Use stenciling to add charm to older homes

July 29, 2015

You can add traditional charm to old homes by stenciling walls and floors with breathtaking decorative patterns. Whatever your chosen motif, we'll outline the procedures to follow for stunning stencil work.

Use stenciling to add charm to older homes

Add stencil work to your walls

  • Apply two coats of low-sheen acrylic paint before you start stenciling.
  • If you stencil in oil paint on top of the acrylic and make a mistake, remove the error with a clean, turpentine-soaked rag.
  • Use repeating borders, spot designs, or repeating all-over designs that simulate wallpaper.
  • On the wall, first map out your designs with chalk. For straight vertical designs, use chalk lines and a plumb line to ensure your work is straight. Start at the top and work your way down.

Make your floors more exciting

  • Before stenciling, have your floors professionally sanded and then apply two coats of oil paint with a mop or roller. Vacuum thoroughly before starting a floor, and then go over it with a damp rag to pick up any remaining grit.
  • Coat stone and concrete floors with hard-wearing floor paint before stenciling.
  • Coordinate the patterns and colours of floor stencils with your wall designs.
  • Imitation tiles or tiled bands are effective on floors, especially those with a central motif.
  • Floor stencils need about four or five coats of polyurethane varnish to last. Sand each layer in between coats and pick up any dust with a mop before applying the next coat.
  • Try not to paint yourself into a corner when working on the floor and always allow plenty of drying time. It may be best to work on half of the floor at a time.
  • You can stencil onto a varnished wooden floor if you use quick-drying blackboard paint, Japanese paint, or signwriting oils. As with other stenciling, hold your stencils in place with spray adhesive.
  • Seal and protect the floor with a hard-wearing, proprietary varnish appropriate for the surface. As the floor wears, sand it back so that extra layers of varnish can be applied.

Tackle corners with these stenciling tricks

  • For a floor corner, calculate how many repeats of a design can be spaced for the wall. When you reach the corner, use a piece of paper to form a mitre (masking out that part of the stencil at the turn). If this forms an undesirable shape, design a special stencil to help you round the corner.
  • To stencil a wall corner, push the stencil into the corner and place a piece of paper under the stencil to mask the overlap onto the adjoining wall. The mask will protect the adjoining wall from smudges as you stencil. When the paint is dry, reverse the procedure as you stencil around the corner onto the next wall.
  • A quicker way to navigate corners is to calculate your pattern so that it finishes at the corner. That way, you can start the pattern fresh on the next wall. Alternatively, interrupt the pattern just before the corner is reached and resume it on the other side at an equal distance away.

Even if you're not artistically inclined, you can add vibrancy and charm to your home through stenciling. It's easy to revitalize older spaces this way, and it adds an eye-catching, homemade touch to any area. So follow these tips and get stenciling: it's always a good time to add a fresh face to your home.

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