How to Stencil a Reclaimed Wood Décor Sign

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How to Stencil a Reclaimed Wood Décor Sign

Welcome to another DIY home décor stenciling tutorial from Oak Lane Studio. In this How to Stencil tutorial, we will show you how to paint a reclaimed wood décor sign for coastal themed wooden wall art. We will show you basic how to stencil techniques as well as how to stencil on wood, and how to stencil with multiple colors. 

For this project we used our coastal themed Life is Better at the Lake stencil template. You can hand paint your own reclaimed wood sign with any Craft Stencil Template or even a custom stencil template in your favorite colors. Scroll down to watch our How to Stencil a Reclaimed Wood Sign video tutorial. 

Supplies to Stencil a Wooden Décor Sign: 

How to Prepare the Wood for Stenciling

Start by preparing your reclaimed wood for stenciling. It is always important to stencil on a smooth surface. Crags and bumps in the wood are places where paint can pool and leak underneath the stencil template and mar the stenciled design. If your wood is particularly rough, sand away the bumps and snags before stenciling. 

Whether or not you need to sand your wood, be sure to clean the wood with a damp cloth. Dust and dirt will prevent the stencil template from adhering properly to the wooden sign while you stencil, and you don't want dirt mixing with the paint. 

Stenciling Tip: If you don't have reclaimed wood, you can easily stain new wood to look like reclaimed wood. Learn how to make an easy DIY vinegar stain to age new wood in our How to Stencil an Aged Wood Porch Sign tutorial. 

How to Prepare the Stencil Template

Now it is time to prepare the stencil template. Spray the back of the stencil template with Repositionable Spray Adhesive, do this in a well ventilated space away from the reclaimed wood sign you will stencil (you only want the back of stencil template to be tacky). Hold the spray can about 6 to 8 inches away from the stencil template to spray and keep your mouth closed while spraying.

spray the stencil template

Wait 30-60 seconds after spraying before centering the stencil template on the reclaimed wood. Our adhesive spray is pretty strong and if you position the stencil template too early you may have trouble removing it later.

how to stencil on wood how to stencil on reclaimed wood

Place the stencil template onto the reclaimed wood, and firmly press all the design cutouts into the wood until the stencil is completely flat. Use Frog Painter's Tape to tape around the outer edges of the stencil template, this will help keep the stencil in place and prevent accidental paint smudges outside of the stenciled design. You are now ready to stencil your sign. 

How to Stencil a Wooden Sign

Stenciling is not the same as painting and a key difference is the amount of paint you need to stencil. Stenciling is done with a dry brush (or roller) using the "Dry Brush Technique". (And yes, we really do mean a dry brush). Stenciling with too much paint on your brush will cause paint to seep underneath the stencil template and blur the stenciled design. This is called "Paint Bleed" and is the most common mistake made when stenciling.

Before you stencil, use the "Dot Test" to check that you have the right amount of paint on your stencil brush.

swirl the stencil brush in paint how to stencil with a dry brush

 The Dot Test For Stenciling:

How to check that you have the right amount of paint to stencil

  1. Pour some paint on a paper plate.
  2. Swirl your stencil brush or roller in the paint.
  3. Dab or roll all excess paint onto a paper towel or rag. (We recommend holding a roll of paper towels in one hand and dabbing the stencil brush onto the roll).
  4. Make a dot of paint on a scrap piece of paper. Brush the dot with your finger. If the paint smudges you have too much paint for stenciling. Repeat step 2. If the paint dot doesn't smudge, you have a dry brush and are ready to stencil!
  5. If you are using a paint roller, press the foam with one finger. If paint wells up around your finger you have too much paint. Repeat step 2.

Once you have a "dry brush" you are ready to stencil.

how to paint reclaimed wood how to stencil a wood sign

Begin by swirling or stippling paint into the stencil template cutouts (brush strokes are not used for stenciling). At first it may seem that the paint color is too faint, that is normal, resist the urge to immediately add more paint to your brush. With stenciling, color will gradually accumulate in many thin layers of paint. 3 to 4 coats of paint is normal, but you might need more depending on the paint you are using. 

how to stencil on reclaimed wood

You can carefully lift up a corner of the stencil template to see how the color looks. 

How to Stencil with Multiple Colors

For this DIY stenciling project, we used four colors of Americana Acrylic Paint to stencil our reclaimed wood sign. We stenciled the words in Soft Sage, the fish and water in Desert Turquoise, the canoe in Kelly Green and the fish hook in Slate Grey

Stenciling in multiple colors is really easy to do and makes the finished sign much more interesting.

how to stencil with multiple colors

Choose one color to start with and tape over the stenciled cutouts you don't want to paint in that first color. You only need to tape over the cutouts that are near where you will be stenciling in that first color. We stenciled the words first in Soft Sage.

how to stencil in more than one color how to stencil a wooden sign

When you have stenciled the first color and the paint has dried (this shouldn't take long), reposition the tape to cover the cutouts you don't want stenciled in the second color. We stenciled the canoe in Kelly Green and covered the cutouts near the canoe with tape. Make sure you use a clean brush every time you switch colors.

how to stencil with four colors

Reposition the tape and use a clean brush every time you stencil in a different color. 

Decorating Tip: If you are fond of a rustic, weathered or aged look on wood, you can create a rugged aesthetic by lightly sanding the sign after the paint has dried. 

How to Seal the Stenciled Sign

When you have finished stenciling and the paint has dried, gently peel the tape and the stencil template off the wood. 

how to seal a wooden sign

We recommend you finish by sealing the wood to protect the wood and the stenciled design. We used Americana Matte Finish Acrylic Sealer for a subtle, beachy finish. If you prefer a shiny finish you can use Americana Gloss Finish Acrylic Sealer.  

How to Clean the Stencil Template

Our stencil templates are easily washable and reusable! For this DIY stenciling project, we stenciled with water-based paint which is exceptionally easy to clean off of stencil templates. To clean the stencil template, first soak it in hot water for five minutes, this will loosen any paint that has dried on the stencil. Then wipe away all the remaining paint with a cloth and store the stencil template for future DIY stenciling projects.

For more information on how to clean stencil templates, please see our FAQ page.

Watch our How to Stencil a Reclaimed Wood Sign Video Tutorial:

If you have any scrap wood laying around the yard or garage, you can hand paint a DIY home décor sign. Create a stylish piece of reclaimed wood wall art to remind your family that life is better at the lake. This craft is perfect to spruce up or home décor or as a nice surprise for Mother's or Father's Day!

This DIY stenciled wood sign project is an easy, budget-friendly home décor project. You can create your own rustic, coastal driftwood décor sign to hang in your home. 

Learn more about how to stencil your home and create beautiful home décor in whatever style you like. Visit our Stenciling Blog, or Video Gallery for how to stencil tutorials and projects tips. Browse our home décor stenciling projects Photo Gallery for ideas and inspiration on how to use stencil templates to decorate your home.

Send us a picture of your DIY home décor stenciling projects or share your DIY stenciling projects with us on social media! We love to see stencils in action.