A Bakers Dozen FAQ

1. I have never stenciled before, is it difficult?
Stenciling is really quite simple. Just like everything else, the right tools for the job will make the project easier. Practicing on paper not only helps you become familiar with techniques but also allows you to experiment with colors. Instructions come with every order and our workshops are a great way to quickly learn this decorative art. For some fun history along with simple, informative instruction with photos, check out our book – Stenciling the Arts & Crafts Home.

2. What are Paintstiks®?
Paintstiks® are an oil-based paint in a solid form. Just because they are “sticks” does not mean you use them like a crayon. Rather they are a paint medium used with a stencil brush for stenciling. They go a long way and in most situations you will be lucky to go through even half of one stick of each color you are using in your project.  For more instructions on their use refer to the the information included in orders or the back of the Paintstik package. Pages 51-55 in our book show photos as well.

3. Do I need a special brush for stenciling?
Stencil brushes have flat end bristles that should be held perpendicular to the stencil plate while painting. This prevents the paint from sliding under the stencil bridges. You will need a separate brush for each color used in your chosen stencil design when using a single overlay stencil.

4. How does the stencil attach to the surface I want to stencil?
Although many people may be familiar with using masking tape to hold a stencil in place, repositionable stencil adhesive is by far the easiest way to get your stencil to stay where you want it. It also helps hold all the bridge work down, therefore helping to eliminate paint seeping under the stencil plate and appearing messy. Recoating is only necessary when the stencil begins to loose its tack.

5. How durable are the stencils, and do I need to buy more than one of a design?
Today’s stencils are cut out of flexible, durable plastic and if taken care of, will last for a very long time. Unlike acrylic paints which build up on the stencil plate and can distort the edges of the design, oil based Paintstiks® do not bond with the plastic stencil plate, so when you are using Paintstiks®, one stencil should be enough to complete your job. If you are attempting some complex matching up in corners or creating panel areas on the ceiling, you may want to buy an extra stencil to make your layout easier.

6. Can I use Paintstiks® on latex walls?
Most definitely! More important is the sheen of the wall paint. Flat and Eggshell finishes will dry the quickest and provide the most vibrant colors whereas semi-glosses provide problems because the surface is not porous enough for the stencil paint to adhere to. Satin finish stencils well, but may take a little longer to dry and colors may be a bit lighter.

7. Can textured walls be stenciled?
Textured walls stencil surprisingly well. The texture will add some depth to the design and sometimes give it an “old world” appearance. Start with very little paint on the brush and a light touch, adding more paint if necessary. Don’t worry about getting the edges of the stencil painted perfect, when you get five or six feet away, your eye will naturally fill in the imperfections in the outline of the design. If you have a similar texture in a closet, do a sample there to get a feel for it.

8. How do I deal with the corners?
With certain designs the easiest thing to do is to start in the least conspicuous corner and let the corner designs fall where they may. If the starting corner doesn’t match perfectly, so what; if it was wallpaper it wouldn’t match either. To avoid cramming a stencil into a difficult corner, try this instead. Run vertical pieces of ½-inch masking tape in the corners on each wall. Stencil up and on to the tape, bend the stencil around the corner and continue on. When you pull the masking tape off, you will have crisp, sharp edges in the corners, similar to a picture frame mat and since each corner is done the same, it looks finished and appropriate. See pages 83-87 in our book more information and photos.

9. Can I use the Paintstiks® on fabrics as well?
Paintstiks® also work beautifully on fabrics. A nice advantage of the oil base paints is that they dry to a soft and flexible finish, unlike most acrylic based textile paints. They also blend and shade better. Pre-wash before and heat set after (as with any painted fabric) and hand wash rather than dry clean, as the solvents used in the process can dissolve the Paintstiks®. View the stenciling fabric page for a few more tips or see pages 91-98 of our book, Stenciling the Arts & Crafts Home regarding working on textiles.

10. Can I stencil furniture or wood?
Furniture and wood certainly may be stenciled, but surfaces that may be subjected to abuse should be top coated with some kind of protective finish. Aerosol topcoats work well because they “set” the paint. Low sheen finishes, like flat, will allow the most intense stencil colors whereas higher gloss surfaces will need to be adjusted because paint won’t adhere to a nonporous area as well. If you are working on a painted surface, Flat & Eggshell finishes will stencil the best. A scrap of wood that you can do a sample of the whole process on before hand can be very beneficial.

11. Do I need paint thinner for clean up?
Brushes can be cleaned after using the oil based Paintstiks® with water when you use “The Masters”® Brush Cleaner & Preserver, which is a non-toxic product similar in use to shaving soap. Clean stencil plates with a dry rag or paper towel. The only time you need paint thinner for cleaning is upon completion of the job before the stencil is stored. Use paper towels moistened with thinner to wipe off any paint residue on the front of the stencil and to remove the adhesive from the back.

12. What happens if I make a mistake?
It is best to try to avoid mistakes, but sometimes they happen. Having some variation in the stenciling makes it look hand-painted, so a spot a little darker or lighter can be fine. Paper samples eliminate many potential mistakes, but in a worse case scenario when using Paintstik®, wipe the stencil off the wall with paint thinner and try it again after the thinner has dried. Acrylic paints will have to be painted over in this situation.

13. So I need to get rid of it, now what?
So the new homeowners want yellow instead of green? Just prime over the stencil design and repaint. It’s that simple and so much easier than stripping wallpaper.

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