How to stencil paint on wood

Updated February 21, 2017

Create your own wood signs and artwork to decorate your home or garden, or to advertise your business. You don't have to be a proficient painter to add lettering or designs onto wood. You can find stencils in a variety of letter styles, words, phrases and images to help decorate the wood. Practice stencilling on paper to get the feel of the swirling motion that works best with the pain application, then transfer what you've learnt onto a smooth, or rough, wood surface.

Sand a wood block with medium grade sandpaper. Always sand in the direction of the wood grain. Remove the sanding debris. Follow up by sanding with light grade sandpaper. The medium grade paper will help smooth a rough surface, the light grade paper removes scratches leftover from the medium paper.

Wipe the sanded wood surface with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris. Allow the wood surface to dry completely.

Tape the desired stencil in place onto the sanded wood. The stencil should lay flush against the wood surface.

Tap the blunt end of the stencil brush into the desired colour of acrylic paint. Blot the brush onto a paper plate or cardboard to remove most of the paint.

Swirl the paint from the brush onto the cutout section of the stencil. Work your way from the outside of the stencil to the inside. Cover the cutout section with a light coat of paint. Let the paint dry.

Leave the stencil in place on the wood. Add successive thin layers of acrylic paint onto the stencil cutouts until the paint is the desired colour. Wood is absorbent; one coat of paint may not provide the appropriate colour concentration. Let the paint dry between coats.

Remove the stencil. Coat the wood block, including the painted designs with a coat of spray polyurethane.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood block
  • Sandpaper
  • Damp cloth
  • Stencil
  • Tape
  • Acrylic paint
  • Stencil brush
  • Spray polyurethane
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About the Author

Katherine Kally is a freelance writer specializing in eco-friendly home-improvement projects, practical craft ideas and cost-effective decorating solutions. Kally's work has been featured on sites across the Web. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of South Carolina and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.