Stencilling is a quick and easy way of adding style to furniture. If you’ve never done any stencilling before, it can be quite intimidating, but it really is quite easy, so we’ll show you the basics to help you get started.

The key is choosing the stencilling method that fits your project best. Whether you want art deco, or a shabby chic look, stencils are great for decorating your furniture 

I have never used a stencil

It is always a good idea to test your stencilling technique and colour selections before starting your project. You can test your stencil and colours on a sample board like cardboard, a sheet of ply even a pizza box would work. You’ll need to base coat the sample material in the same paint as your project, then you can do a few prints to get comfortable with your technique.

Do I have to use a stencil brush?

These types of brushes are specially designed for stencilling. A stencil brush looks like a regular round brush, but the difference is the flat top. This allows you to dab and swirl the paint over the stencil and avoids the paint from seeping underneath.the stencil. If you try stencilling with a regular brush you’ll get a very messy result, due to the wrong shape. The flat top of the stencil brush is key.

How do I use a stencil brush?

Using a stencil brush works great for shading and also for tight edges and corners. Select your stencil brush size based on the size of the stencil openings. In general, the smaller the stencil openings – the smaller the brush and vice versa. 

Pour your paint onto a tray and dip the stencil brush into the paint (only about 1/8″) and then swirl it on the tray to evenly distribute the paint into the bristle tips. 

Offload the excess paint onto some folded paper towels the brush should appear almost dry. Use a light swirling motion for a softer look and for shading. Try to avoid any  sweeping motion towards the edges of the stencil openings, it can force the paint under the stencil. 

What surfaces can I stencil on?

Smooth surfaces are always best. The results are crisper as there is less chance of paint bleeding under the stencil. You can use a stencil on most surfaces such as, walls, fabrics, furniture, floors, tiles and so on. 

What are the techniques used to apply paint to a stencil?

Circular: Use a circular stroke to achieve an evenly shaded print. Move the loaded brush in a clockwise direction, focusing on the outside edge of the cut-out area. The circular stroke is recommended when using a dry brush paint.

Pouncing: A pounced stroke is ideal for beginners, as it will not readily cause a smudged print. Apply the paint in an up-and-down pouncing motion. The more you pounce, the more solid or opaque the print will become.

Sweeping: Use a back-and-forth sweeping stroke to create a directional print. This stroke is especially effective in large cut out areas, or when using a flat stencil brush.  Caution – too much paint on the brush can result in a brush-under smudge.

How do I stop the stencil from moving? 

Masking tape: When stencilling furniture, always use a low tack painters’ tape, avoid masking over freshly painted surfaces as the tape can pull the paint up. Burnish (rub down) the edge of the tape for a cleaner line. Always remove your masking tape slowly, pulling it at an angle.

Spray adhesive: A spray adhesive for the purpose of stencilling is called a “repositionable adhesive”. If a stencil is delicate, or has large cut outs, spray adhesive can help to hold the stencil in place but it is not necessary to use adhesive spray if tape is your preference.

Reusable Adhesive Putty: Ideal for holding furniture stencils in place, the paint must be thoroughly dry and not freshly painted.

My stencilled designs are  blurry and jagged. What am I doing wrong? 

Stencilled designs that are not crisp usually mean that you are overloading your brush. Loading your brush with too much paint is by far the most common mistake that is made by both beginners and pros.

Do I need to put a protective coat on my stencil design?

In most cases you’ll want to protect your newly stencilled furniture with a clear topcoat. Depending on where the stencil has been applied you can either seal it with Soul Decor Finishing Wax or for more durability in high traffic areas, we recommend a water based clear coat like Soul Decor Varnish. Apply 2-3 coats for best results.

How do I clean a stencil?

Your stencil should always be cleaned after each project, but it does not have to be cleaned after each repeat unless there is a noticeable accumulation of paint. 

How do I store a stencil? 

We recommend placing your clean stencils between 2 pieces of paper or cardboard and storing them on a flat surface.

Tips & Tricks 

Make sure your surface is ready. Clean and scuff sand (just enough to give your paint something to hold on to) your surfaces to prepare for painting then paint in the base color of your choice. Be sure to make sure each layer of paint is dry before placing your stencil down. Your patience will be rewarded!

If you want the stencil pattern to go over multiple surfaces, be sure to line them up before securing the stencil. Make marks as needed to keep your design lined up over all surfaces.

Give the back of the stencil an even coat of spray adhesive to keep it in place while applying your paint as well as to prevent any seepage. You can also use painter’s tape to keep the stencil from moving. Our Stick n Style stencils are already adhesive and can be used multiple times without losing their adhesions.

For larger pieces a sponge roller as It holds a good amount of paint without becoming over-saturated which prevents seepage and applies an even coat.

When removing your stencil, pull straight up to prevent smearing your paint.

Did you make a mistake? Never fear, with a quick response most mistakes can be easily remedied. Little spots of seepage can be touched up with a small brush. Wet paint can be wiped away with a damp cloth and a fresh coat of base paint can get your project back to square one. Even the “worst-case scenarios” can be fixed with a quick sanding and coat of paint.

Did you know you can use mediums other than paint? Try decor wax for some glam or if you want a bit of texture a thick layer of chalk paste can create a raised design.

To protect your design seal with your favorite top coat

Basic Stencil Application 

Step 1.

Always ensure you have a clean surface. If you are using a small stencil you can just hold it down with your hand. However, for larger projects, we suggest using either some painters tape or stencil adhesive 

Step 2.

We recommend using a brush made for stencilling. Load a little bit of paint on the tip of your brush and then dab it dry on a paper towel or a piece of cardboard. 

One of the most important things to keep in mind with stencilling is that you want to use a brush that is almost dry.

Step 3.

When applying paint to your stencil you can either pounce the brush lightly, or use a light swirl, a technique we think works best with a brush.

Make sure you don’t apply too much pressure. It’s better to slowly build up your paint coat (3-4 coats) and take your time. As you want to avoid bleeding underneath the stencil. 

Step 4.

Immediately after applying paint, carefully remove the stencil, if there is a bit of bleed through that you don’t like, you can take a small artist brush to touch it up. 

Wait until the paint is dry then seal your piece with Soul Decor Finishing Wax or   Soul Decor Varnish.