The Writing’s On The Wall: An Alternative to Vinyl, Wall Decals


May 9, 2013 by Decorum DIYer

In a previous post, I showed you how I framed two, nautical prints using paint.  Not only did it give the art more presence in the room, but the frame also allowed me to add the red accent color and personalize with a monogram.



I used this concept to not only give some flair to the artwork, but to also provide the neutral room with more personality and color throughout:


A loose, argyle strip and my son’s first and middle name above his crib.


A mini, argyle strip to anchor more art work, namely, our son’s hospital photo.


Again, I’m not great at photographing, but you get the idea.

In that same previous post, I promised to share my secret for creating the look of a vinyl, wall decal using paint.

 The best part, you probably already have all of the supplies!

Here is a list of what you need:

  1. a printer
  2. computer with a word program (you need the fonts)
  3. paper or contact paper/adhesive drawer liners cut to fit the printer
  4. contact paper/adhesive drawer liners (in lieu of above, in case the paper will not feed through your printer)
  5. exact-o blade and/or scissors (a steady hand helps, too)
  6. dark pen or marker
  7. paint (your current wall color and the color of your writing[the text you want on the wall]
  8. Small paint brushes (1/2 inch and extremely small [for microscopic touch-ups])

The process:

  1. Basically, you figure out what you want on your wall, type it in a word program to the size and font you want.  (I knew my monogram had to fit inside the box, so I did some careful measuring, test printing, and re-measuring.)
  2. Print out your text directly onto the contact paper/adhesive drawer liner OR onto a plain sheet of paper (If you use paper, you will need to trace the text onto the contact paper/adhesive drawer liner.  This is accomplished by placing the contact paper/adhesive drawer liner over the sheet of the paper with the printed text, hold firmly in place against a window during daylight or a window/glass backlit by a light.  Trace away.)  I used paper, here you can see that I taped the paper to the wall to make sure it was the appropriate scale:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  3. Using an exact-o blade or scissors, carefully cut out your text.
  4. Remove the backing and carefully place on the wall (clean, of course). Be sure to burnish the edges of the lettering/text for a good seal.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


    Does that contact paper/drawer liner look familiar?

  5. Using the wall’s color, carefully seal around the edges of the text to be painted.  This should prevent seepage.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  6. Since the wall color is a light coat, it doesn’t take long to dry. Next, using the color of paint you want for your text, carefully paint away.  I used inward brush stokes with a brush.  In future, I might use a pouncing method with a foam brush, you know, like for stenciling?  (You’ll see why soon.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  7. The moment of truth.  Immediately after painting, carefully and slowly remove the contact paper/adhesive drawer liner.  This is what I was left with – not stellar:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  8. So much seepage, why?  I attribute it to my lack of a foam brush, not using a pouncing method, and my crazy, orange-peel-textured walls.  I’m sure your results will be better.  No fear, using the tiniest brush available, I simply touched up with my wall color and it looks pretty darn good.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  9. Okay, things didn’t quite work out with that monogram.  Don’t worry.  You can do what I did.  (Shhhh, no one knows.  Well, now you do.) I simply used the  letters that I cut out of the contact paper, painted them, and stuck them to the wall. A poor man’s vinyl decal, no?  A very similar process to how I changed Clairisse’s actual vinyl name from gray to white.

So, you may be wondering, “So how did you paint the argyle stripes?”  Maybe you aren’t wondering that, but I’m going to tell you anyway.  😉

I knew I wanted argyle (I think preppy argyle and northeastern nautical go well together, don’t you?  Think Harvard.  🙂  )  I also knew that I didn’t want a full-on wall of argyle.  Too overpowering in this small room, not to mention, way too much work for this weary mother.

  • I measured the height of my stripes – 18″.  I knew I wanted the argyle diamonds to be the same height, but not the width.  If they were 18″ wide as well, they would just look like fat squares standing on their corners.  So, I figured that 12″ wide was a good scale. (For the mini argyle strip that only occupies one stripe’s height, each diamond is 6″ tall and 4″ wide.)
  • From there, I measured and drew pencil lines.
  • I taped off following the pencil lines of the diamonds.

    (I removed the lettering. It was there for one last check.)

    (I removed the lettering. It was there for one last check.)  {Made you turn your head sideways. 😛 }

  • I painted the diamonds in an alternating color block to mimic the color bands of the stripes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • I removed the tape immediately and waited for the paint to dry.
  • Next I penciled out my cross-stitch.  I first thought that I would try to mimic actually stitches, but decided against it – too much taping, measuring, etc….  I  don’t mind the abstract argyle look.
  • Lastly, I painted my ‘stitching’ in the accent color – red.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There you have it.  A vinyl decal look that isn’t a vinyl decal.

Sure, it is less work to purchase a pre-made vinyl decal or create one yourself with your Silhouette, but my way is super-duper diy and more customizable as to scale and color.

Looks great, doesn't it?

Looks great, doesn’t it?


Until next time…, happy painting and faux vinyl decal-ing!


One Project’s Closer – The Better Half’s The Humble Brag


7 thoughts on “The Writing’s On The Wall: An Alternative to Vinyl, Wall Decals

  1. Amber E. says:

    This is awesome! YOU are awesome. I absolutely love the results and attention to detail. Though quite tedious, this is how I usually do things too because I don’t own a Silhouette either.

  2. Christa says:

    Love it. It looks so great.!

  3. Wow! That looks great! You have super duper painting skills. I do not have a steady enough hand or coordination for argyle but you aced it!

  4. […] Of course, if you don’t want to (or can’t) paint, you could always use washi tape.  OOOooh, think of the possibilities.  Next time, I’ll show you how I added Ascher’s initials to the frame without using purchased vinyl decals or a Silhouette machine.  I’ll also share some other little embellishments around Ascher’s nursery. (Pssst, you can see those here!) […]

  5. You and your resourcefulness astound me. Who knew you could print on contact paper?! Genius! And you had me fooled; this truly did look like vinyl art at its finest. Instead, it’s Christine’s-vinyl-hack-at-its-finest!

  6. Jo says:

    Great forethought and execution for a labor intensive project. Love the printing on contact paper. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

  7. […] was primarily done with the addition of painted wall accents.  You can see those tutorial posts here and […]

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