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Craft Stencils - Different Types and Different Projects

Stencils are a pattern or cut out used to give a design to the surface below. Most stencils can be used repeatedly which helps to create bigger designs from one stencil. Stencils can also be created with the use of freezer paper and craft knives. If you are looking for a cost effective way to decorate a room or backdrop, stencils can be a great alternative to wallpaper or decals. They can be easily painted over which will cause less hassle than removing wallpaper. Stenciling a wall or backdrop has become a recent crafting trend for the savy DIYer looking to add design and personality to a room. Though stencils can be a great option for decorating a room, they can also be used for a variety of other projects. Read below to learn about the different types of stencils, the paint to use, what you need to know about stenciling on different surfaces, and the type of brush to use. 

Tips for using all types of craft stencils from fabric to walls | Discount Craft Supplies


Types of Stencils

1. Craft and Hobby Stencils

Craft and Hobby Stencils are used for painting and decorating. These stencils are larger and usually made of a flexible plastic material, though they can also be made from paper, metal, or have an adhesive backing. They can be placed on different surfaces including walls, furniture, and décor, to add a design element to any product.

Plaid Stencil FolkArt Designer Mum

2. Scrapbooking and Paper Crafts Stencils

Stenciling can also be a great way to add designs and flair to your scrapbooks, cards, and other cardmaking crafts. You can use them to draw directly onto the paper or give a guideline for cutting your paper. 

Ranger Stencil Dina Wakley Media Wheels

3. Quilting Stencils

Quilting Stencils can be a great way to add a design to your quilt or project when sewing. For more information on quilting stencils check out our quilting stencils buying guide.

Quilting Stencil

Making Your Own Stencils

Using Freezer Paper can be a great way to make your own stencils from designs you print out. In order to cut out your stencil you will need an craft knife as well as an iron. These stencils are usually made to be put on fabric and can be a great way to design your own shirt.

Another option is to use mylar sheets and a heat tool to make your own stencils.  

Here is a tutorial on how to make your own stencils!

How to make your own stencils 

Painting with Stencils

Once you have your wall or freezer paper stencil one common question is what type of paint to use on different surfaces. Here is a list of different types of paint to be used for different surfaces. For more information check out our craft paints buying guide.


1. Arcylic and Latex Paints

Acrylic and Latex paints have a consistency that helps to ensure your paint will not run underneath the stencil. It also dries quickly ensuring less time for your paint to seep under your stencil or smudge. Acrylic and Latex paints can be used on a variety of surfaces including wood, walls, and different furniture.

Here are a few brands and options to choose from:

decorart paint


2. Fabric Paints

When painting on a fabric with a stencil, it’s a good idea to use appropriate fabric paint. If you don’t have any fabric paint, and acrylic paint can be a good substitute when mixed with a textile medium.

Here are a few brands and options to choose from:

Another option for fabric paint is to use a spray. A fabric spray will be a quick and fun way to produce a clean stencil on your fabric. A spray adhesive will help to keep your stencil in place when using a fabric spray.


3. Spray Paint

Though a spray paint can be a fun method for stenciling, be careful when it comes to location. – spray paint can be both messy and the fumes can be hazardous. If you are using spray paint make sure to be in a well ventilated area. When using spray paint it’s a good idea to use a spray adhesive to keep the stencil in place. Be careful not to use too much paint as this can create "overspray" around the edge of your stencil. Overspray can also make for a fun design element when used intentionally, just make sure that the overspray looks as natural as possible.


 4. Glass Paints

Painting on glass requires a special paint to ensure there is not chipping or peeling. Choose a paint designed for glass or craft enamel paint. When painting on glass, it is a good idea to use a spray adhesive to keep the stencil in place.

Snowflake Tealight Holder


Stenciling on Different Surfaces

1. Walls:

Make sure the walls are clean before applying your stencil. Use painter’s tape or a temporary spray adhesive to apply your stencil to the wall and a stencil brush to apply the paint. Keep a wet paper towel on hand to clean up your project and to get excess paint off your brush. It's also a good idea to use the paint color currently on your wall as the first layer of your stencil. The first layer is most likely to bleed underneath and will be much less noticable if it's the same color. Make sure your first layer is completely dry before applying the second layer.

2. Paper:

Use a stencil brush or ink spray to apply your stencil to the paper.

3. Canvas: 

Wipe the canvas with a dampened cloth to remove dust. Use painter’s tape or spray adhesive to keep the stencil in place and use a stencil brush to apply the paint.

4. Fabric:

Before stenciling on fabric, wash and dry the fabric you are using. Place a piece of cardboard between the layers of fabric to prevent bleed-through. Secure your stencil with temporary spray adhesive or use a freezer paper stencil. Use several layers of light applications rather than a thick layer. Give at least 48 hours for the paint to dry.


What Tools to Use

Stencil Brushes

For the best results, especially with smaller stencils, use a stencil brush. These brushes are designed specifically for stenciling. A stencil brush has a flat top which is perfect for dabbing at the edge of the stencil to reduce the paint from seeping underneath. The bristles are also very stiff, which makes them less likely to slide underneath the stencil. A stencil brush should be flexible and the size of the stencil brush you use should depend on the size of the stencil. Look at the size of the opening of the stencil to determine the size of brush you need. When using the stencil brush make sure to evenly distribute the paint on the brush. Use a paper towel to wipe off excess paint. 

acrylic paint with stencils

Stencil Roller

For a quicker way to paint and for stencils with less details and shading try a stencil roller. This type of tool will be especially helpful when using a wall stencil or stencil you want to cover a large area. A stencil roller should be made of a dense foam. A normal paint roller will not give clean results like a foam roller. When using a stencil roller, push your roller into the paint for and allow to absorb. Make sure to blot off excess paint on a folded paper towel before beginning your painting. 

Stencil Roller


Spoucers allow for the absorbtion of the paint as well as the flat top of a stencil brush. With this tool, make sure to press directly on top of the edges to stop paint from seeping. 

Stencil spoucer

Paint Brushes

If using a normal paint brush for stenciling, make sure to paint from the outside of the stencil to the inside. Never push paint towards the edge when painting inside the stencil. This will result in seeping and a less clean result on your stencil. 

Tips for Stenciling 

1. Use less paint rather than more, this will cause less bleeding and ensure a crisper stencil. Many thin layers will give much cleaner results than thick layers.

2. When stenciling on a textured surface, use a stencil with a more natural look rather than crisper lines.

4. Use a stencil brush to get crisper lines and to ensure less bleeding a blotting in your design.

5. Using a temporary spray adhesive will help keep your stencil in place. Be sure to not use too much so it doesn’t get stuck to the surface and paint you’re stenciling with.

5. When stenciling on wood, sand the surface with a fine grit and then use a dampened paper towel to remove sawdust.

6. If stenciling on glass, make sure to wash the surface with warm, soapy water before starting.


Projects Using Stenciling

DIY Silhouettes and Stencils from Photos

Stencil Basics

Stenciled Tea Towels

House Number Planter

Mail Call– Stenciled Bag

Snowflake Tealight Holder

DIY Fall Burlap Banner

DIY Fall Burlap Banner


 Check out various stenciling projects and crafts at our Think Crafts Blog.

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