Doily stencils add drama and life to an otherwise plain wall.

Painting the Wall With Doily Stencil

by Amanda Bell

Despite often being lumped together with all things old-fashioned, the various sizes, shapes and styles of doilies make them infinitely more versatile than they are given credit for, especially when used as stencils for walls. A doily stencil can add a sweet, charming element to a girl’s room or create an eye-catching, modern accent wall in a living area. Make it somewhat cutesy with a border or chair rail of doily stencils, or keep it sleek with a large design centered on a wall or a repeating pattern resembling wallpaper.

Place the doily stencil on a large piece of cardboard and practice painting it. Test out a dense foam mini-roller, sponge and craft brush, or combination of these, to find a method that works well for you and the stencil used.

Tape the wall at baseboard, molding and places you do not want paint with painter’s tape. Remove outlet and light switch covers and cover the floor with a dropcloth. Apply one coat of primer -- let this dry -- and then apply two to three coats of a flat paint. Even if you are happy with the existing wall color, a fresh coat of paint ensures that the stenciled portions look bright and vibrant; oftentimes, painting a new stencil over old paint makes the finished wall look dingy. Wait 24 to 48 hours after the last coat before proceeding.

Plan the position of the doily stencil. For one larger piece, position the stencil so that the center is about 57 inches from the floor, which is at an average eye-level. To create a pattern, measure the radius of the stencil and the distance you want between each design, adding these two measurements together. Cut a piece of string to this length plus add about 1 inch. Tie the string to a pencil and mark the center of the first doily. Hold the end of the string to this point, pull the pencil taut in against the string any direction, and then mark the second point. Repeat this until there’s a center mark for each stencil.

Secure the doily stencil to the wall with painter’s tape. If the edge around the pattern is very thin, use painter’s tape all the way around the perimeter of the stencil to protect the surrounding wall. Utilize low-tack tape -- indicated on the packaging -- to prevent marring the fresh coat of paint underneath.

Fill a tray with latex paint in a satin or glossy finish for contrast. Dip a dense foam brush, craft brush or sponge into the paint and then dab it off thoroughly onto a clean rag.

Apply the first coat of paint directly over the stencil lightly. Wait a few minutes, and then apply an additional coat to darken it. Applying the paint in thin coats, rather than one thicker one, prevents paint from dripping behind the stencil. This also gives the paint a crisp finished design.

Remove the stencil, pulling it straight out from the wall. With a thin craft brush, go back in and fix any portions that are a bit light or spotted. Place the stencil in the next location if applicable and repeat this process across the wall.

Items you will need

  • Cardboard
  • Foam mini-roller
  • Sponge
  • Craft brushes, various sizes
  • Painter’s tape
  • Dropcloth
  • Primer
  • Paint rollers
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint tray
  • Latex paint
  • Measuring tape
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Pencil


  • Work in a well-ventilated area and take frequent breaks when painting.

About the Author

Amanda Bell spent six years working as an interior designer and project coordinator before becoming a professional writer in 2010. She has published thousands of articles for various websites and clients, specializing in home renovation, DIY projects, gardening and travel. Bell studied English composition and literature at the University of Boston and the University of Maryland.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images