How To - FAQ's

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What is the purpose of registration marks on a stencil?

My stenciled designs are not crisp, but rather blurry and jagged. What am I doing wrong?

I would like to stencil a border at chair rail height. What is the correct height for a chair rail?

What is the best way to clean stencil brushes?

How do I prepare wood objects for stenciling?

How do I end a stencil design so that it ends perfectly at the corner of my room?

Will my stenciled designs need to be sealed or protected?

How can I add depth to my stenciled designs? I want them to look more life-like.

How do I stencil on fabric?

What is a laser stencil?

Before I begin to stencil, which side of the stencil should face the wall , the rough side or the smooth side?

What is the easiest way to remove my old wallpaper border before I begin my stenciling project?

Can I use stencil cremes on wood?

I am preparing to stencil a metal mailbox that will be placed outdoors. What type of paint do you suggest I use?

I will be stenciling a dresser that has been painted with an interior semi-gloss. Can I use semi- gloss paint on top of the semi- glossed surface or do I need to purchase acrylic paint?

I am thinking of stenciling an old porcelain sink. Do I need to use a special type of stencil or paint?

How do you stencil onto candles?

How do you use paint crayons to stencil?

What would I use to apply stencil registration marks to fabric?

How do I clean stencils?




FAQ graphic example

What is the purpose of registration marks on a stencil?

Registration marks can be part of the stencil design itself, a dotted line, hole or slot on the stencil that is used to align overlays. The first overlay is stenciled, and a pencil mark is made through all registration marks. The registration marks on successive overlays are used to align the designs.

FAQ graphic example

My stenciled designs are not crisp, but rather blurry and jagged. What am I doing wrong?

Stenciled 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 are made by both beginners and pros. Dip the tips of the bristles of your brush into the paint. Using a paper towel remove most of the paint from the brush by swirling the brush into the paper towel.

I would like to stencil a border at chair rail height. What is the correct height for a chair rail?

Most chair rails are usually between 32 and 36 inches from the floor.

What is the best way to clean stencil brushes?

The method with which you clean your brushes is highly dependent on the stencil paint you've chosen. If you are using acrylics and gels, soap and water followed by a thorough rinse should suffice. I have had excellent results with Dawn or Palmolive dishwashing liquid and warm water. I've had a few complaints from customers using stencil cremes, saying their brushes will not come clean with just soap and water. For those of you in this category, I would first recommend rubbing alcohol followed by Murphy's Oil Soap or mineral spirits. There are several brush cleaners on the market, but I've honestly never had to use them. Never soak your stencil brushes for long periods of time. Overnight soaking is not a good idea.

How do I prepare wood objects for stenciling?

If your wood is unfinished, sand first and then wipe with a moistened cloth to remove dust residue. Apply a stain or clear wood sealer (flat or satin finishes). Allow to dry and then proceed with stenciling. You may then apply an oil or waterbase finish after you have allowed your stencil paint to cure (usually 2-3 days). Follow manufacturer's instructions for cure time as well as finish application. Keep in mind that waterbase finishes rarely yellow surfaces, while oil-base polyurethane can. For pre-finished paneling: Wash to remove wax or dirt. If applying a glaze for a pickled look, test the color in an inconspicuous place. If the paneling has a glossy finish, paint may not adhere to it. In that case, paint paneling with a bonder/primer such as BIN or KILZ or with two coats of an oil-based eggshell paint. After stenciling, roll or brush on one or two coats of waterbase varnish for maximum scrubbability.

How do I end a stencil design so that it ends perfectly at the corner of my room?

Simply increase (or decrease) the space between the repeating elements of your border or design. Another option would be to place a coordinating design between the repeating elements, in such a way that increases (or decreases) the space needed to make your design end right before the corner. Obviously, if your border does not contain repeating elements, this would not be applicable. If you have a design that is continuous, you can try to extend (or shorten) various portions of the design to make it "fit".

Will my stenciled designs need to be sealed or protected?

Most stencil paints available today have proven to be very washable and durable and under normal use do not need extra protection. However, if your stenciled designs are exposed to excess traffic, wear and tear (kitchens or children's rooms) or the outdoor elements, we recommend that you use a more durable paint such as Plaid's Durable Colors or DecoArt's Patio Paint for these areas. These brands are weatherproof and waterproof and have proven to be excellent choices for outdoor or high humidity, or high traffic areas and do not require a sealer. Enamels may be a good choice and typically dry to a hard, washable surface and are fairly glossy. If you've already stenciled using the normal craft acrylics or gels and worry about your work, we suggest you protect your stenciling with a waterbase urethane for exterior use available at any Wal-Mart or hardware store. Allow your stenciling to cure for several days, then apply the sealer/finish according to the manufacturer's instructions. I've had great success with applying the finish with a roller, although others prefer a paint brush. Your choice.

