How to Paint Stencils Without Bleed-out

Mackenzie Wright

Stencils are a great way to add decorative details to your home decor. You can stencil borders along your walls, or add inspirational quotes and phrases to feature as artwork in any room. Old furniture can be painted and stenciled to add a finishing touch that makes it stand out.

Stenciling can be a frustrating project, however, if not done correctly. Bleed-out can cause dripping or smudges that will not only ruin your design, but may result in the need to re-paint your wall or furniture to cover the mistakes. There are some easy steps you can take to avoid stencil bleed-out.

  1. Spray the back of your stencils with a stencil adhesive before securing them on the wall. Stencil adhesive is a low-tack adhesive that will help to create a seal so that paint will not easily drip or spread.

  2. Secure your stencil to the wall firmly with painter’s tape. The less your stencil moves, the less of a problem you will have.

  3. Pour your paint in small amounts into a Styrofoam or plastic disposable plate. This will help prevent too much paint from loading on the brush. When stenciling you want to use a dry brush effect to avoid drips.

  4. Use a brush specifically designed for stenciling. Stenciling brushes are round, full and tightly packed. They also have a flat painting surface for good coverage.

  5. Tap your brush into your paint on your plate to load it, then tap and blot it in an empty spot, or onto a paper towel, to remove most of the paint. Again, you want the brush practically dry.

  6. Hold the brush horizontally, with the flat side of the bristles parallel to the wall. Don’t hold your brush on an angle or bristles can slip in behind the stencil, smudging the design.

  7. Tap the brush onto the stencil. Don’t brush or rub. Cover the area a little at a time, re-loading the brush when necessary and blotting off excess paint. Continue until the design is complete.

  8. Remove stencils before the paint dries to avoid peeling. Peel the stencil back slowly and carefully.

  9. Allow at least 24 to 48 hours before adding additional stencil layers so your previous layers won’t smudge or peel off.