Drywall mud or plaster stenciling involves a wall stencil to apply patterns onto your surfaces with the help of drywall compound or venetian plaster compound.

By using a venetian plaster or other type of texturing compound and a stencil you will be able to add decorative embossed borders too your homes surfaces. Stencils can also create patterns such as brick or flag stone to an entire wall if that's what you prefer.

Below you will find how to information for plaster stenciling home along with advice regarding types of mudding compound or the stencil one should use to get the job done.


One of the good things about plaster stenciling is the lack of tools and materials needed. Heres a list of items that you might require for your particular project.

  • Painters plastic
  • Painters tape
  • Drop cloths
  • Texturing compound or venetian plaster
  • Drywall taping knifes
  • Drywall pan (or hawk)
  • Soap/water (if needed)
  • Heavy duty stencil
  • Old close (or coveralls), hat, gloves, & goggles (if needed)
  • Heavy duty electric drill, mixing paddle, pail (if mixing mud)
  • Level, tape measurer and a pencil

You can purchase a number of products and tools mentioned above from Amazon.com Because of Amazons size they tend to offer some reasonably good prices on tools and materials. Just be sure to use the free or low cost shipping options that are available to you.


You can purchase entire wall stencils if you wish. Stencils that add a border along walls or around windows and doors are another option.

Decorative items such as pots, furniture and mantel piece, can also be enhanced with the help of a raised texture design.

Keep in mind though that the less intricate your stencil is the easier it will be to remove once mudded.

Furthermore, stencils should be as thick as possible, (14 mill mylar tends to work best). Otherwise you won't get a very nice embossed look.

Also, you can make your own stencil if you prefer as most craft stores sell the tools and materials to do so.

Whatever stencil you do use be sure to follow all of the manufacturers recommendations including the application process and products to apply.


Stenciling your surfaces with texture compound isn't as messy as other texturing projects. With that said, move furniture out of the way along with masking (or taping off) anything you don't want mud on. A couple drop cloths will also protect your floors from drips and splatters. Remember to remove plugs, switch plates and light fixtures (for ceilings).

The surface being stenciled should be clean and dry along with any cracks or holes filled. Filler would then require sanding, priming and two coats of paint.

When painting consider using a complementary color (to the stencil mud) applied to the primed surface. Be sure to wait for your paint to be thoroughly dry before mudding your stencil on.


Unless otherwise advised most plaster or other texturing compounds need mixing. When mixing your mud it should be the same thickness as compound you would use for filling holes in your walls.

Some types of stenciling techniques may require a thinner mud though, do as recommended (by your product and tool supplier) for the job being done.

If your doing a large project mix your mud with a heavy duty electric drill, mud paddle and a five gallon pail. Add water (if needed) to get the consistency your going for.

Some products such as colored venetian plaster can be mixed with a stir stick and used right out of the container. You will need to decide on what works best for your specific job.


Both drywall mud and plaster can be tinted to a specific color using latex paint or actual universal paint tint. Venetian plaster is the best compound to use for stenciling though and can be purchased at most craft stores or drywall suppliers.

If you are using paint or tint to color your mud remember that to much of either could cause your mud to crack.

Use about a 1/2 cup of paint per gallon of compound (give or take) for the best results. Keep in mind too that paint will always give the mud less color than tint will. As an example a 1/2 cup of black paint to a gallon of compound creates a nice medium gray mud color.

Tint is best (liquid or powder) but may be harder to find. When using tint keep adding it to your mud until you get the color your going for. Also, don't use more tint than is recommended (always follow the label instructions).

No matter how you color the compound use a clean pail, heavy duty electric drill and mud mixing paddle (or paint stick for smaller jobs) to make a nice smooth uniform mixture.

Your now ready to place compound into (or onto) a tool while you stencil the mud on. Such a tool could be another taping knife, a trowel, a hawk, or mud pan.


Almost any type of tool can be used to apply a raised texture to your surfaces. Fingers, piece of cloth, sponge, news paper, paint brush, knock down trowel, drywall knives and a hopper gun (large jobs) will give a unique look and feel to your stenciling project.

When stenciling test and practice with all of your chosen tools, materials and products. Do so, on painted throw away drywall, your closets or a garage wall prior to beginning the intended walls and ceilings etc.


Start with a good thick sturdy stencil otherwise it will fall apart before the work is done. In fact using two or more stencils should make the process that much faster and a lot easier.

Drywall or plaster stenciling can be a reasonably simple process. The hardest parts are measuring out where you want the stencil, while at the same time keeping the stencil flat and in place while mudding.

