How to DIY with Wall Stencils the Right Way

tutorial on how to DIY wallpaper using a wall stencil and paint

Notice the title? How to DIY with Wall Stencils the RIGHT WAY. Let me save you the grief and frustration I gifted myself! This project was a “Quick Start” fail the first round and I 100% take responsibility! There are so many great tutorials on how to do this properly but I was too excited and literally jumped the gun on this project. Skipping some vital information caused me some extra work and a pivot in my plans.

I fell in love with wall stencils over year ago because of my want of wallpaper. Every bedroom in this house was covered in vintage wall paper and it was beautiful! It was also peeling off the walls and looked terrible. We spent weeks scrapping the paper off the wall and then resorted to some different wall paper removers. Layer after layer I fell in love with the pretty florals in soft vintage colours that are back in vogue. There was no doubt I would return some of those floral walls to my house!

Wallpaper companies were plentiful online however the prices were out of my current budget. I have also learned that I have excellent taste because every time I would find something gorgeous and perfect for a room, the price tag would be well over $1000+.

When I would find wall paper in my price range, the problem would be the colour or pattern. Unable to find what I wanted, I assumed the floral walls were not to be.

Stencils For Painting

It was on Instagram that I saw several different bloggers using stencils for floors. Gorgeous China dish patterns in bathrooms and kitchens. Intrigued, I delved further and found Cutting Edge Stencils. Then I fell down the rabbit hole. So many designs, and patterns and options! Researching the cost options it made much more sense to use a stencil for painting, instead of purchasing wallpaper. The hard part (so I thought) was choosing which one I wanted!

The website makes it a bit easier to choose. You are able to make an account and save your favorites on a Wishlist. Viewing my Wishlist, I was able to view all of my favorites in one place, compare and then choose what I felt would be the best. Another great feature is the fact the ship to Canada!

Cutting Edge Wall Stencils wishlist

Large Wall Stencil

When the box arrived I ripped into it excitedly and was pretty impressed with how it was a large wall stencil! Much bigger than I had anticipated (if I had read the description of the size I would have known this but again I was not paying attention when I should have been. The box also included a kit (with more detailed instructions that I didn’t read, are you seeing a pattern?) that had a nifty little level and sponge roller. Skimming over the instructions I couldn’t wait to get started!

The plan was to paint the hallways a light cream and the pattern a dark like green. When all of the painting was complete, a wall gallery was going up. Being a professional photographer I have hundreds of pictures of my children and my upstairs long hallway was bare and the perfect spot to highlight their life. My goal was to hang all the pictures in a large galery of pictures frames and canvases.

Then the first disaster struck (maybe a sign?).

When a Home Reno Goes VERY Wrong

The summer of 2019 will be remembered as a summer of a new puppy and when it rained inside. Yes folks, we were working on the roof. It was already leaking in one spot and we had the confidence that we could do the north side in a few days…a week later and many repairs later (the leak was MUCH larger than we thought it would be). Rain was forecasted for one night and the roof was not complete in one small area so it was carefully tarped and protected. So we thought.

We were prepared for the rain but not the wind. The wind lifted and tore that tarp off the roof and the rain came pouring down. Snug in our beds we were sleeping away and I awoke to the funny noise. It sounded like splashing and like the rain was really heavy outside. The puppy was whimpering down stairs, so I got up to put her out (always so fun at 3am). As soon as I stepped outside I knew what the funny noise maker was because it was raining. Inside the house.

Yelling for help I ran down stairs to only have my toes covered in water. Grabbing furniture and electronics that were getting wet and towels and bedding to soak up the water. It was a wild night that turned into a long days of clean up.

The ceiling and walls in the hall wall were in bad shape. The plans for painting were put on hold until clean up and repairs could be made.

Quick Start is NOT Always a Good Idea

Once the hallways was cleaned and repainted, the fun began! I grabbed the roller and slapped some paint down in excitement and within a few minutes realized that something was not going right. Paint leeched from under the stencil. It looked sloppy and messy. I had used the spray adhesive and sprayed the stencil again with the SAME results. The wall stencil was also large and heavy and my painters tape wouldn’t hold it up on the wall! It kept sliding off and falling down.

Trying one more spot and stood far back and holding up a picture to give myself an idea of how it would look with my future gallery wall. Again, it looked WRONG.

Grabbing some Lysol wipes, I washed the paint off. The next day primed and repainted the wall. The other issue was how it looked wrong, in my eyes. The issue was the layers. I wanted to place pictures of smaller images on a large pattern. It actually looked too busy. The darker pattern was competing with pictures in the frames.

I was completely ready to wash my hands of the stencils until I was chatting with a fellow blogger. She asked if I paid attention to their tips and tricks, which I was SURE I did. No, I did not.

How to DIY with Wall Stencils the Right Way

Wall stencils sounds like they are super easy and they CAN be but a few things must be followed.

First, make sure your wall is CLEAN. Remember that ceiling and the repairs? Well the walls were DUSTY. Every time I tried to use the painters tape to hold up the stencil, it would slide off the wall. The tape and stencil were fine but my walls were an issue.

Second, the type of paint you use makes a difference. The stencils paint needs to be a bit thicker. I was trying to use a regular latex paint but it was a touch too thin and leeched underneath the stencil. Using Rustoleum’s Chalk Paint in Linen White was so much easier!

Third, the paper towel is a must-have! Not suggestions or a ‘good’ idea but 100% necessary! The information that is sent with Cutting Edge Stencils tells you to use only a tiny bit of paint and then to use the paint tray and roll off more paint. The next step is to roll the paint roller onto a clean paper towel. You THINK there is no paint on the roller and that is the trick! Rolling that almost invisible amount of paint onto the wall and gradually building the color is the right way! Doing this method means more control, a more organic look especially with the Olive Branches. Less paint also means less leaching under the wall stencil. When I tried using the stencil the first time, I skipped the papertowel and that was a BIG critical mistake.

Fourth, plan and visualize where you are planning to do your DIY wall stencil! My first attempt was in the hallway and would have been VERY bold but it would compete with the main focus (my wall gallery of picture frames). The instructions tell you to test on a piece of cardboard and once again I skipped this crucial bit of advice. If I had taken the time to do a sample, I would have saved myself the headache.

The pattern I chose is LOVELY and feminine. Walking around the house wondering where I could use it because I knew the hallway was not the right place for that pattern. When I got to my bedroom I was inspired. One focus wall with a subtle pattern. I knew this would work because the wall stencil would be the focus. Not the decor, no pictures on the wall. The white olive branches are subtle in some spots and stronger in others. The pattern was very forgiving (thank goodness because after all my goofs, I needed some grace).

The project was VERY quick! Working my way across the room, lining up the stencil, taking breaks here and there. Very little paint is needed for wall stencils. When I was finished I was dancing with excitement because it was gorgeous! Every time I walk into my bedroom I am thrilled with the end result. The walls in this room are all plaster and the stencil worked beautifully.

I hope all my trials and major errors will help you with your wall stencil project! Normally, I over plan and over think every project but this time I underestimated my own abilities and ate a little humble pie. Now I know how to DIY with wall stencils the right way, just read the directions. Thank you to Cutting Edge Stencils for sending me the Olive Branch Stencils to try and share with my readers.

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DIY, massive (slow) renovation on a budget, momming 5 little ones, farmhouse & vintage goodness, Canadian Mom blogger

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