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Stencil a Coffered Ceiling Like a Pro

Before Cutting Edge Stencils, we successfully ran the decorative finishing company SpecFin Designs (short for Specialty Finishes). For nearly 25 years, Spec Fin has specialized in high-end finishes and design in the NY/NJ area. We wanted to offer detailed murals, faux frescos and decorative ceilings to our clients but produced in a quick and efficient way. Stencils turned out to be the perfect tool to do so. Many customers did not want artists in their homes for months working on their project so we began making and using stencils to create  beautiful hand-painted looks. Using a stencil gave us the opportunity to accomplish in a matter of days what would normally take months to do completely freehand. We soon realized that the stencils we designed were incredibly user-friendly and we felt we should offer them to anyone who was interested in beautifying their homes.

Some of our stencils are slightly more complex than others, such as our multiple overlay ones like the Hermitage Acanthus and Diamond Coffer. However, with a little guidance we truly believe that anyone can become a master! Below is a tutorial on how to use our Acanthus and Diamond Coffer stencils. Enjoy!

actual stencil design wall-stencils

The Hermitage Diamond Coffer Stencils comes with 3 Overlays which are marked in the bottom left corner of each stencil (1,2,3) so that you know in which order to use them. Each overlay also comes with a “TOP” marker to make the alignment process even easier. With each layer, the side marked “TOP” should be in the same place.

ceiling coffer actual stencil design wall-stencils

The Hermitage Acanthus Coffer Stencils also comes in 3 Overlays which again, are marked in the bottom left corner (1,2,3) and “TOP” to assist in the alignment process. With each layer, the side marked “TOP” should be in the same place.

ceiling coffer stenci

Here’s what you’ll need to get results like the coffer above:

*Diamond and Hermitage Acanthus Coffer Stencils from Cutting Edge Stencils
*Stencil Brushes (I would recommend one for each color)
*Elmer’s Spray Adhesive
*Low Tack Painter’s Tape (Either Blue or Purple depending on how sensitive your surface is)
*Small Craft Acrylic Paints ( you can find these at Michaels, they’re cheap and perfect for a project like this)
– Anita’s Olive Green, Folk Art Teddy Bear Tan, Burgundy and Raw Umber

ceiling coffers for stenciling

Our project had beautiful moldings installed and our coffer stencils fit inside the moldings very nicely. You can just as easily mask off a flat ceiling and paint gridwork in a complimentary tone to imply the look of moldings. Before you start any stenciling project, make sure your surface is fully dry and clean. Mask out the area around where you will be stenciling to protect if from getting painted on. In this case, Darin and Jeff (our wonderful stencilers) had glazed the trim and rosettes around the coffers so they just left the tape inside the coffer rather than remasking the trim. No biggie.

ceiling coffer

Once the ceiling coffers have been base-painted and are thoroughly dry and clean you are ready to stencil! To prep your stencil, we would recommend using Elmer’s spray adhesive to help it to stay up on the ceiling while you are painting. Follow the instructions on the can and make sure you spray in a well ventilated area! In addition to the spray adhesive, use some low tack painters tape on all 4 sides to help hold the stencil in place. Position your first overlay (marked 1) by gently pressing it into place and try to work out any air bubbles. Take note of where the”TOP” is so you can position the other layers the same way.

layer one of coffer stencil

Refer to the above photo which shows what colors we used and where. Use Olive Green for the leaves and Folk Art Teddy Bear Tan for the central flower and random ornaments. Raw Umber was used for the darker shading at the base of the leaves and Burgundy to add the reddish color to the lighter brown ornaments. For tips on how to use our stencil brushes to shade, watch our short and super helpful How-To Video.

layer two of ceiling stencils

Once your first overlay has been completed, place your second overlay on top of the painted first layer. Use the four fleur-de-lis elements in the corners as registration. While the “TOP” marker helps you know what direction the top of the stencil should be, the four elements in the corners should be your main registration marks. Use the above photo as a color reference.

completed coffer stencil

Use the same registration marks for your 3rd overlay and again make sure the “TOP” is in the same place as your previous stencils. Your final overlay has been completed! How great does that look, and it was as easy as 1-2-3!

stencils for ceiling coffers

We used both the Hermitage Diamond and Acanthus stencils on this coffered ceiling. The variety in shapes between the two adds a really nice balance of color, shape and design to the ceiling. The final look is so beautiful and may seem intimidating to someone who does not consider themselves a master artist, but with stencils anybody can achieve this amazing look!

DIY ceiling coffer stencils

This Music Room ceiling started life with an ugly acoustic drop ceiling! Quite a transformation.

DIY ceiling coffer stencils blue

SpecFin Design artisans painted this ceiling at the “Gloria Crest” mansion in Englewood NJ.

coffer stencils for ceilings

Another SpecFin ceiling in a penthouse overlooking NYC.

Stencils can add color, pattern and sophistication to any space. They are fantastic tools for todays DIY decorators.

Stop back soon and see what other exciting projects you can do with Cutting Edge Stencils!




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