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10 Tips for Stenciling

Practical stenciling tips for professional results.

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Stencils allow you to reproduce a pattern or design over and over again, as many times as you like. These tips will help you get good results.

Stenciling Tip 1: Use a Professional Tool
Stencilling brushes are round with short, stiff bristles. Use it in a quick up-and-down movement to dab paint onto your stencil. This helps prevent paint getting under the edges. A sponge or small roller works well too.

Stenciling Tip 2: Work from The Outside

Start panting on the edges of the stencil, working into the centre, rather than from the centre outwards. Again this helps prevent paint getting under the edges as you're less likely to accidentally bump the brush against an edge.

Stenciling Tip 3: Less is More
Don't overload a brush with paint as it'll seep under the edges of the stencil. Load the brush lightly, so that the ends of the bristles are covered evenly; wipe off any excess on a piece of paper or cloth.

Stenciling Tip 4: Think Thin
You'll get better results by applying two thin coats rather than one thick one. Wait for the first to dry before applying the second.

Stenciling Tip 5: Get Sticky
Keep a stencil in place by taping it at the top and bottom with a piece of tape. Low-tack tape is best as it's very easy to remove and shouldn't pull off any paint from the surface.

Stenciling Tip 6: Go Multi-Colored
To use more than one color in a stencil, use tape to mask off areas of the stencil you don't want in a particular color.

Stenciling Tip 7: Practise Makes Perfect
If you're using various stencils together, first try it out on a piece of paper. It's far easier to find out that something isn't working at this stage and then correct it than when you're painting on your final surface.

Stenciling Tip 8: X-rated Stencils
Old x-rays are great for cutting stencils, so if you're unfortunate to need some, don't throw them away.

Stenciling Tip 9: Wash Regularly
Not you, your stencil! If you're doing a repeat design, wash your stencil regularly in warm water to keep the edges free of paint. If there's some paint on an edge, you won't get a crisp edge to your painted stencil. As paper stencils don't lend themselves to washing, acetate stencils are better for repeat designs. With a paper or card stencil, wipe off the excess paint, then leave the stencil for a bit so the paint on it dries, before using it again.

Stenciling Tip 10: Store stencils Flat
A stencil, obviously, needs to be flat to be usable. To stop it from buckling, put it between two pieces of card and store it somewhere flat, such as in a book or telephone directory.

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