How do I avoid paint bleed when I stencil?

Due to the nature of stenciling, paint bleeding can occur. Bleeding happens when the paint seeps under the edge of your stencil and creates an edge that's less than perfect.
The idea is more about reducing bleed rather than eliminating it completely. Here are some tips on reducing bleeding while stenciling. See more tips in our "how To" videos.

*Don't use too much paint! Too much paint on your roller or brush is the biggest reason for bleed. Off load your brush or roller onto paper towels to remove excess paint and build your paint coverage with 2 coats if necessary. Even if you think that you don't have too much paint on a roller it still may be too much, so please blot off the roller onto the paper towel before stenciling.

*Don't use a roller with a nap! They hold too much paint. Using a dense foam roller has given us the best results.

*Don't push the paint under the edge of the stencil and don't apply too much pressure when rolling or stippling with the brush.

*Stenciling on a flat sheen base coat will work better then stenciling on glossier surfaces because your stencil paint absorbs into the basecoat and dries quicker and has less time to seep under the edge.

*Stenciling with flat latex or craft acrylic paint works best because it dries quickly and has less time to seep.

*Stenciling with gloss paints or glazes will increase the potential for bleed because they dry slowly and have more tome to seep under the edge.

*Using  a good spray adhesive like Elmer's can greatly reduce bleed. Lightly mist the back of the stencil in a well ventilated area and let dry for a minute. Don't drench the stencil with adhesive because it could transfer to the wall. Re-apply the adhesive every few prints or as it loses it's tack.

*Stenciling on smoother surfaces always works better then on textured surfaces. If you want to stencil a textured surface, it's best to select a pattern that is more organic and has less straight lines. This way any paint bleed will be less noticeable. Using a stencil or stipple brush, not a roller seems to work best for textured surfaces.

*The brand and type of paint you use always plays a part in the amount of bleed you could get. We love Benjamin Moore's "Ben" in flat and most craft acrylics such as Folk Art. Some paints are too watery or too gummy and this may contribute to more bleed.

*Some patterns show bleed more than others. Patterns with straight, crisp geometric lines are less forgiving than organic, ornate, damask patterns.

And finally, this is stenciling! It's not supposed to look like perfectly printed printed wallpaper or stark wall decals! This is a hand-applied artistic wall finish. In almost every case the bleed that you notice while applying the stencil will never be noticed  when the project is finished, or even if you just step 2' away from the wall.

If paint bleed occurrs, you can quickly wipe it off with a moist rag or baby wipe, or touch it up later with an artist liner brush and some base coat paint. It's a good idea to clean the paint that bled on the back side of the stencil, since it could contribute to more seepage.

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