• Stencils and Wall Decorating

    If you want your walls to have more of a pattern than plain paint, but you don't want to put up wallpaper, stenciling may be the answer for you. Stenciling involves repeating a single pattern or motif over and over along the wall. You can purchase stencils in many different styles at your local arts and crafts store.

    To get a good stencil, you need to align the different elements accurately and apply the paint carefully. To apply the paint requires a light touch, a sort of pouncing motion with a paintbrush that has been lightly loaded with paint. That motion can be made evenly so that coloring is applied in the same degree across the entire design. Or you can lighten the motion by the end so that the paint fades from top to bottom or right to left.

    It doesn't cost a lot of money to add stencils to your wall. A simple stenciling project might cost about $40. But it will take a little time, especially at first while you're learning how to go about it. But if you start out slowly and carefully, you'll soon become an expert and be able to produce beautiful stenciled patterns more quickly (but still carefully).

    Once you've chosen your stencil pattern, you should lightly mark a line along the wall where the bottom of the pattern is to rest. Use pencil or chalk to mark this line after measuring carefully and using a level to make sure that the line is in fact perfectly horizontal. This line should extend for the entire length of the wall where the stencil is to be applied.

    Your arts and crafts store should have an artist's adhesive that you can spray on the back of the stencil to hold it in place. This will allow you to position the stencil precisely along the line and later to remove it without leaving behind any residue. Once you've got the stencil in position, make it more secure with masking tape. Remember that you're about to "pounce" on it with a paintbrush.

    Once you've decided on a color of paint, mix up that paint and pour a small amount into a dish that you can easily hold in one hand. The other hand, of course, will be holding the paintbrush.

    Dip the paintbrush into the paint, but do not immediately apply the paint. Remember that stencils are meant to be light. Get rid of the excess paint from the brush with some old newspaper until the paintbrush is almost dry. Now it's time to "pounce" on the stencil with a light stroke across the gaps, giving just a brush of paint to the design.

    When you're done with that section, lift the stencil gently away from the wall along the bottom and make sure that the pattern has been adequately produced on the wall. If not, tape the stencil back down and go after the missed spots.

    Once you've got that one done, lift the stencil off the wall. Clean the back of any paint that may have gotten on it. Then stick the stencil up again right next to where it was before to create a continuous pattern. Repeat this process until you've stenciled all the way across the wall.

    If your stencil has more than one color, go back to the beginning with your second stencil. After making sure the paint has dried, put up the second stencil and repeat the procedure.