How to Create a Wall Border with Stencils

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Border designs are an easy way to decorate the top of a wall or along an architectural feature like chair rail. You can also stencil borders on furniture, windows, and things like wrapping paper. Many My Wonderful Walls stencils make a great border! The hardest challenge with creating a border is keeping it on a straight line as you repeat your stenciled pattern. Using a guideline and registration marks will help you accomplish your goal and make a beautiful bordered design look like it was professionally created.

Begin by measuring from the edge of the ceiling, floor, or whatever architectural feature is closest to the placement of your wall border. You can use a carpenter’s level to help you in case of sloped walls, floors or ceilings. Mark your guideline with a chalk line on painters’ tape, then you don’t have to worry about removing the marks later.  Measure the position you want in a couple of places and with the help of a second person if necessary, apply a length of painters’ tape in roughly the right position.

Now you’ll want to re-measure each end of your stencil and put your chalk line along the tape. To position the stencil, align the registration holes or stencil edge with the guideline you have chalked out on the tape and mark those holes right on the tape. Make sure to use the lowest tack painters’ tape available and when working with a freshly painted surface, give it time to completely cure before putting tape of any kind on it.

Most stencils will have a printed or cut out outline of the trailing cutouts for the adjacent repeat. Simply overlap and line up these outlines onto the corresponding parts that have just been painted. When the top edge of the stencil is lined up along the guideline and the registration outlines are lined up over the appropriate stenciled parts, then the stencil is in the right place for the next repeat. If registration outlines are cut out, not printed, be careful to not paint them a second time.

Another challenge with painting a border in an entire room is in most cases the length of the wall is probably not going to be an even multiple of the stencil length. There are a few ways you can address this. To make a continuous border, you can try folding the stencil into corners. Alternatively, you can truncate the design on both sides of the corner. You may also be able to use a corner piece (which may come with the border stencil you purchase or you could separately purchase a coordinating design) to mark the end of the border segment. There is no wrong answer, it is just what you feel most comfortable with and find most visually appealing.

Paint over your stencil with a roller brush as usual, making sure to use the steps in our How to Stencil Using a Roller with Liquid Paint article. Carefully remove the stencil and reapply to the next portion of your wall using your registration guidelines to line it up correctly and continue. Once you are done, remove your painters’ tape as soon as possible pulling it straight back on itself. Let your border design fully dry, using a hair dryer if necessary to speed up the process.

You will now have a gorgeous wall border to show off to friends and family. You can also easily translate these steps to painting a border on other items as well. If you’ve ever used our wall stencils to create a border, we’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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  • Tara Woodbury
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