Simple stencilling

A quick and easy project for your dirty weekend, by Barbara Chandler
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Stylish stencil paint finish
Highlight one wall - or just part of it - with a fashionable pattern of metallic dots. This idea also works well on screens and large cupboard doors - but you need a fairly large area for the pattern to be effective.

This project uses a simple circle stencil motif. We tell you how to cut your own, but you could also use a ready-made stencil from a DIY store, or order through The method can be adapted for any stencil.

Choose two different water-based acrylic paints. Suggested combinations are gloss silver on matt silver (or any other metallic combinations, such as gold, bronze, copper or pewter); silver on grey; caramel on cream, and so on. Experiment with tester pots. The trick is to be subtle rather than "in your face".

If you leave enough time for paint to dry, you can complete this project in a day, or over a weekend.

What you need: Two shades of water-based acrylic paint (for smaller areas, you can use a tester pot for the dots); roller; roller tray; stencil, or make your own from cardboard from a cereal packet or similar, or buy a sheet of acetate from a stationer/art shop; small sharp scissors; soft pencil; stencil brush (with small, round head and stubby bristles; low-tack masking tape; ruler/steel rule; small bowl; spirit level; newspapers or old sheet; and damp and dry rag or kitchen roll (for cleaning up as you go).

1. Protect floor with newspapers or an old sheet. Make sure your surface is clean, dry, free from grease and smooth. For tips on this vital surface preparation, go to

2. Read instructions on paint can. Working from the top of the wall downwards, apply base coat with roller, and allow to dry. Apply second coat, if necessary, and allow to dry.

3. Prepare your stencil (unless you have bought one). On a square/rectangle of card, draw pattern of small dots, using any suitable template, such as top of aerosol, or eggcup, or small saucer. Keep distance between dots even. Cut out dots with small scissors (pierce centre of each and then cut out and round).

4. On a dry wall, work out spacing and positioning of design on the wall, using steel rule and spirit level. Mark guide lines lightly in pencil. To keep spacing even, position stencil over last row of dots each time you move it.

5. Starting from the top, place stencil on wall, following guide marks, and attach with masking tape.

6. Decant a small amount of paint into bowl or paint-can lid.

7. Apply paint with stencil brush, using soft dabbing action. If you have not done this before, practise first on a spare piece of card. Each time you use the brush, dab off surplus first. It is essential not to overload the brush, or paint will seep under the stencil. Don't worry too much about getting each circle exactly the same as small differences add to the hand-done look.

8. Remove stencil design immediately while paint is still wet, carefully peeling off masking tape. Allow to dry. Continue across/down wall until pattern is complete, taking care not to smudge previous sections as you go.

9. You can also paint the skirting board with metallic paint to complete the look.

For further details of this and similar projects, go to

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