How to Paint With a Stencil and Get Professional Results

Stencils can be used to create a pattern on your walls or a beautiful graphic design on a flat canvas. Stenciling sounds easy enough, but it takes a lot of work, the right tools, and some practice. In this post, we’ll talk about the best ways to paint with stencils and get professional results.

Use the Right Tools

Below are some of the most useful tools for stenciling:

  • Dauber: A dauber is a round sponge with a flat bottom attached to a short dowel. This is what many people use to apply the paint inside a stencil.
  • Painter’s tape: Painter’s tape will help you keep the stencil in place and can also be used to mask off areas that you don’t want to be touched by paint.
  • Thick acrylic paint: Matte, eggshell or flat paint is usually the best kind of paint because it’s less runny than glossy paint. It’s important to use the thickest paint possible because thick paint is less likely to bleed beneath the stencil. If you’re stenciling the walls of your home, we recommend using Benjamin Moore’s “ben” paint, because it’s a good quality flat interior paint.

The other tools you need will depend on the surface that you’re painting. You may need rags, paper towels, a painter’s tray (if you’re stenciling a wall) or a palette (if you’re painting a canvas). If you’re stenciling a wall, you’ll also need all the usual tools for a wall painting project, including tarps, paint rollers and materials to repair the walls.

Reduce Bleed

Bleed is one of the biggest problem that people have when stenciling. Bleed is what happens when the paint runs out beneath the stencil and smudges the edges of the image. Some small amount of bleed is inevitable in almost any stenciling project, but most of it can be prevented if you follow these tips.

  • Keep your stencil locked into place. Use painter’s tape to hold the stencil down while you’re using the stencil.
  • Use an even, flat surface. Paint can leak out past the edges of the stencil if the surface being painted is rough or uneven. If you’re painting a wall, you can avoid problems by repairing holes and other blemishes before beginning the stenciling project.
  • Avoid stenciling on shiny surfaces. Matte surfaces are more porous and will absorb the paint more quickly, thus helping prevent bleed.
  • Avoid overloading the brushes. Loading the dauber or paintbrush with too much paint will allow some paint to gush out the sides of the stencil, resulting in bleed.
  • Keep the contrast low. High-contrast color combinations, like a white stencil on a black surface, will show bleed easily. Low contrast color combinations, like a light green stencil on dark green paint, will show very little bleed.
  • Work from the outside in. Paint the edges of each stencil first, then work your way into the middle of the stencil after coating the entire perimeter.

Use Best Practices During Application

Stenciling is a fairly straight forward process. Lay down the stencil, load the brush with paint, then dab the paint into the holes in the stencil. However, the following tips will help ensure good results:

  1. Do not saturate the dauber with a heavy coat of paint.
  2. Apply two or more thin layers of paint rather than applying one thick layer of paint.
  3. Give yourself lots of time to stencil, especially if you’re painting a large surface, like the walls of a room. Stenciling can be very time consuming.
  4. Practice stenciling before beginning a big stenciling project. This will help you develop a technique that works for you.

For more tips, take a look at this YouTube video online:

Contact Ace Paint and Unfinished Furniture

At Ace Paint and Unfinished Furniture, we have the tools you need to get your stenciling project under way! Stop in for paint brushes, tarps, rollers and more.