Using Furniture Stencils: Tips and Tricks for a Perfect Finish

Stenciling is a great way to add a personal touch to your furniture. It's also a relatively easy technique to learn, and it's perfect for beginners in upcycling furniture. In this blog post, we'll share some tips and tricks on how to use furniture stencils, so you can achieve a beautiful and professional-looking finish. We'll also show you how to use different tools, stencils and textures to create interesting effects.

So, grab your paintbrushes and let's get started!

A blue cabinet with white designs painted on it.

Are there different types of furniture stencils?

We carry two types of furniture stencils here at Maika Daughters. The traditional Mylar stencil- reusable and reusuable -that you can use on your projects multiple times, or our adhesive stencil rolls Stick & Style (for those who are just starting out).

The adhesive stencil roll Stick & Style is perfect for beginners (and not so beginners!). The beauty of it is that it sticks to your surface and does not move. The designs on these are helpful for creating repetitive designs in one long line, for curved areas or smaller areas. When using this type of furniture stencil, we prefer using Dixie Belle's mineral chalk paint, on the wood directly, or over the painted piece.

The Mylar stencil is great for creating a design with paint, like the adhesive roll, or as many established artists do, creating a 3D or raised effect of the design!

What tool should I use when stenciling furniture?

If you're looking to stencil your design, we recommend using one of three different tools: 

Stenciling with a stencil brush

With uneven areas it can be more convenient to use a stencil brush, as you can get into the tiny nooks and crannies. Stencil brushes are also better suited for designs where you want to use multiple layered colors in the stencil or shading in the design. These brushes come in various sizes, so be sure to select the size or sizes that will work best for the stencil design you’re using.

Applying paint with your stencil brush. 

  1. You will want to pour stencil paint onto a tray and start by dipping the stencil brush tip into the paint to around 1/8” depth. 
  2. Swirl the brush on the tray to evenly distribute the paint into the bristle tips. 
  3. Off load extra paint by dabbing onto a paper towel. You want the brush to appear nearly dry. 
  4. Use a soft swirling motion in your furniture stencil for a soft look or to blend edges and add shading. 

Tips: Make sure to pounce or dab your brush up and down. Avoid using a sweeping application as this can force paint under the edges of your stencil. Always use separate brushes for each color to avoid muddled colors.

Stenciling with a foam roller

Using our small paint roller set can be a very quick way to cover a large stencil area.

Applying paint with your foam roller 

  1. You’ll want to pour your paint into a tray (or the acylic tray included in our paint roller set) and load the foam roller by rolling it in the paint using medium pressure. You want the paint load to look even on the roller, not splotchy. 
  2. Once you have it evenly saturated, off load excess paint by rolling it a couple times on a paper towel. This should leave the roller looking slightly dry. This will help to prevent seepage under the stencil. 
  3. Start by rolling along the furniture stencil and slowly build up coverage with light to medium pressure. Pressing too hard can cause paint to run underneath the edges of the stencil. 
  4. Reload and off load paint on your foam roller as necessary.

Creating a raised design with a spatula

If you are creating a raised stencil design with your furniture stencil, we recommend you use a spatula to apply the medium of your choice.

Applying your medium with our spatula 

  1. Using your product of choice, load your spatula
  2. Evenly pull it over your stencil. 
  3. To maintain clean, crisp lines be careful not to push the paste or mud under the edges of your stencil.

A deeper look into creating raised design with furniture stencils

Some of the products we would recommend using to create a 3D or raised effect are: 

  • Chalk Paste
  • Jewel Paste
  • Dixie Belle Mud
  • Icing Paste
  • Glass Bead Gel

A thicker version of chalk paint, Chalk Paste is perfect for creating a raised effect with a furniture stencil. This creamy paste is available in 30 different colors, making it an easy go-to for raised effects.

Though it was originally intended to fix cracks and fill holes, Dixie Belle Mud is also ideal when it comes to creating a raised effect with a furniture stencil. We like to apply it before painting our furniture, so that on once it dries, the entire piece can be painted together .. making the final finish more subtle. This product comes in 3 colors (black, brown and white).

Icing Paste is the metallic version of Chalk Paste. You get the same raised effect, with a brilliant finish.

Our Glass Bead Gel is the most fun! This paste is transparent, so we like mixing metallic paint into it. Using these thousands of little beads in a furniture stencils gives the final design on your piece a lot more dimension.

Jewel Paste is a mix of Icing Paste and a much finer version of Glass Bead Gels, giving it a much more subtle and shiny texture to your raised design.

Some final tips when using a stencil on furniture

  1. If you are not using an adhesive furniture stencil, you will want to secure your stencil so it doesn't move while you are working on your design. You can do this in two ways: You can use reposition-able adhesive spray; or, use a masking tape. If you are using masking tape, be sure to burnish (rub down) the edges to make sure paint doesn't seep under the edges. 
  2. It's better to apply two thin layers of paint in a furniture stencil, versus one thick layer.
  3. We recommend waiting to remove your furniture stencil until the design is dry to the touch. This prevents you from accidentally smudging your design or getting wet paint where you don't intend for it to be. 
  4. Once you're happy with the coverage on your furniture stencil, you'll want to gently lift it up and remove it from your piece. If you used masking tape, be sure to pull your tape up at an angle, pulling slowly.
bright orange dresser with colorful design stenciled on the side.
Pink dresser with drawers pulled out, and you can see flowers stenciled on the sides of the drawers.

Applying a design with a furniture stencil can give your piece a whole new look without having to spend a lot of money. By following the tips and tricks in this blog post, you can make sure that your finished product looks perfect. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below!

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