Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ask the Audience: How to Stencil

Today I'm phoning a friend - all of you! How the heck do you successfully stencil?

I've seen plenty of beautiful stencil projects, and all of you make it look so easy - but it isn't! I recently purchased a Herringbone stencil and set out with awesome intentions on my DIY Herringbone Pillow Cover (which didn't turn out the way I'd hoped), as well as the back panel of our DIY Built-in Shoe Shelf.


Stenciling back of Bookcase
Stenciling Close Up

Like I said, it's not as easy as y'all make it look! So someone help me out. How do you get your stenciling projects to look so perfect?

I followed the instructions provided by the stencil company. Did I have too much paint on my roller? I didn't think so at the time, but maybe? Should I not be using a roller? But when I used a paint brush for the pillow cover, that didn't work either.

I'm in love with the look of a patterned wall, so I'd love any advice you could give me! Who has some success stories?

On another note (now that I've shared with you how incompetent I am with a stencil) it's time for Apartment Therapy's Homie awards!

The Homies
Thank you to whoever nominated us, and continues to vote for us! While we know that our four votes will in no way compete with those blogs at the top of the list, I'd love for any of you out there that LOVE Home Coming as much as I do, to throw us a vote!

Vote here by clicking on the +1 button to the left of our name. If the button isn't there, you just need to sign up for an Apartment Therapy account - but don't worry! They won't send you spam or a daily newsletter if you don't want them to.

Every vote counts. Thanks everyone!

Linking up to: Give Me The Goods Monday, Make it Pretty Monday, Motivate Me MondayMonday Funday, That DIY Party, Mod Mix Monday, Tuesdays at Our Home, Remodelaholic, Time to SparkleWork It Wednesday, Simply Create Thursdays, Sunday Best, Inspire Me Please Creativity Unleashed, The Humble Brag, Friday Flash Blog, Lovely Ladies LinkyWow Us Wednesday,  Making Monday, Before and Afters,  Pincentive Blog Hop, Wow Me Wednesday,  Inspiration Gallery,  Feathered Nest Friday,  The Party Bunch, Link it or Lump it,  Frugal Crafty Home Party, It's a Party, Worthwhile Wednesday's, The Makers, Do Tell Tuesdays


  1. I've done my fair share of stenciling projects. I have always used a roller and I first put paint on my roller and then roll it on a paper plate to get as much paint off as possible. I found that the paint looks best if I use the roller in an X pattern for the best coverage. Have you tried a foam roller?

    Lauren @ Simply The Sims

  2. Hmm...have you tried using a light coat of spray adhesive on the back of the stencil first? I used that when I stenciled on fabric and it worked really well to keep the lines crisp. I didn't do it every time I moved the stencil, but maybe every couple of moves. I used a little mini foam roller (one of the 6" ones that are about 1" diameter) and it worked just fine. I too got all the excess paint off my roller first. Hope that helps!

  3. I usually spray a light coat of spray adhesive on the back and really rub to get it to stick.

  4. Sorry, but yes. You used too much paint. Stenciling is a dry brush technique, and you really need to offload paint after working it into your brush or roller. Spray adhesive is messy (and smelly) but can help prevent run unders, especially for beginners. If you're using a roller, make sure it's one of the dense foam type. If you're using a brush, a real stencil brush is your best bet. I always recommend practicing on something like a piece of posterboard before trying it on your project.

  5. As others have noted you've got too much paint on the brush/roller to start. For a hard surface an actual stencil brush works best. Go to you tube and you'll find videos of how to do it.

    As far as stenciling fabric like the pillow case you need to use a layer of cardboard behind the fabric and stretch and tape the fabric around the cardboard so it can't shift under the stencil. I usually don't recommend the temporary spray adhesives but in this case I would.

    Search you tube for videos and watch them. Practice on scrap wood or fabric, always, before you go to the real thing.

    Just an observation but that stencil is quite intricate (small) to get a good finish, especially on fabric and if stenciling is new to you.

  6. I never tried these tactics before guys, seems like I’m learning how to be creative in such area. I have tried a different design, but seems it’s too time consuming. Your design is exquisite!

    Sebastian Chuter

  7. I love this even though it didn't turn out quite the way you wanted. I love the tips from everyone, I am not a good stenciler!

  8. Hi Kayla, I haven't stenciled A LOT or anything but I had the same problem the first time. So, I bought some spray adhesive and a short brush (or you could try a pouncer, I think that's what they're called-) made for stenciling. With the spray adhesive, I sprayed the back of the stencil, waited about a minute then stuck it down (like the directions said). Start off with a dry brush (don't get it wet first) then, dip it in your paint and blot some of the paint off on a paper towel or something. Now, try filling in the stencil with a sort of dotting motion instead of brushing it on, bounce the brush over the area. I also found it helped to work around the edge of the stencil first, then fill it in. In the case of a stencil with lots of edges like yours, maybe try one herringbone at a time, doing the edge then filling it in. Hope this helps some cause that pattern is going to look awesome on the back of your shelves once it's done. Can't wait to see the final product and GOOD LUCK! :)