SIMPLE WALL STENCILING TECHNIQUE USING A DENSE FOAM STENCIL ROLLER
These Stenciling instructions will take you step-by-step through your project. Please read them all before you start your project! Refer to the Tool checklist (at the end on the Instructions) to gather your supplies.
Very important: Work out your technique and color combinations on a sample board first. It is always a good idea to make a sample. Use a wall in the garage, a piece of cardboard, or even old pizza box as your sample surface. Make sure you like your color combinations and are comfortable with your stenciling technique before hitting the real wall!
Make sure your walls are clean, dust free and in good condition. Any cracks or chips should be repaired: filled, primed and painted prior to stenciling. All base coats should be fully dried for at least 24 hours prior to stenciling.
Position your stencil on a wall where you like it, and tape it to the wall with few pieces of low tack blue painters tape. (We love using Scotch Blue 2Ē painters tape.) Do not use regular white masking tape, itís way too sticky for most painted surfaces and will likely pull off the base paint when you remove your stencil.
If your stencil needs to be perfectly vertical or horizontal, use a bubble level to help with positioning. This step is not necessary for organic looking designs like branches etc. Simply place them where you like them.
Now pour some acrylic or latex paint on a foam plate or a paint tray. You donít need much, about 2-3 tablespoons of paint is enough to start with.
Get your dense foam roller ready.
Load your foam roller by rolling it over the paint few times until it absorbs most or all of it. There should be no visible paint on a roller surface, it should look almost dry. Use only dense foam rollers with rounded edges, sold in hardware and paint stores.
Now blot off the excess paint on a folded paper towel by rolling it back and forth a couple times. Remember, itís better to have less paint on your roller, than too much paint. OK, now youíre ready to stencil!
Roll the stencil with your roller using medium pressure. Excessive pressure may cause paint bleeding under the stencil. Be careful not to roll over the outside edges of the stencil! We design most of our stencils with at least 1Ē frame to give you some rolling room. Also, placing blue masking tape on the narrowest edges can help prevent ďroll-oversĒ.
You can easily check how youíre doing by carefully un-taping and lifting one corner of the stencil and taking a peek. Do you like what you see? Is it enough pressure or it can use a little more paint? If itís too pale, just put the stencil back and roll it a couple more times back and forth, or slightly add more pressure. When stenciling lighter colors over darker colors, you may need 2 coats to achieve good coverage. Let the 1st coat dry for a couple of minutes and then roll the stencil again.
Now remove the stencil and enjoy your artwork! A note for the impatient: donít just yank the taped stencil off the wall! Itís always a good idea to do it somewhat slowly so the blue tape doesnít accidentally pull off any background paint.
Continue stenciling by re-positioning your design until all walls/repeats are done. No need to clean the stencil in between uses. Each stencil is good for many, many repeats before it will need to be cleaned. If you need to switch colors, make sure that the previous color has completely dried on the stencil so it will not resolve and transfer to a new repeat.
We recommend a separate foam roller for each color. But you certainly can use the same roller. Just wash it by squeezing it under running water and make sure it is pretty dry before your next use. Otherwise youíll get some serious messy seepage underneath the stencil.
You can also use stencil brushes to stencil your design, although it is much, much faster with a roller. But for smaller, more intricate designs or multi-color and shaded designs itís actually much better to use a stencil brush. Youíll need to dedicate a separate brush for each color youíre going to use. To load your brush with paint, simply squeeze a dollop of acrylic paint onto a foam plate or a paint tray, then dab your brush in it taking care not to over-load it. Then, distribute the paint on a brush tip by doing a few circles on a foam plate. Now, lightly rub off some paint on a folded paper towel, and youíre ready to stencil. You brush should have very little paint on it, less paint is better for stenciling!
Itís best to use a dabbing motion with your brush, just pounce all over the stencil, trying to cover all of the design. You can pounce lightly or pretty vigorously, lighter pouncing will result in more subtle coverage. Add colors/shading by pouncing with a different color on top of the previous one, for example the flower head can have 2-3 shades of blue, darker around the edges and lighter in the middle. Just make sure to avoid a sweeping motion, since that can force the paint to go under the stencil. A swirling circular motion is fine too. Itís great for shading, but again, avoid a direct sweeping motion towards the edges of the openings so your paint wonít get ďsweptĒ underneath and make a mess.
A word or two about bridges. Bridges are the small sections of the stencil pattern that have been left in to help hold the stencil together. Some people like to paint over the bridges/gaps when the stenciling is complete. Doing this can sometimes improve the look, but is not necessary, and with some designs like this Wheel it is actually not desired. In general, we try to design our stencils in such a way that bridges blend with the flow of the design and are not too obvious, or in a way that they contribute to the design. If they still bother you and you want to make them go away, simply paint over them with a small artist brush.
