How to Stencil an Upcycled Table

In this DIY home decor tutorial we will demonstrate how to stencil an upcycled stencil with our Grateful and Blessed stencil template. We will show you basic how to stenciling techniques, as well as how to stencil with chalk paint and how to stencil on furniture. Whether you want to refresh your bedside table, repaint furniture for a kid's room makeover, or just create a different feel in you room, this tutorial will show you how to easily stencil furniture.

Stencils are a budget-friendly tool for DIY home decorating. You don't have to be an artist to hand paint beautiful home decor, you can use a stencil template to create DIY home decor personalized to your own unique taste. 

What is Upcycling?

Upcycling is the art of refinishing well loved (old) furniture to give your favorite furnishings a second life. You can repaint wooden furniture (this is often done with Chalk Paint), recover upholstery, and even stencil the fabric on a recovered chair or cushion, or try an even more creative project such as transforming a headboard into a bench. Stencils are an excellent tool for upcycling. Stencils enable you to do more than simply repainting furniture, and help you create a stunning new home decor piece in a new style.

Supplies for Stenciling a Table

Practice Stenciling First

We always recommend practicing your stenciling technique on a piece of cardboard or fabric before beginning your stenciling project, especially if this your first time stenciling. The Dry Brush Technique, or stenciling with a bare minimum of paint (explained in Step ) is key to stenciling, as stenciling with too much paint will cause paint to seep under the stencil and blur the design (this is also known as "Paint Bleed"). To stencil, you will swirl or stipple many faint layers of paint until the color has gradually reached the shade you prefer. Practice your stenciling technique first to get a feel for how little paint you actually need for stenciling.

Step 1: Sand the Table

Start off by sanding down the wood surface of your wood furniture with low grit sandpaper. Since we will be painting over the surface with Annie Sloan chalk paint we are not going to worry about sanding off the stain. Instead we want to rough up the surface just enough that the paint has something to stick to.

Step 2: Paint a Basecoat on the Table

We stenciled our upcycled table with Annie Sloan chalk paint. Chalk paint is a water based paint that is well suited to painting or stenciling on wood or furniture. Before stenciling you may want to refinish the table with a fresh coat of paint, to cover up any blemishes in the wood or start fresh with a new color. If you are going to paint the table first, make sure the paint has dried completely before stenciling the table.

To paint a base coat on the table, we used a 2-inch paint brush from our local hardware store to apply two coats of paint to the table, and touched up the paint on the table legs. Once your chalk paint has completely dried it's time to stencil.

Step 3: Position the Stencil Template

First, spray the back of the stencil template with our Repositionable Spray Adhesive, holding the spray can about 8-12 inches away from the stencil. (Keep your mouth closed while spraying). Wait 30-60 seconds for the spray adhesive to become tacky before positioning the stencil template on your upcycled table. You can measure a mid point from the sides of the table to properly center the stencil.

Once the stencil template is in place, firmly press the stencil template into the wood, making sure none of the design cutouts are sticking up. Then use the Frog Painter's Tape to tape around the outer edges of the stencil, this will help protect the table from accidental paint smudges.

Step 4: Stencil with a Dry Brush

It is important to stencil with a dry brush, which means that your brush should be almost dry to the touch when you stencil. (And yes, we do really mean dry). Stenciling with too much paint will cause the excess paint to “bleed” or seep under the stencil and blur the template design. Before stenciling, use the Dot Test to be sure you have the right amount of paint for stenciling.

 The Dot Test For Stenciling:

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

  1. Dip you brush or roller in your paint.
  2. 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).
  3. Make a dot or roll of paint on a scrape piece of paper. Brush the dot with your finger. If the paint smudges you have too much paint. Repeat step 2. If the paint does not smudge, you have a dry brush and are ready to stencil!
  4. If 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.

To stencil, swirl or stipple your stencil brush over the stencil template. When you first start stenciling, it may seem that only thin layer of paint is coming through. This is normal, resist the urge to add more paint to your brush. Color will accumulate in many thin layers of paint. When the brush is completely out of paint, repeat the dot test and continue stenciling until you are satisfied with the color.

Step 5: How to Stencil with Chalk Paint

Chalk paint is a bit thicker than acrylic paint so the color may be more vivid even after just one coat. Because chalk paint is thicker you will also want to be careful that it does not build onto the edges of the stencil template. The lighter the coats of paint are, the crisper your stenciled design will be when you have finished stenciling.

Step 6: Relax while Stenciling

Play some music, listen to a podcast or audiobook and enjoy watching the stencil design gradually fill in. This is time you can relax and have some fun with stencils and paints!

Step 7: Finish and Clean the Stencil Template

When the paint color has reached your desired saturation and the paint has dried, gently remove the Frog Painter's Tape and the stencil template. Since you are using the dry brush technique there might be paint dust building up on and around your stencil. Wait for the paint to dry completely before brushing the paint dust away or you might accidentally smudge the fresh paint into the stenciled design.

Our stencil templates are easily washable and reusable and water based paint, such as chalk paint are easy to clean off the stencil. Clean the stencil template by soaking it in hot water for five minutes and then use a cloth to clean the chalk paint off the stencil template and store the stencil for future use.

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

Congratulations, you've stenciled a bedside table!

Please send us a picture of your upcycled furniture stenciling projects or share your DIY stenciling projects with us on social media! We love seeing stencils in action.