How can I add depth to my stenciled designs? I want them to look more life-like.

You can do this by adding shadows using the same stencil. For example, if you wanted to place a shadow near leaf that you've already stenciled. Take your leaf stencil and trace on a piece of paper. Cut out the leaf. Place the cutout on top of your previously stenciled (dry) leaf and secure in place with a small piece of masking tape. Take your leaf stencil and place it just beyond your cutout, where you would like the shadow of the leaf to fall. Stencil this "shadow" portion using a shade of gray.

FAQ graphic example

How do I stencil on fabric?

Before stenciling fabric, wash and dry fabric according to label instructions. This will remove the sizing (chemical coating) in new fabric. If this sizing is not removed, your stencil paint will not bond well with the fabric. Place a piece of cardboard under the layer of fabric being stenciled. This is to prevent bleed-through to other parts of the fabric. Secure your stencil in place with low tack masking tape. Load your brush and stencil. Apply several light applications of paint, instead of one thick application. Allow fabric to dry for at least 48 hours or according to manufacturer's instructions. Some fabric paints (and stencil cremes) need up to two weeks for the paint to cure. Curing for other paints require heat application ins some form, either by covering the stenciled area with a cloth and applying the heat with an iron or the clothes dryer. Check the manufacturer's instructions for proper heat setting and laundering instructions.

What is a laser stencil?

A laser stencil is simply a stencil design that has been cut by a laser beam. Laser stencils are typically on slightly thinner mylar than other stencils. They are still very durable but a little more care needs to be taken when cleaning or handling the stencil.

Before I begin to stencil, which side of the stencil should face the wall , the rough side or the smooth side?

You may use it either way, however, it's probably best to place the rough side against the wall to prevent shifting.

What is the easiest way to remove my old wallpaper border before I begin my stenciling project?

Simply peel away what you can and then the rest of the border can be removed by mixing liquid fabric softener with hot water (about one cup fabric softener to a gallon of hot water). Just mix up the fabric softener and water, take a sponge and thoroughly saturate it with the solution and "wash" the area of border that didn't come off. Wait a few minutes and then take a scraper and remove.

Can I use stencil cremes on wood?

Yes you can. However, the color will not be as bold if the wood has been stained. Stencil cremes work best on unfinished or painted wood.

I am preparing to stencil a metal mailbox that will be placed outdoors. What type of paint do you suggest I use?

We recommend No-Prep Metal Paint by DecoArt. There are a variety of colors to choose from , no primer or varnish required and it is easy to clean up. We do suggest though that you do a sample design first to test for colorfastness.

I will be stenciling a dresser that has been painted with an interior semi-gloss. Can I use semi- gloss paint on top of the semi- glossed surface or do I need to purchase acrylic paint?

You can go right ahead and use the semi-gloss paint. No need to use acrylics.

I am thinking of stenciling an old porcelain sink. Do I need to use a special type of stencil or paint?

You can use any type of stencil however you will have to use a paint especially designed for porcelain surfaces. We recommend Porcelaine 150. Porcelain paint does have to be fired or baked in the oven. With the Porcelaine 150 paints you can bake them in the oven at 300 degrees for 35 minutes and then allow them 24 hours drying time. They come in a variety of colors and are soap and water washable before baking. You can find out more about these paints at www.pebeo.com.

How do you stencil onto candles?

We recommend combining equal parts of our Apple Barrel Acrylic paint with DecoArt's Candle Painting Medium. The candle medium will allow the acrylic paint to adhere to the candle without running or separating.

How do you use paint crayons to stencil?

You would remove the seal from the end of the crayon using a wiping motion with a paper towel. Apply a circular spot of paint onto an uncut part of the stencil you are using. This will serve as a palette for you to swirl your brush in. Apply paint to your brush and begin stenciling.

What would I use to apply stencil registration marks to fabric?

We use a quilter's marking pen. It has a disappearing purple ink and it disappears in approximately 48 hours, giving you plenty of time to complete your project. These pens also work great on walls.

How do I clean stencils?

Cleaning stencils depends largely upon what type of paint you are using and what material the stencil is made from. If you are using acrylic paint and typical mylar stencils (plastic), try dabbing or wiping gently with a baby wipe, soaking in warm sudsy water, or nail polish remover (acetone type). Some professionals have suggested an overnight soak in Simple Green found at your hardware store or Wal-Mart. If you are still having difficulty, try rubbing alcohol. If you are using stencil cremes, simply take a paper towel or other soft cloth and gently wipe the stencil clean. Baby wipes also work great. An overnight soaking in Simple Green might help as well. One of the best ways to keep your stencil cleaning easy, is to never allow the stencil to sit for long period covered with dried stencil paint. As soon as you begin to see a little build up around the edges, or before you pack the stencil away, give the stencil a thorough but gentle cleaning

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