With the help of a a measuring tape and pencil, lightly mark off where the stencil will be placed. There are usually alignment holes in the stencil for you to make pencil marks onto the wall or ceiling etc.

Tape your stencil/s securely into place using painters tape and your pencil marks. While doing so, use a carpenters level (if needed) to insure that everything is strait, even and level.

Dip your (two or three inch wide) drywall knife into the mudding pan of compound or plaster. You want a hot dog size and shape (or less) of compound on the end of your drywall knife.

You can now lightly slather the mud over your stencil. Place a good thick coating of compound on (not to thick though) then gently remove the excess mud with an empty drywall knife. Use your fingers to hold any raised stencil down (in spots) if needed.

After carefully scraping away the excess mud you can move the stencil, carefully aligning and mudding it again. Keep moving the stencil, until your entire project is complete.

Once your stenciling mud is dry you can realign the stencil (if need) to re-mud parts of the design that may require touching up with a little extra mud.

Furthermore, ridges and bumps etc., can be lightly sanded away with (very fine) sand paper if needed.


There are a couple of different drywall or plaster stenciling techniques one can try. Drywall knife plaster stenciling with venetian plaster (mentioned above) is the easiest and most common.

Other stenciling technique used for larger projects include rolling, trolling or spraying compound onto a surface then pressing your stencil into the mud.

Once the plaster or compound is dry follow up with a complementary colored mud over top of the stencil. After that mud is completely dry the stencil can be removed.

After your stencil is removed a couple coats of sealer are applied.


Some people who use plaster stencils also like to create there own plaster casts or molded designs. Most craft stores carry molds along with other tools and products you will need to make your own plaster castings. Such castings include flowers, leaves, medallions, corner pieces and wheels etc.


When purchasing a stencil (or if your making one) keep in mind that the less intricate it is the easier it will be to remove the stencil after the mud has dried. As your removing the stencil you want to do so gently otherwise you may rip your mud right off the wall.

Be sure to practice your stenciling on some old painted drywall using the intended mud, tools and stencil. If you make a mistake or your not liking the look of your stenciling project, the wet compound can easily be wiped away.

A clean rag and q-tips will work well for touching up edges of the wet mud if they are little ragged once the stencil has been removed.

Some muds once dry will need to be primed and painted, or a sealer used especially on projects that that are done outside.

There are stencils that you can buy that give a more detailed look and are called double overlay. Heavy gauge mylar is the best material for stencils drywall mud or plaster. The Internet, local craft stores and some drywall suppliers are good places to find stencils, tools and products.

Taping your stencil down will work but for the best results try if at all possible to find stencil adhesive. Such adhesive causes the stencil to lay flat against the surface and secured from moving around.

Items that can be painted can also be stenciled with mud. From grating cards and cabinet doors to picture frames, lamps or vases. Be sure to test out your mud stenciling skills on a number of different items.

You can adjust the size of the drywall knife that your using to apply the mud according to the size of the stencil being used.

Fine grit sand paper works well to gently remove any roughness and smooth the plaster out that the dried stenciling has if it looks like it needs it

Venetian plaster compound can be purchased at a number of different craft stores and comes in an assortment of colors. Wood filler is another product to use for stenciling if your looking for a different look.

Stencils and plaster molds can come in large tree shaped patterns to small intricate flowers.

Adding carpenters glue to your mud mixture (1 part glue to 2 parts water) can help the compound stick to a shinny surfaces better but is much more difficult to remove once the mud has dried.

Almost any type of water based dye, whether it's for food, fabric, concrete or stucco can be used to color your mud. Whatever you do use be sure to test first before applying it to your surfaces. Also keep in mind that the color of the mud will change once the mixed compound is dry.

Dried on stencils can be gently scraped away as long as the compound does not have glue in it or has been covered with some type of sealer or paint.

Dry brushing with powdered paint when done properly will accentuate the details that your stenciled on mud may have.

After your done stenciling let it dry for about 24 hours then you can paint it, apply a sealer or leave it depending on the type of compound you used. Amazon.com carries a number of wall stencil along with other stenciling handbook products and materials.

From plaster stenciling to the drywall texturing page

Return to the painting ideas & techniques home page

If your not in need of help with drywall or plaster stenciling check out other painting and decorating information by using the home page link above.

On the home page you will find navigation buttons such as ask a question along with interior or exterior projects and ideas.

Using the navigation bar should help find what you need or project your looking for.