A big hello from Ideal Stencils! Today we are going to be talking about painting your stencil with a stencil or stencilling brush. I hear you asking: Can’t I just use a standard paint brush? What kind of brush should I get and what size? How do you use one? When should I use a brush and when should I use a stencilling roller? What are the pro’s and cons of using a Stencil brush? Read on and all your questions will be answered…

Stencil brushes array

Can’t I just use a standard paint brush?

A stencilling brush is designed for the particular job of stencilling. It has a head of stiff packed bristles to reduce the risk of paint getting under the cut out areas of the stencil, which lead to blotchy edges. You could get away with using a standard paintbrush which has firm bristles but you would have to be A LOT more careful and conscious of your painting to ensure that you didn’t make a mess of it. If your doing one small project this may be okay but It is definitely worth investing in a proper stencilling brush if you are planning on doing more stencilling in the future.

What kind of stencil brush should I use?

There are many stencil brushes out there to choose from and sometimes it is hard to know which to choose. From our experience we would recommend stencil brushes that have white bristles as they tend to be softer than the black bristles and are a lot nicer to work with. I got a black bristled brush once and it hardly absorbed the paint at all…useless. Stencil handles come in various shapes: long, short, rounded like a bulb. As a rule if the brush has a larger head to it the handle will be short and brushes with a smaller bristle head often as expected will have a longer handle that you can hold like a pen and have more control over the paint application. Medium sized bristle heads will have a mix of long and short handles, which you choose in terms of shape is your preference.

stencil brushes close up

What size stencil brush should I get?

Stencil brushes come in a variety of sizes and as a rule the larger the openings in the stencil the larger the brush you would use. The sized stencils that I have are 1/2″, 3/4″, 1″ and 1 1/2″. I find that these work for all my stencilling needs, but if I was going to recommend one size that I use the most it would be either my 3/4″ or 1″ brush.

How do I use a stencil brush?

Once you have swirled you brush into the paint to load it, it is very important to brush all of the excess paint off onto some paper towel before you start to paint your stencil. Stencilling is what is known as a ‘dry brush’ technique, meaning you don’t need a lot of paint on your brush, otherwise paint can seep under the stencil causing blotchy edges and an unhappy you! You most commonly use a brush in a stippling or pouncing motion, which is a short and fast up and down motion holding the brush at 90 degrees to the surface. You can also do what’s known as swirling motion where you swirl the brush in circles this will produce a smoother finish than stippling and is great for blending colours within a design, but there is more rink of pushing paint under the surface when doing this.

using stencil brush blog
Load/off load brush before stencilling. Stencil using a stippling up and down motion.

When should I use a brush and when should I use a roller?

Using a stencil brush is great for smaller projects and for stencils where the opening of the stencil are not to large. But imagine if your going to be using a stencil brush to complete an allover wall design, you going to get stencilling cramp (did I just coin that phrase?) In this case you would want to opt for a roller to complete the project and just use a brush for finishing off the edges.

What are the pros and cons of using a stencilling brush?

When using a stencil brush you have more control of the paint application and it is easier to handle. You can also use a stencil brush to add shading effects or to blend colours within a design for example if stencilling a leaf or flower petal you might stipple a darker hue around the edge of the shape to give an illusion of curve and fullness. But for larger projects like designs with large cut out areas or where you will be repeating a motif many times then it would make more sense to use a stencilling roller.

What kind of stencil brush do you prefer to use? Got any tips or tricks of your own? If so please leave a comment and let us know!

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