How to Stencil -A Basic Guide in 4 Steps

-Gather Your Supplies
1) Stencils!
2) Acrylic paint, metallic paint, or whatever you would like to stencil with
3) Stencil brush(es) or foam roller(s)
4) Repositionable adhesive spray or blue painter’s tape
5) Paint tray or styrofoam plate
6) Cleaning supplies: paper towels and liquid soap

– Preparation
1) Clean the surface you’ll be stenciling : Whether you’re stenciling a wall, a
backpack, or your dining room table, clean the surface and make sure
it’s free of debris. If you’re stenciling a wall that’s a little beat up, you
might want to sand it first and fill in any cracks.

2) Optional: Apply a base coat of paint : If you would like to apply a base
coat of paint, this is the point in the process to do it, and then allow 24
hours for the paint to dry. There are many situations, however, where a
base coat is not necessary. If you’re at all unsure, just ask us!

3) Stencil placement : Where exactly would you like to position your
stencil? Position your stencil and hold it in place with either painter’s
tape or repositionable adhesive spray.

4) Get your paint and stencil brushes/foam rollers ready : Pour a few
tablespoons of paint onto your paint tray or styrofoam plate and have
the paper towels nearby. Put some paint on your stencil brush or foam
roller and—this is important—blot the excess paint onto the paper
towels. Remember, when it comes to stenciling, LESS paint is
BEST! This will help to keep the paint from bleeding over when you

1) When to use a stencil brush : It is best to use stencil brushes for
stencils that are smaller and/or have more detail, and it is also
preferable to use a stencil brush if you plan to stencil more than one
color. If you’ll be stenciling with more than one color, make sure to have
more than one stencil brush. Quick tip: You’ll get the best results by
using a circular or dabbing motion.

2) Using a foam roller : Stenciling with a foam roller is simple and
significantly fasterthan using a stencil brush. The key is to make sure
you’re not pressing too hard. Like we discussed earlier, less paint is
best. Quick tip: Make sure to not paint outside of the plastic
stencil material. Some people like to use a little extra painter’s
tape so they have a larger “free” area and less clean up to do
later on.

3) Check your progress : While you’re stenciling, pull back the stencil to
check on your progress at least once. When you’re all done applying the
paint, pull the stencil off the surface slowly and carefully.

-Cleaning and Caring for your Stencil
1) How often should I clean my stencil? If you’ll be using your stencil once
or twice during a project, you’ll want to clean the stencil when the
project is complete. If you’ll be using the same stencil many times
during a project, it’s best to clean the stencil once every several uses so
that the paint doesn’t cake up.

2) How do I clean it? There are many ways to clean your stencil. Some
people like to simply peel the paint off once the stencil is dry, and some
like to soak their stencils and then wash off the paint. Others like to use
a paint thinner. Once you’ve cleaned your stencil, lay it flat to dry.

3) After cleaning : When you’re all done with your project and the stencil is
clean, store it in a place where you can keep the stencil flat. Our
stencils are made from a durable, flexible type of plastic mylar material,
and with proper care they last for many years.


How-To Cut Stencils By Hand – Using An X-Acto Knife
The experts here at StencilsOnline can laser cut your custom stencils with amazing detail, but if you prefer to cut your own stencils by hand, follow the steps below to get professional results.


X-acto knife & new blades
Blank mylar stencil material (7.5 mil recommended)
Sharpie marker (fine-tip)
Hard/flat cutting surface (glass or cutting mat)


1. Print or draw desired stencil pattern on paper using dark ink

2. Place the blank stencil material over the print and trace an outline of what to cut out onto the stencil material. Use a fine-tip Sharpie for this.

(You may wish to use a light box or hold the paper and stencil material against a window)

You can skip the above step by placing the design below the material, however you need to ensure that the stencil pattern is firmly adhered to the blank mylar material or the material will slip while you are cutting.

3. Place your stencil material with the outlined design on a hard and flat surface (glass or a cutting mat work best)

4. Hold the knife like you are holding a pen. Using LIGHT PRESSURE, cut along the pattern you have traced on the stencil material.

TIPS from the pros for best results

Start off with a new blade in your knife
Change blades frequently
Do not apply a lot of pressure to the knife while cutting
Cut away from corners not into them
Turn the stencil material, not your hand
Use a quality stencil film

Alternative method: You can use an electric stencil burner instead of an x-acto knife. The stencil burner, however, may leave a melted ridge on the stencil. This may sacrifice some quality of your finished product.