How to Stencil

Choosing a Stencil Design

The Sports Fan Chalkboard is a great sports-themed stencil.
The Sports Fan Chalkboard is a great sports-themed stencil.

Stencils come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and styles. The stencil designs in this article are just a starting point as far as stencil design goes.

Commercially available stencils mimic all kinds of animals, plants, flowers, architectural details, and much more. Start by deciding what type of image you're interested in, and then take a look at the style and scale of your options.


The stencil needs to be the right size for your project. A two-inch-wide stencil wouldn't carry enough weight for a border at the top of a 12-foot wall, but it might be just right to trim a pillow. A 20-inch spot motif would be way too big for use on a waste­basket, but it can top off a window quite well.


Long, narrow stencils are usually meant as borders rather than center medallions. Many stencils are fluid in their shape: You can rearrange the elements to create a new shape and thus a new use for the stencil.


The style of the stencil is another check­point in choosing a design. Before you begin, make sure the design you choose works with the style of the room.

Before you start painting, you need to plan all aspects of your stencil project. Check out the next section to learn about planning a stencil pattern.

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