How to Remove Stencils From a Wall

Removing a stencil from a wall can be accomplished using different methods, depending on the type of stencil used. The three primary types of stencils are painted, embossed and vinyl. Removing an outdated stencil to update a room is not impossible. The type of stencil applied determines the amount of elbow grease required to complete the project.

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Cloth
  • Paint roller
  • Roller frame
  • Latex paint
  • Metal or plastic chisel
  • Lightweight joint compound
  • Drywall trowel
  • Hair dryer
  • Needle

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Painted Stencils

Use a fine grit sandpaper to smooth a painted stencil. Wipe the area clean with a damp cloth to remove any lingering dust particles.

Determine if the entire wall needs to be repainted, often necessary with a pattern stencil. Paint only the stenciled design if the design is small and not repetitive.

Use a paint roller and leftover latex paint used as the original base color. Remember that mixing a new batch of latex paint to cover an existing stencil will most often not match up to the base color used. Paint the entire stenciled wall to avoid color differentiation.

Embossed or Raised Stencils

Sand embossed stencils with heavy grit sandpaper; understand these are the most difficult stencils to remove. Try to remove as much of the embossing material as possible by sanding. Use a metal or plastic chisel to chip away at the stencil. Know the two options for removing an embossed stencil, including covering up the stencil or floating out the wall. Decide which option best suits the project—covering up the stencil adds texture to the wall; however, floating out a wall to be completely smooth is a major project.

Cover the stencil using lightweight joint compound and smooth on the plaster using a dry wall trowel. Create a texture on the wall similar to stucco by moving the trowel in different patterns. Allow the plaster to dry. Add more plaster to areas where the design is still apparent. Sand the finish once dry. Wipe with a dry cloth to remove dust and debris. Paint the wall with latex paint.

Add joint compound in thin layers to float out, or smooth, a wall. Add very thin, light layers to the entire wall. Apply the plaster using a drywall trowel. Smooth on the plaster as if icing a cake. Allow plaster to dry, sand smooth using sandpaper and continue the process. Remember that many layers of plaster may be added to achieve a smooth wall. Paint the wall when the wall is as smooth as possible using a bonding primer first, followed by a latex paint.

Vinyl Stencils

Use a blow dryer and apply heat to a vinyl stencil. Use a needle to pop up the vinyl design. Slowly peel back the stencil as the adhesive becomes less tacky.

Understand that paint and some dry wall may come up with the stencil. Continue to remove the remainder of the stencil.

Skim the wall with lightweight joint compound to fill any nicks or dings caused by removing the stencil. Sand the area smooth, wipe with a wet rag and paint with latex paint.

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