How To Stencil

  1. Surface Prep:
    1. Stenciling can be done on many surfaces, like paper, walls, floors, furniture, household items and textiles.
    2. The surfaces can be flat or rounded.
    3. Surfaces need to be clean. And stable. Fabrics can be stretched on a board or mat and held with our Repositionable Spray or Pins. 
  2. Paint types:
    1. Most any kind of paint can be used with stenciling. We sell acrylic paint which is safe to sue and sticks to almost any surface.  The keys to paint selection are:
      1. Will it adhere to the surface you are painting?
      2. Will it stand up to the environment where it will be used and last as long as desired. Floors and exterior use are particularly tough for paint.
  • Make sure that you have the appropriate application tool for the paint.
  1. Preparation and placement of the stencil:
    1. Decide where you want to place the stencil. Insure that the entire stencil will be flat against the surface.  (the stencil can be trimmed if you are trying to fit into a small space.)
    2. You can use temporary marking, rulers, and tape to place your stencil exactly where you desire.
    3. The stencil can be placed on flat or curve surfaces.
    4. Fix the stencil so it will not move by using our Repositionable Stencil Adhesive (works especially well on curved surfaces) or Frog tape or other paint tape.
  3. Apply with a brush:
    1. We recommend stencil brushes as the brushes are thick, stiff and flat and are designed to allow “pouncing” and “swirling” techniques. Use a larger brush for larger areas and smaller brushes for smaller area.  We recommend using one brush at least per color.
    2. Put a small amount of paint on a pallet or tray, (we recommend paper plates.)
    3. Load the Brush: Dab the brush into the paint and work into the bristles. Wipe the bush on a paper towel to remove excess and make the brush dry. Repeat.  The bush should show the color of the paint but not have any liquid drops.  It must be a “dry” brush.  If in doubt, dry it more.
    4. Use the pounce technique, use the flat end of the brush and apply paint with an up and down motion.
    5. Use the Swirl technique: place the flat end of the brush on the surface with the handle straight up.  Move the brush in a circular motion.
    6. You control color in two ways. The amount of pressure applied on the brush and the number of times paint is applied. 
  4. Apply with a roller:
    1. We recommend a high-density foam roller for stenciling.
    2. Apply a small amount of paint on a roller tray or paper plate.
    3. Load the Roller: Roll roller into paint and roll out on tray to get an even load around the roller.  Repeat until the entire roller is coated and is even. 
    4. Dry the roller: Roll onto a paper towel to remove excess. The roller should not show any liquid drops on its surfaces and edges. If in doubt, make it drier. 
    5. Roll over the stencil with a light and steady pressure, insuring that the roller does not stray off the stencil.
    6. Repeat until you get the desired color.
  5. Apply aerosol spray paint:
    1. Protect area around the stencil by using paper and tape as it is hard to control where the spray paint will go.
    2. Test the spray can to ensure that it is producing a steady even aerosol but spraying on a piece of cardboard.
    3. Hold the can away from the project and spray a light coat on the appropriate area, holding the can at least 8 inches away from the surface and moving the can from side to side across the stencil. Working slowly down.
    4. Allow the coat to dry and repeat if more color is needed.
    5. This process is messier and trickier that the others, and I recommend doing a test on cardboard prior to trying the first time.
  6. Completing the stencil:
    1. Paint all desired graphics on the stencil
    2. You can use multiple colors on the same stencil. You can either do this by hand and allow the colors to mix naturally where they meet. Or to have more distinct color differences you can mask desired parts of the stencil with painter’s tape. 
    3. When the stencil is complete, gently pull up the stencil from one corner and lift straight up.
    4. If necessary, once the paint is dry on both stencil and surface you can reapply the stencil and add more color.
    5. Move the stencil to the next location.
  7. Cleaning the Stencil:
    1. As soon as you are finished we recommend getting brushes and stencils in water (for acrylic and water based paints) or solvents for oil based paints as soon as possible. The longer that it has time to dry, the more difficult it is to clean. 
    2. The easiest way to clean a stencil is to let it soak in water, (Hot is preferable) for 15-30 minutes. Longer if the paint is dried on.  Feel free to roll the stencil to get all of it in solvent. 
After it has soaked it will often either come up in sheets by hand or one can use a soft bristle brush, (like a stencil brush) to remove the paint.  Be careful with the smaller breaks in some stencils as they can break.  Also remember paint on the stencil does not hurt the stencil, you just do not want paint to start to clog the openings.

Here is a quick fundamental video to show you how to stencil without making a mess!