Some of the most asked questions I get on stencils are:
“What are your favourite stencil brushes?”
“How do I stencil without paint bleed?”
“What’s the best way to clean stencils?”
“Which paint do you use on fabric?”
… and so much more.
How to stencil, my fav supplies, how to store, how to clean, what to make, where to purchase these stencils, and more!
Ready to learn big today? Here we go!
Everything you need to know about stencilling
About these stencils
First off, this post features my own line of stencils.
I personally design Funky Junk’s Old Sign Stencils. They are market sign themed and patterned stencils made from a high quality 10 mil mylar.
I’m a 20 year sign maker by trade. So when I started creating old signs for my own home, readers desired to make the same designs. Hence… the stencils were born! So now you can make the signs I make too!
We ship worldwide from Canada.
* This post “Everything you need to know about stencilling” contains some affiliate links in which I earn a small percentage if you purchase anything through these links, at no extra cost to you. Thank-you for helping to support my blog!
As with any hobby, you’ll want to stock some basic supplies.
I suggest to gather these things up, and have them all nearby before you start. There is nothing quite like having to run alllllll the way upstairs, while juggling four invaluable stencil brushes threatening to dry up on you…
good lighting – natural light is best
a work table
a big roll of paper to protect surfaces
something flat-ish to pour paint into
something to off load paint from the brush (rag or plank of wood)
container of water
other specialty paint brushes
a box of plastic sandwich bags (to store wet paint brushes)
plastic wrap (for wet paint brushes or to cover trays)
high density sponge roller – useful for glass
measuring tape and pencil
scissors – helpful to reduce the footprint of the outer stencil in tight areas
stencil spray adhesive – optional
paint of choice (I use Fusion Mineral Paint)
storage means for stencils (I created a trolly you will see below)
storage for paint supplies nearby
How to stencil
Stencilling is actually very easy. However in order to achieve exceptional results, a little practice comes into play.
The most common issue is bleeding underneath the stencil. This is due to too much paint applied.
The key for super sharp lines is using VERY little paint. Your stencil brush once fully loaded should feel dry-to-the-touch.
How to stencil:
1. Pour your paint onto a flat surface of choice.
2. Dip your brush into the paint, then off-load most paint onto a surface, such as a rag. Your brush should be dry-to-the-touch.
3. Position your stencil, then tap up and down on the stencil with your brush. You can also ‘swirl’ the brush if your brush is dry enough.
Learn more about How to stencil HERE
Favorite stencil brushes
One of my fav things to shop for are a variety of brushes to try for stenciling.
I collect many which aren’t even meant to stencil with! One of my favs is a wax brush.
I suggest to collect all sizes and types and try them out.
And if you can find dome-tipped, try them! I like how the slightly rounded edges allow more paint to hit the surface at different strengths vs. one big flat tap.
My two personal favorite stencil brushes are:
Quality features to consider:
- Tips flat to very slightly curved
- Brush slightly flexible – bristle brushes (vs. synthetic) are best for stenciling
- Comfortable handle
- Collect various sizes ranging from small to x-large
Fav Stencil Brush hack:
Before you stencil, you may desire to coat your surface first.
For this reason, I stock several different brushes.
The most important part is quality. If you get quality stuff, your work just turns out better, and the brush lasts longer.
Tip: An all synthetic brush may offer the least amount of brush strokes.
Masking tape is needed to hold your stencil in place. For that reason, a low grade is all that’s really needed.
But it also comes in handy for other things, such as painting lines. Here’s where you want more of a specialty painter’s grade tape so the paint won’t bleed underneath.
I stock both cheap and good stuff, then use accordingly.
Tip: The Martha Stewart blue tape is exceptional for no-bleed lines!
Nearly any paint can be used for stencilling. But the more opaque, the less paint you will require.
What paint you chose can also depend on what surface you are painting.
Wood, glass, fabric, indoor, outdoor all play a part in choosing.
The paint I use:
I personally use Fusion Mineral Paint today. It’s super durable, requires no added top coat, and is suitable for most surfaces, including fabric, glass and metal. It’s also outdoor durable.
Here are Fusion’s main perks:
- requires little to no prep work
- built in top-coat
- great indoors and out
- matte finish
- very durable
- use it for coating out pieces AND stencilling
- excellent for fabric
- exceptional for stencilling wood
How to purchase Fusion:
Clean your stencils – yes or no?
Personally, I don’t clean my stencils.
But for photography purposes, I do stock 2 of each. One to use, and one for photos.
I use to clean stencils when I first started stencilling, but I found the more cleaning they got, the more risk of damage they came in contact with.
So today, I do not clean. I run my finger against the cut edges to remove any paint build-up, then let them air dry.
However if I conducted workshops frequently, I’d consider cleaning them due to being used repeatedly to ensure those sharp edges are maintained.
Here are some cleaning tips if you prefer to clean yours…
Cleaning tips: (tried and true methods by those that clean)
* After stenciling, soak the stencil in hot water until there’s time to clean.
* Spray Simple Green on the stencil, then gently rub off the paint as the solution starts to work.
* Stock baby wipes for a quick clean.
Spray adhesive – yes or no?
I personally don’t use stencil adhesive. But I sure did when I first started!
When I first started stencilling, I had trouble getting the lines looking super crisp. For this reason, I’d spray a light coat of spray adhesive on the back of the stencil, allow it to tack up a bit, then stencil.
The adhesive makes it so little to no paint bleed occurs so crisp lines are achieved.
But with a little practice over time, you will not require the adhesive. The key is using a super dry to the touch paint loaded brush.
Suggested tips with stencil adhesive:
- Lightly mist under the stencil.
- Allow it to set / tack-up before using.
- Leave adhesive on the back to dry, then hang stencil to store to keep clean, as adhesive attracts dust.
Stencil storage ideas
Hang, or flat? Which is best?
I’d say it’s dependent on how often you reach for stencils, how visual you like them to be, and what kind of space you have.
I myself prefer stencils to hang in full view so they are easy to select through.
Here are a few ways I’ve stored my stencils:
- A plank of wood attached to the wall with nails
- Standing coat rack with nail hooks
- Stencil Trolley – pictured above
- Ladder and plank storage
- Simple DIY stencil ladder
Check out the cool wooden racks I found on Amazon below… swoon!
Paint and brush storage ideas
I find it handy to have paint and brushes stored near the stencils. Therefore, I created what I call a paint station. It’s basically a work table with two shelves, housing all my paint and brush supplies.
Here are a few of my favourite storage methods to date:
Stencil projects to make
Need some stencil ideas on what to make? Boy can I help there!
Being that this is my own line of stencils, I use them in many of my own projects, therefore have quite a library of projects that are creative and easy to make!
Visit stencil project ideas below 2 ways:
Whether you are a novice, or professional, one that resells the stencils, or creates merchandise to sell with them, there is now a place for everyone to play!
Join our Facebook group, What I made with Old Sign Stencils, so you can share YOUR creations with us!
Hope to see you there! 🙂
If you wish to stay current with my newest stencil designs or repurposed projects, there are several ways to do so…
Subscribe to daily blog posts HERE
This will send you out a prompt in your inbox the next AM. Most thorough and current of all!
Sign up to subscribe to Old Signs Newsletter HERE – periodic
Get alerted with new stencil design releases, new projects, and more!.
Follow on Facebook
Follow on Instagram
– – – – –
Whew. That was some post. I think I got it all.
But if this post didn’t answer everything you need to know about stencilling for yourself, feel free to leave questions in comments below. I will answer them, and possibly even add an FAQ to this post if needed.
Thanks for your visit, and happy stencilling to all!
Find all my stencil projects HERE