainscoting

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  • so here’s what I don’t understand… and this may be a very stupid question… so you paint your first stencil, then you re-position it to paint your second– isn’t there an overlap where it smudges? especially with spray adhesive? do you have to wait for it to dry?

    • The pictures don’t show the actual stencil very well, but the bottom part of the design and the flower on the right are the registers to make sure it keeps matching up. Since I was painting white on black, it took three coats of white to be solid, and i had to wait for each coat to dry before i took off the template and moved it to the next spot. Hence why it took forever and why I had to wash it so often.

      There weren’t too many smudges from re-positioning the stencil. The smudges came from when it started to warp. Then I just went and touched them up with a fine paint brush.

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  • Meredith

    I am so happy that I found this post! I looked everywhere to see advice on painting white on black walls. I want to so this in a recess in my foyer. I wondered how well the white would cover the black. So, it took three coats and you had to wait for each to dry? Eesh. I don’t know if I’m that patient!

    • kenz

      Yeah it took forever waiting for each coat to dry. But in the end we were very happy with it