How To: Stencil Into Corners

I love stenciling because anyone can do it. Yes, I mean anyone. A designer has done all the hard work, creating a stencil pattern, and all you have to do is brush some paint through it and……BAM! You’re an artist. If you have not stenciled before please go to Royal Design Studio for a tutorial on basic stenciling. Melanie Royals, the owner, is the queen of stenciling, so get your basics there, she also sells the best stencils on the market, so pick up a couple of those too, and brushes, and paint and…………

I have seen a lot of beginners online jumping in with both feet and trying to stencil a large space, then when they hit the edge of the wall or the ceiling they give up. They try to cover it up by saying they only wanted to do an accent wall, but I know they got overwhelmed by the corners, poor things. I know my first few times working around corners had me considering buying wallpaper instead (don’t ever do that, wallpaper sucks and you’ll regret it forever).

So I thought I would give a step-by-step guide to stenciling in and around corners. Let me preface this by saying that stenciling in corners sucks (not as bad as wallpaper though, wallpaper really sucks). That being said, let’s jump in!


  1. Eat lunch – I can’t emphasize this enough. This job sucks, so don’t attempt it with just a cup of coffee in your belly.
  2. Put your watch away – if you need to be somewhere soon, or if you want to impress your husband with your speed, get off the ladder. You’re not in the right mindset to do this. I promise this will take four times longer than you imagine.
  3. Get a good roll of tape – I only use 3M Scotch blue painter’s tape, but now they have a bunch of different levels of tack and it’s good to understand the difference. For this job you want either the regular (white core) or the super sticky (green core). The light tack version (orange core) is not sticky enough for this job.
  4. Get a small painter’s brush and your container of whatever your base color is on the wall, for touch ups later. (Just go get it, no one is good enough to not need touch up paint, not even you!)
  5. Take a deep breath and repeat this phrase, “I am not aiming for perfection, I am just trying to blend in.”  The human eye notices patterns, so all you have to do is create a pattern without glaring differentiation. Here we go!

STENCILING – Worst-case scenario; a stencil that ends and begins in a corner

  1. Take your stencil and place it in the corner, checking first that the stencil is level. Don’t count on your ceiling or baseboard being level, they rarely are. Set the level at similar points (top of a leaf) that repeats on the stencil.

2. Lay one long piece of tape down the area going in to the corner where it naturally lays flat, but don’t try to get it all the way in to the corner. You may have to reinforce this piece at the bottom and top and even on to the second wall to keep it in place. Paint everything on the first wall up to where the stencil starts to rise up off the wall.

Don’t paint over the tape, or you’ll leave a hard line that’s difficult to get rid of.

4. Carefully pull the long piece of tape off the stencil, and any pieces on the second wall.

5. Load your brush and put it within easy reach.

6. Push the first area of the stencil you want to work on in to the corner with your hand, making sure it lines up with the part that you’ve already done.

7. With your other hand, quickly grab your loaded brush and stencil that area. Don’t try to jam your brush into the very inside inch of corner. Even if it would make you feel better to let out your frustration, you will make a dark ugly mark. Calmly ignore that inside one inch of blank space, you will deal with it later.

8. Repeat steps 5-7 for each stencil section on the first wall.

9. To move on to the second wall, position the stencil properly, checking the level again because after all the manhandling on the first wall, it may be going downhill (literally, not figuratively). When it’s lined up start putting tape wherever you can on the first wall to help keep it lined up. A long piece close to the corner is best, with some support pieces on the second wall to keep it from moving.

10. Repeat steps 5-7 again, avoiding that one inch space closest to the corner. Pull support tapes when you need to paint under them.

11. After pulling off the stencil, fill in the missing pieces in the one inch gap with a small artist brush. Load the brush LIGHTLY to match the amount of paint the stencil brush left.

Just lightly sketch in the missing pieces. Remember, you’re not aiming for perfection, you just don’t want it to be so horrible that it’s a glaring addition you can see from across the room.

See… one will ever know that you didn’t have some magic corner stencil brush! (which doesn’t exist by the way)

Easy Peasy……believe me, it’s better than trying to jam both the stencil and the brush in to the corner. If you mess it up, paint it over with the base color and try again.

I have on a couple of occasions, stenciled all the walls, except the corners and then cut the stencil into individual components so that I can fill in the missing pieces more quickly. This does ruin the stencil, but I have found that jamming it into a corner 50 times will also trash it, so why not make it easier on yourself.

Another way to avoid doing corners is to paint solid borders 3 inches wide at the ceiling, baseboard and corners. It’s a clean modern look without the hassle.

I hope this has been helpful. Please email me with any questions. You can even email me when you’re in tears and I will try to help you through it. Remember, it’s just paint, it can always be painted out.


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