How to Use a Stencil Brush

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The Advantages of Using a Stencil Brush

How to use a stencil brush
The right tool for the job: a specialised stencil brush. Image © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc..

A stencil brush is a specialist brush with short, firmly packed bristles. They are available in various widths, from small for tiny, detailed sections of a stencil to large ones for faster painting in of sections.

The main advantage of a stencil brush over a normal paint brush is that it reduces the chances of getting paint under the edge of the stencil because of the stiff bristles.

If you're painting a border stencil with several colors, you may find it easier to have a brush for each color, rather than rinsing the brush each time.

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Loading Paint onto a Stencil Brush

How to Use a Stencil Brush
Don't put too much paint on the stencil brush. Image © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc..

Don't overload the brush with paint, dab just the end of the bristles (hairs) into the color you require. Having only a little paint on the brush means you've more control over it.

Resist the temptation to push the whole length of the bristles into the paint in the belief that you'll have to do it less often because there's more paint on the brush. Not only does this make it harder to clean the paint out of the brush, but you're more likely to end up with too much paint in an area accidentally.

It's better to dip the brush into the paint frequently. It's far easier to add a little more paint to a stencil you're painting than it is to remove it without creating a mess.

The paint you're using for stenciling shouldn't be too liquid, nor your brush too wet (which thins the paint further), as the paint, is then more likely to seep under the edge of the stencil, ruining the result.

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Applying the Paint to the Stencil

How to Use a Stencil Brush
Image © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc..

Apply the paint to the relevant section of the stencil in a vertical, up and down motion. You want to be tapping the end of the brush onto the stencil, not brushing it across in a sideways motion. This helps prevent paint getting under the edge of the stencil.

Painting with a stencil brush sideways up against the edge of a stencil also increases the risk of building up a ridge of paint at the edges. If this does happen, use a piece of cloth to gently soak up the excess paint while it's still wet and before you lift the stencil.

Tips For Using a Stencil Brush:

  • Tape down the edges of the stencil before you start so that there's no danger of the stencil moving.
  • Use the fingers of your free hand to keep small parts of the stencil down while you apply the paint.
  • Have a cloth or a supply of paper towel for wiping your hands and stencil brush on.