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How to Make a Stencil Wall Border

Before you jump into this job, you should have to gather these materials:

1. Flat latex or alkyd paint (1 galloon covers approximately 350 square feet)

2. Border stencils ( precut, or your own design cut from clear .0075 acetate)

3. Felt-tip pen for marking on acetate

4. Japan paints (fast-drying varnish-based stenciling colors) in 1/2 -pint cans)

5. Natural-bristle 1-inch stencil brushes, one for each paint color

6. Roll of Blank newsprint at least 1 foot wide

7. Saucers for holding paints

8. Palette knife for mixing paints

9. Masking tape

10. Paper towels

11. Mineral spirits for clean up


1. Prepare walls with flat latex or alkyd paint (do not use high-gloss or semi-gloss).

2. Place Japan paints and saucers, mixing with palette knife to achieve desired colors. Cover saucers with foil to keep paints from drying out. To avoid having to remix colors, prepare enough for entire border (1/4 cup per color is sufficient for border of a 12- by 15- foot room). You should have a separate stencil for each color; colors are applied one at a time, beginning with largest motifs.

3. To determine placement of border on walls, first make a “proof” of stencil design. To make proof, affix stencil for first color to sheet of blank newsprint with masking tape. Dab stencil brush into paint, wiping off any excess on paper towel so that brush is almost dry. Apply paint to stencil in gentle circular motion. If bristle becomes dry and stiff, moisten paper towel with mineral spirits and apply to bristles.

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4. After paint has dry, move stencil alone using registration marks on left or right side of stencil pattern to align for next design repeat. Continue until you have created a proof of first color that is 3 to 4 feet long. Repeat for all stencils and design until proof of design is complete.

5. Hold proof against wall to determine placement of border relative to ceiling. To mark final placement, make light pencil marks on wall and corresponding ink marks on stencil for first color.

6. For a continuous border, start a dominant corner of room ( the one your eyes see first when you enter). Tape stencil for first color to wall according to pencil marks, and apply paint as u did on proof. A.) Move stencil along, using registration marks to align stencil for each repeat. B.) Stencil first color along approximately two-thirds of wall, then used proof to measure how remaining design repeats will fall at next corner. If there is not enough room for entire design, you will need either to stretch it out or to squeeze it together unobtrusively by moving stencil ¼ inch to ½ inch per repeat during final third of the wall to fit design. Stencil first color around all walls.

7. Back at starting corner, tape stencil for second color to wall, using registration marks to align it over design made by first stencil. Apply paint using different brush. C.) stencil second color around all walls. Continue with all stencils that make up design. D.) Clean stencils and brushes with mineral spirits.