About spray adhesives: Yes, you can use them with stencils, but we personally donít like them. The pros: the stencil sticks to the wall very securely without any tape, and the seepage will be minimal, even with a sweeping brush motion or excessive pressure with a roller. The cons: Sometimes particles of adhesive transfer to the wall and mess it up with sticky residue. This can happen if youíve sprayed too much adhesive and didnít let it dry a little bit before putting the stencil on the wall. Also, the fumes are toxic and unhealthy for you and your family. And lastly, the stencil will end up sticky and gooey, and itís no fun to clean and store them after youíre done with your project.
In our 20+ years of stenciling we find that blue tape is all you need, really. Our material is sturdy and thick and will cling to the wall, so youíll not have much seepage with our stencils. The only time youíll have to use a spray adhesive is when working with ceiling stencils: Yes, the gravity works against us and pieces of blue tape may simply not do the trick. Lightly mist (not drench!) the stencil with well-shaken spray adhesive (preferably outside and far away from other objects), let it dry for a minute, then place the stencil on a ceiling or wall. Itís good for 1-3 placements, then it will need to be re-misted.
Corners: First, donít be intimidated. Corners are no big deal if you follow our instructions. For best results tape and paint one wall at a time. Secure half of the stencil in place leaving the other half unattached. Roll it straight into the corner ( or use your brush), then carefully un-tape the finished half while holding the stencil in place with your hands. Now secure other half with tape and roll that half into the corner, then remove the stencil. Donít worry about filling every little bit of design right inside the corner crease: somehow the eye fills the gaps and makes it look complete even if there are some unfinished spotsÖ Just step aside and take a look. See what I mean? Optical illusion! It always seem to work somehow. A couple more corner tips: Taping the stencil to both walls at once usually does not produce good results. Using spray adhesive may help with holding a large stencil in place, although we personally prefer just to use blue masking tape. For small random designs, it is best to avoid placing them directly into the corners.
Mistakes: usually itís enough to just wipe off a fresh mistake with a wet cloth, baby wipe or moist q-tip.It is always a good idea to have some basecoat paint at hand in case you need to correct bigger mistakes, or mistakes that have already dried. In this case, just roll or sponge over a dry mistake with your basecoat paint, (you may need 1 or 2 coats), and let it dry completely. Now youíre ready to re-stencil the area.
Cleaning and Storage: The stencil will eventually accumulate a thick layer of paint after many repeats, so it will have to be cleaned. You can let it dry completely and simply peel off the paint skin, or you can give it a brief soaking in a tray or tub of water and then wash off the paint. Best cleaning method: place the stencil on a flat surface, like a large baking tray, and scrub it with a dish cleaning brush under running water. The paint comes right off, and the stencil doesnít get entangled or damaged this way. Please donít let pieces of paint go down the drain. Itís bad for your plumbing and for the environment! Always insert a mesh strainer into the drain hole and then shake off the paint residue into a trash can.
After the stencil is clean, place it on paper towels to dry, and pat it with a roll of paper towels to speed up the drying process. For a large or commercial project it may be smart to purchase 2 or even 3 stencils to save time on cleaning. This allows you to keep going and do one big clean-up in the end. Store your stencils flat, in large drawers if you have them, or under the bed interlaced with newspapers. Alternatively, you can hang them clipped to a close hanger. Donít store them rolled, unless itís the only option. Our stencil material will un-curl and lay flat, but it will need few hours for that.
Cleaning brushes: Brushes are best cleaned under running water using a special cleaning tool (see pic.) which helps to get out all the paint particles. Add a drop of Murphy Oil soap for better cleaning and conditioning of your brush bristles, but any soap will do as well.
Repairs: If you accidentally broke one of the ď bridgesĒ in the design while stenciling, you can easily fix it by attaching small pieces of clear packing tape on both sides.
When you need to take a break from stenciling in the middle of the project, just cover your paint tray with a plastic wrap, and tightly wrap a piece of plastic or foil around the roller to prevent the paint from drying up.
When youíre ready to re-decorate, simply roll 2 coats of basecoat paint over your stenciling and itís gone.
* Sample board
* Latex or acrylic paints, including some basecoat paint
* Dense foam roller with rounded ends
* Paint tray or a large styrofoam plate
* Low tack painterís tape
* Bubble level or laser level
* Paper towels or rag, cleaning tools & soap