Plan your project before you start. Choose a stencil design. Shop around for stencils or create your own. Pick a stencil design out of a book or magazine. Or check wallpaper sample books for great stencil design ideas. You can use a scanner to enlarge or reduce your chosen design as needed. Remember to first measure your risers so you choose the correct dimensions. Use a measuring tape to determine the needed dimensions. Trace the design onto a 7-mil Mylar® sheet or clear plastic file folder with a marking pen. The clear plastic or Mylar sheets work well for stencils because their transparency makes it easier to align your pattern as you move the stencil along when painting.
Use a craft knife to carefully cut along the outlines of the pattern so the paint can be applied through the stencil to the stair risers. Use a hole-punch to create registration marks in each corner of the stencil. These will help guide your work across the riser and keep your design consistent.