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How To Paint with a Wall Stencil and my #1 Tip!

Here's how to paint a feature wall with a stencil - an easy and affordable way to create a big impact in a room - and my number 1 tip to making the stenciling process smooth!

I wanted to give the boys' room a fun accent wall for their green headboards to pop off of and decided to give stenciling a try! It turned out so cute and Indy exclaimed, "Mom, this is the best painting you've ever done," as I was wrapping up. I cracked up! With these few tips and a handful of items, you too can do the best painting you've ever done as well, haha! ;)

Even though I am the biggest peel and stick wallpaper fan, I can say for sure that painting with a stencil is something that I'd do again!

What I used:

These five items are what I used but I only had to buy the $12 stencil for this project.

1. Plastic stencil. This is a great stencil because it's $12.99, comes with 3 different types of trees and is a good size at 6"x12."

3. Painter's tape or masking tape.

5. Two paint colors, a light and dark.

*A possible 6th item - a small level - You could use a small level atop the stencil each time you stick it to the wall if needed but I felt comfortable just eyeing it to see that the stencil pieces were straight. It's whatever you're comfortable with.

The Colors I used -

I knew I wanted an ombre effect, so I chose two paint colors that I already had that were on the same paint strip - Mindful Gray and Gauntlet Gray.

I also knew these colors would work because the gray walls in the boys' room are Repose Gray, also on that same Sherwin Williams paint strip, and would bring a cohesiveness to the room as well.

*I marked up an image taken from

Now, to start painting with a stencil! Hopefully you'll see how fun and easy it is and give it a try!

Tip #1 - Spray your stencil with adhesive spray -

This is the most important tip to using a stencil! It is an extra $10 or so for the project but definitely worth it!

Here's the thing, spraying one side of the stencil with adhesive spray:

1. Creates enough of an adhesion to keep the corners of the stencil flat to the wall each time it's placed against it, where I would have otherwise needed to use multiple pieces of tape (I kept the same 1 piece of painters tape across the top and that was enough). *Remember you're placing and peeling off the stencil on the wall over and over again.

2. Spraying with adhesive spray also creates a thicker layer on the back of the stencil and kept the paint from gunking up so I never had to wipe off the stencil! I used what I had - this 3M spray.

Spraying one side of these stencils is what made this process so easy and smooth because it really kept it's stickiness and saved me so much time overall.

Tip #2 - Roll access paint off the foam roller -

The trick to successful stenciling is not using too much paint so that it bleeds or smudges beyond the design. If you don't have a roller and tray combo, a paper plate is just fine, but the tray was helpful to both hold the paint and roll off the excess. The idea is to roll the excess paint off first before painting the wall. It's crazy how little paint you need each time you roll against the stencil!

You can see below that I'm rolling off the access paint in the top part of the tray:

Tip #3 - Use a 2" foam roller instead of a 4" for best transfer -

I used a four inch roller this time because that's what I had and I made it work, BUT if you are purchasing new, a two inch roller is much better when trying to paint just a part of your stencil design on the wall and working in tighter spots like against another wall or the ceiling. Here is a 2" roller tray combo.

As you can see below, the 4" roller took up the width of the design and it was tricky when I just wanted to paint 1 small tree of a design:

Tip #4 - Creating an ombre effect with your 2 colors of paint -

Start with the lightest color on top. Mix in some of the darker color as you're going down to get the "medium color".

Go back up into the light color area and roll with the medium color where there's blank space.

Then repeat, making the medium color a little darker and painting below the lighter colors, followed by going back up and painting some of this color within the lighter ones.

Save the darkest color for the bottom and make sure to bring some of the medium shades below as well. You can always add black paint if you want your bottom shade to be darker. The final product will look something like this:

Tip #5 - Have fun and don't stress if you make a mistake -

Stencil walls aren't meant to look perfect and mine is definitely far from it, but from far away, it's fine! I've learned to laugh off paint mistakes because after all, it can always be repainted. Keeping a positive attitude and a wet paper rag to wipe off the wall will usually suffice, haha!

I hope this was helpful and let me know if you try it!

You can pin this post and save these tips to refer to if you ever want to give stenciling a try!

I've linked everything I used within the post and below.

*If you do purchase something through one of my links, I make a small commission at no extra cost to you! Thank you!


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