Damask Stenciling Instructions, Learn How To Stencil Step by Step


  1. Stencil(s)
  2. Sample board (poster board, cardboard etc)
  3. Latex or acrylic paints, including some basecoat paint
  4. Dense foam roller with rounded ends, stencil brushes
  5. Paint tray or a large styrofoam plate
  6. Sea sponge or utility sponge for background faux finish
  7. Low tack painter's tape, spray adhesive (optional)
  8. Cutting Edge Stencil Level
  9. Paper towels or rag, cleaning tools & liquid soap
  10. Chip brush
  11. Step ladder (optional)

Very important: Work out your technique and color combinations on a sample first. It is always a good idea to make a sample. Use a wall in the garage, a piece of cardboard, or even an old pizza box as your sample surface. Make sure you like your color combinations and are comfortable with your stenciling technique before hitting the real wall!

Make sure your walls are clean, dust free and in good condition. Any cracks or chips should be repaired, filled, primed and painted prior to stenciling. All base coats should be fully dried for at least 24 hours prior to stenciling. You can stencil over flat (recommended) latex house paint, faux finishes, plaster textures, wood, furniture, paper, fabric and even some wallpaper.

First mask out the baseboards and ceilings (or ceiling crown molding) using low tack 2" painter's tape. We love using Scotch Blue 2" painters tape.

You can now proceed to stenciling. The pattern can be applied over a regular flat house paint. However, we find that simple faux finishes best compliment the allover/damask patterns.

To create a simple mottled sponged background, you'll need 2 (or 3) flat latex paint colors and a sponge. Use a sea sponge or a utility sponge with a similar texture. Pluck off the edges of the utility sponge to break the straight lines. Stir your paints well. Here we used Benjamin Moore 1069 and Navajo White. Apply both colors to the sponge with a chip brush as shown. Sponge the wall rotating your wrist with each dab. This helps to disguise the sponge shapes and to blend the two colors together. To lighten the finish, add more white paint to your sponge, and to darken add more darker color. Keep blending the colors on the wall until the desired mottled look is achieved. A hint: latex paint always dries a bit darker.

Work in small sections and keep sponging until all walls are done. For edges and corners use a chip brush with both colors on it. Simply stipple and dab with the brush to blend the colors. Since you will be adding a pattern on top of your faux background, don't worry if your finish looks less than perfect or a bit dramatic. Your eye will later go to the pattern and all those imperfections in the sponging will not be as noticeable. In fact, if your background is too even, it is less desirable since it will look more like flat paint under the stenciled pattern rather than a faux finish. Let your sponged background dry fully before proceeding to the next step. You can lightly sand off any rough spots using fine 220 sandpaper.

It is smart to start with the least visually "important" wall, like the corner above a door or top left corner on the wall.  This gives you an opportunity to work out your technique in a less conspicuous area. By the time you reach an "important" wall, you'll be so comfortable with your technique you'll feel like a pro!

For an Accent/feature wall, it's smart to start on a section of the wall that allows you to do an un-interrupted floor-to-ceiling row of the pattern. This way you establish a perfect vertical pattern from which to extend left and right.

Position your damask stencil on the wall and secure it with 4-6 pieces of low tack masking tape.

Don't bend the stencil, just place it flat on the wall and tight against the ceiling  crease. There will obviously be some gaps left from the stencil frame, but we'll take care of them later.

Do not use regular white masking tape as it is way too sticky for most painted surfaces and will likely pull off the base paint when you remove your stencil. You can also use a spray adhesive to achieve even cleaner edges.

Using our innovative Clip-On Stencil Level (pat.pend.) check that your pattern position is level. Correct your positioning if necessary. Our clip-on level is light weight and can stay on the stencil during the entire project and will help you to correctly position each imprint. Our Stencil level clips to either the top or the bottom of the stencil. You can also use a plumb-bob, traditional bubble level or a laser level.

Now pour some acrylic or latex paint onto a foam plate or into a paint tray. You don't need much, about 2-3 tablespoons of paint is enough to start with. Any waterbased paint should work. Craft acrylics are great, regular latex paint will work but the best in our opinion is Benjamin Moore paint called Ben. This paint is very economical and covers really well with 1 coat. It has just the right consistency for stenciling.  Have your dense foam roller ( or stencil brush) ready.

Load your foam roller by rolling it over the paint a few times until it absorbs most or all of it. Use only dense foam rollers with rounded edges. These are
available on our website.

Now blot off the excess paint on a folded paper towel by rolling it back and forth a couple times. There should be no visible paint on the roller surface. It should look almost dry. Remember, it's better to have less paint on your roller, than too much paint.

When you need to take a break from stenciling in the middle of the project, just cover your paint tray with plastic wrap, and tightly wrap a piece of plastic or foil around the roller to prevent the paint from drying out.

Roll the stencil with your roller using light to medium pressure. Excessive pressure may cause paint bleeding under the stencil. Be careful not to roll over the outside edges of the stencil! We design most of our stencils with at least a 1" frame to give you some rolling room. Strategically placing blue masking tape on the narrowest edges can help prevent "roll-overs".

