July 10, 2018

Stenciling On Tile

My kitchen backsplash was a pretty boring single-color tile.
 After seeing the Moroccan-looking tiles being used by
 designers on floors and backsplashes recently, I 
decided that my back splash would be a good candidate
 to have a similar look stenciled on it. 

A lot of the stencils with a Moroccan design are 8" square.
My kitchen tiles are 4" square. I found Pearl Stencils on Etsy.
The owner Patricia can make her stencils in almost any size
that you need. Her price was very reasonable.

Actually I ordered two different stencils because I couldn't
decide between them. When I did a trial run, the stencil 
without a lot of detail was easier to do on the backsplash tiles. 

Here are the supplies that you would need if you want to 
stencil on your backsplash too...
extreme bond primer
paint for tile background
brush to apply tile background paint
paint for stencil design
sponge or spouncer to apply paint to stencil
sealer coat

I found that having disposable gloves and painter's
tape were also very helpful. 

The color on the wall and the tile is Georgian Green
by Benjamin Moore (HC-115).
The color of the cabinets is Urbane Bronze by Sherwin
Williams (SW-7048). I decided to use that color for the
stencil color too but in a "flat" sheen. 
Here is a retrospective look at my kitchen. When we bought the house, everything was white.
Then (picture above white kitchen) we painted the tile the same color as the walls and the 
cabinets a dark green. Later we painted the cabinets in "Urbane Bronze" a gray green. 

First clean your tiles well and apply the primer.
 Follow the directions on your can of primer. 

When we moved in the house 14 years ago, we
decided to "wait" to change out the kitchen backsplash
and just painted the white tile with the bond primer and a 
coat of latex wall paint (same color as walls). It has stayed
 on perfectly so I really did not need to redo that step. 

I suggest starting your stenciling in an area that is not
the center of attention so you can get the hang of it. 
I wanted my stencil design to form a quatrefoil pattern. 
I had to be mindful of which way I placed  the stencil on
 the tile to accomplish that look across the backsplash.  

I wanted to tiles to have a worn, old tile look so I used a 
sea sponge to apply the paint to the stencil to get a more
irregular look. If you like a more filled in look with a
 cleaner edge, you could use another method like a roller.

Having to lean across the counters to stencil the 
backsplash was tiring on my back so I only could
 work on it a couple of hours a day. Also we don't have
under counter lights so sometimes I would need to prop 
up a flashlight to help me see what I was doing. 

After a couple of hours of stenciling it was a good idea
to stop and clean off the stencil from the paint build up.
The design gets less "sharp" after a while of painting. 

Painter's tape was helpful to hold the stencil in place 
while I sponged on the paint. As with any stenciling, you
don't want to have much paint on your applicator so the
paint does not run under the stencil. Always brush/dab
most of the paint off before putting it on the stencil. 

If I got more paint on the design than I wanted, I dabbed a 
little of the base color back over the dark color to make it 
not so solid-looking. If you have the base color it is also 
helpful to paint back over mistakes with the stencil painting. 

When you get confident of how you want the pattern to look,
you can stencil non-connected tiles so that the paint can dry
on a tile before you stencil an adjacent tile with wet paint.

The slowest part of the stenciling was the odd corners and
edges. Lots of painter's tape and patience was required to 
try to "match" the tiles. The stencil was nice and "bendy".

For the bullnose edge pieces of the original tile, I used only a
portion of the stencil to make a complimentary design. 

Finally I decided to cut the stencil to get in to very 
tight spaces where I could not bend the stencil enough
to get a good design. 

The cut stencil made it much easier to get in tight areas. 

Finally, I got the backsplash "good enough" (are there slight
mistakes, yes, but when you look at it as a whole they are not
 noticeable) to put three coats of a clear varnish over the paint.

Even though we never really redid the backsplash with new 
tile (like we intended 14 years ago) this inexpensive paint
technique will probably get us through the next few years. 

When we bought the house, this area was an opening. We did not like that the glass front door
beyond the opening allowed anyone to look into the kitchen and us in our pajamas, etc. 
We sheetrocked the opening up. We painted this dresser the same color as the cabinets.
It is great storage for kitchen items. 

Can you see what is hiding behind the cutting boards? It's a T.V! A must. 

On the other side of the sink is enough counter space to have
an informal eating space we pull bar height chairs up to. 
The kitchen area is almost like an island with the dining room on the left side and the 
living room on the right side. I LIKE the kitchen not being visible from the front door. 

Also we have a kitchen table and chairs beside the kitchen 
windows. The table can be made in to a full circle when we 
need more seating in this area. 

Truth be told, I can't find the pictures I took of the beginning of
this stenciling project. Every stencil project is different so maybe
some of these tips can help you if/when you decide to stencil
your tile OR just make an area LOOK like tile. 


  1. That looks absolutely fantastic. It really does look like "old" tiles. Great job. You have done a lot of work in the years you have lived there. It sure looks pretty to me! xo Diana

  2. Wow, your tile looks like it was done by a professional. I love the stencil look on your backsplash, looks so very old world. Such a great look for your kitchen along with the color.Your home is lovely. A great tutorial for DIY and I enjoyed reading and all the pics. Enjoy your new kitchen!

  3. It looks beautiful! I have been considering a tile stencil for my backsplash too. Great post!

  4. What a great backsplash dear friend! If someday I want to change mine I would do this, for sure !
    It's looking beautiful and I also love your cutting boards, I have a thing for them, lol..

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  8. Anw, I like that the glass front door beyond.


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