You can easily check how you're doing by carefully un-taping and lifting one corner of the stencil and taking a peek. Do you like what you see? Enough pressure or can it use a little more paint? If it's too pale, just put the stencil back and roll it a couple more times back and forth, slightly adding more pressure. When stenciling lighter colors over darker colors, you may need 2 coats to achieve good coverage. Let the 1st coat dry for a couple of minutes and then roll the stencil again.

When you are done with your first print, un-tape and reposition the stencil right below the finished print. No need to wait for the previous repeat to dry. The flat basecoat is very absorbent so there should be no smudging. Our Allover/Damask stencils are designed to lock-in with themselves. Simply line up your stencil with the previously painted parts, check for level and continue. Don't worry of it doesn't line up perfectly and don't roll over the previously painted areas. This gives you a seamless look and allows you to continue around the room.  

To do the bottom edge or side edges: tape off the edge with bue tape. Then, simply bend the stencil where it meets the corner or edge, tape it in place and roll right into the crease. You can get deeper into the crease with a stencil brush.

When all walls are done, you want to fill the gaps in the pattern at the ceiling line. We often use a special top part stencil designed just for that. You can fill those gaps with your large stencil too, but it's much easier with the separate Top part stencil.


Don't be intimidated. Corners are no big deal if you follow our instructions. For best results, tape and stencil one wall at a time.  Once you get to the corner, gently bend the stencil and place it into the corner. Make sure  your pattern lines up with your previously stenciled damask. Secure that half of the stencil in place leaving the other half unattached. Roll over your stencil and then roll directly into the corner crease. Detail the corner crease by using a stencil brush. Now we're going to move to the right side. For this we're going to install our clip-on Stencil level. Since we're starting a new wall, we want to make sure our pattern is level. Simply slide the Level onto the top of the untaped right side of the stencil, making sure the Level sits firmly against the plastic.

Once you've checked for level, secure the right side of the stencil with painter's tape, and untape the left side. Now we're going to roll the right side just like we did the left side. Roll the stencil straight into the corner and detail the corner crease with your stencil brush. Now carefully remove the stencil, and there you have it: the corner is conquered! Continue stenciling your pattern by simply aligning the stencil with your previously painted design

 A few more corner tips: Taping the stencil to both walls at once usually does not produce a good result. Using spray adhesive may help with holding a large stencil in place when working on corners.

Usually it's enough to just wipe off a fresh mistake with a wet cloth, baby wipe or moist q-tip. It is always a good idea to have some basecoat paint at hand in case you need to correct bigger mistakes. In this case, just re-roll or re-sponge your basecoat over a dry mistake. It may take 2 coats to cover. Let it dry completely and now you're ready to re-stencil the area.

What to do if the stencil repeat doesn't quite line up? Just what every pro would do: cheat a little! ;) Align the pattern the best you can, level it and roll away. Your eye will never notice the discrepancy. Just make sure not to double-roll the parts that were already stenciled. Don't forget that you're creating a "hand painted finish". A few imperfections and some paint seepage here and there are natural and inevitable for this type of work.

We find that it is not necessary to use spray adhesives with stencils. However, if you want to minimize paint seepage or are using high contrasting colors, adhesive  is very helpful (Elmer's spray adhesive seems to be the best). Make sure you shake the can well and lightly mist (not drench) the back of the stencil, and let it dry for a moment before positioning it on the wall. This step will prevent the adhesive residue transferring to the wall. You'll need to re-mist the stencil after a few repeats. Clean-up tip: Spray the stencil with Simple Green to help to remove adhesive residue.

The stencil will eventually accumulate a thick layer of paint after many repeats, so it will have to be cleaned. You can let it dry completely and simply peel off the paint skin, or you can give it a brief soaking in a tray or tub of water and then wash off the paint. Best cleaning method we have found is to place the stencil on a flat surface like a large baking tray, and scrub it with a dish cleaning brush under running water. The paint comes right off and the stencil doesn't get entangled or damaged this way. Please don't let pieces of paint go down the drain. It's bad for your plumbing and for the environment! Always insert a mesh strainer into the drain hole and then shake out the paint pieces into a trash can.

After the stencil is clean, place it on paper towels to dry, and pat it with a roll of paper towels to speed up the drying process. For a large project it may be smart to purchase 2 or even 3 stencils to save time on cleaning. Store your stencils flat, in large drawers if you have them, or under the bed interlaced with paper. Alternatively, you can hang them clipped to a clothes hanger, but don't store them rolled, unless it's the only option.

If you accidentally break one of the "bridges" in the design while stenciling or cleaning, you can easily fix it by attaching small pieces of clear packing tape on both sides of the break.

When you're ready to re-decorate, lightly sand your walls and simply roll 2 coats of basecoat paint over your stenciling and it's gone.

PDF Printable Instructions


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