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The Easiest Way To Stencil A Sign

January 06, 2021

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Looking for the easiest way to stencil a wooden sign without bleeding paint? Check out my secret to crisp stenciled lines and beautiful results even if you're a beginner.

Wooden DIY Farm Sign

I love crafting during the holidays. There's something very comforting and festive about creating by the light of the tree.

Seasonal music playing in the background.

The fireplace crackling nearby.

It brings me right back to the days when I was small, sticking pins and sequins into styrofoam ball ornaments.

Am I dating myself, there? Maybe a bit.
Well, this season was no exception. That nostalgia bug is hard to fight.

While I may not have been able to go out shopping for supplies, like any good crafter, I had a huge stash of things I was able to transform in my craft closet. And I did.

However. I still had unfinished decorating business in the kitchen and it wasn't the Christmas kind.

I tried to push it off, but I'm not good at waiting, so in the middle of December, I did something quite unthinkable.

I stopped my normal holiday projects and dove into a year round DIY.

The new curtains I made in the fall, added a huge burst of color to the kitchen. And I mean huge.

They were the first full length panels I've ever had in that space and the first time I used fabric with so much bright color. And I absolutely adore every inch of it...but like I said, it's a lot.

Once I brought the trees and lights and Santas into the space, it became way too much. Something had to go.

Or at least be toned down.
The Secret To Perfect Stencils Every Time

The red rooster sign over the sink was the obvious choice. It looked great up there in summer and fall, but in the gray days of winter, it was just too bright.

I know that seems counterintuitive, that I should crave color now more than ever.

But I wanted something a little more muted...a little more rustic and a little different from the wallpaper roosters that had been living up there - in red and white - for decades.

Normally, I would grab a wall sticker to make a new sign, but since I had been relying on my trusty supplies, I decided to dig in to see if I had anything that would work.

And lo and behold I pulled out not one, but two stencils.

I had used this Cow Pig Chicken stencil before when I gave an old thrifted cutting board a makeover.

I'd received the Farm To Table stencil at the same time, but never had the right use for it. Until now.

The Easiest Way To Stencil A Sign

I used to stencil a lot. Back in the 90's, it was a decor staple. 

However, it was never a carefree craft, for me anyway, because I was always worried about frayed and fuzzy edges.

So when I found wall decals and gift bags that I could work with, I basically abandoned stencils.

And then I was sent a stenciled pillow kit that came with a roller and everything changed.

A roller??

Yup. It was genius.

I returned to stenciling and I've never looked back at foam brushes or pouncers.

I've stenciled everything from wooden signs and fabric to entire walls. And always with the same kind of roller.

I can have that rustic painted look I love and perfect results every single time.

Stencil Supplies foam roller, tray and painter's tape


This is the secret to my stenciling success:

Foam Roller

It's a very tight, mini foam roller.

I always get the multipack so I can work with a few colors at one time without waiting for them to dry.

They hold the paint well and the rolling motion applies the paint evenly. Plus it's quick. It's a no brainer.

For this sign, I used the back of my red rooster board. Again.

It was the perfect size for the space and since I removed the rooster decals months ago and had given it a fresh coat of cream paint, the hardest part was mapping out where the letters were going to go.

I wanted everything centered top and bottom, left and right.

Measuring Letter Spacing with a tape measure and pencil

That took more than a little bit of measuring and math. Not my favorite. But I knew I'd be annoyed if the words were askew.

In addition to marking where I should stencil, I actually drew out a few letters on the wood to make sure it would all line up well.

Mapping Out Stencil Placement On Sign

Then I taped the stencil onto the board with my blue painter's tape and started rolling.

TABLE was first.

Taping Stencil To Wooden Board

As I said, I was going for rustic, so I used a brown acrylic craft paint. Brown paint is awesome. If applied lightly, it mimics the look of stain without the hassle of using stain. 

It's soap and water washable, doesn't smell and is much more forgiving to work with.

Dark Chocolate Craft Paint

After a few quick swipes with the roller and I was ready to repeat the process on the other end of the board with FARM. That went just as fast.

Using A Roller For Stencils

I was all set to tape down TO, when something stopped me and on a whim, I grabbed a little hen stencil and added it, instead. 

No, it isn't really a saying. I mean Farm To Table makes more sense than Farm Chicken Table, but I liked it better, so I kept it. 

I guess I missed my roosters. Understandable, considering we've be living together for almost 20 years.

When the brown paint was dry, I used an eraser to remove all the pencil marks that had been left behind.

And I hung that sign up.

Farmhouse Style Stenciled Kitchen Sign

It was just what I craved. So charming above the curtain-less window.

The word farm in such close proximity to the new checked curtains and sink skirt makes it all feel right.

Of course, it's comforting to know that my red roosters are safely tucked in for winter on the other side. And whenever the whim strikes me, they'll return to brighten my kitchen once again.

In the meantime, my Farm Chicken Table sign- reminiscent of my I Love Chickens Valentine Banner- has inspired a few other changes around here. Nothing drastic just some new accents to freshen things up.

After all, fresh was supposed to be my word of the year.

Hmmm...maybe it should've been farm.

Have you ever used a roller to stencil?
Kim Signature

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  1. Yes- I have used the rollers to stencil for my projects the last couple of years. I love those little rollers-they are perfect for the job. Love that you used brown paint-it's perfect. Happy Farm Chicken Table day- xo Diana

    1. Rollers really are the best, Diana. I'm a stenciling pro now...well...almost. 😉 I think I'll always be a "good enough" kind of crafter. I hope you have a Happy Farm Chicken Table day, too!! xo

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you, Penny. It's a fun little change.

  3. I have not used rollers for stenciling but I do use them to paint almost everything. The sponge rollers are great and they put the paint on evenly. The sign looks awesome above the sink window. You go with your crafty self. xoxo Kris

    1. You should try one Kris, especially since you have them on hand. They really do make the job easier! And thanks!! xxoo

  4. I used to stencil too and also had issues with blurry edges. I've never tried a roller - good idea! And your signed turned out great. I like the way the brown looks like stain too.
    Thanks for the tip!

    1. Thanks Mari! It never would've occurred to me to use a roller if that company hadn't sent me one. It was a game changer!

  5. I still stencil with stencil brushes. I enjoy the look.

    The sign looks great.


    1. Your projects always look great, Cindy! You definitely have a lot more patience than I do when it comes to crafting!

  6. I haven't stenciled in many MANY years...and was never good at it. Thanks for sharing your expertise:)

    1. I shied away from it for a long time, because it was labor intensive and I was so judgmental about my work, but I’m telling you, Cheri, that roller is a game changer!


  7. I LOVE IT!!

    I need something like this for the girls coop. :-) I am sure I can find a good outdoor paint.
    I have a little mailbox I am going to put up for them this summer. I should stencil their names on the mailbox, Lolly, Polly, Holly, Molly and Dolly. Right now they have a Christmas tree at the entrance of the coop.

    1. Oh my gosh, every time I think of those girls, I just smile. I can’t wait to see that coop come alive in spring!!

  8. Hi Kim, I love the sign. Over windows and doorways, I think, are great places to display signage. I have never used a roller to stencil. I started out with a regular stencil brush and used the little pouncer once or twice, then I started using just a piece of sponge and it works really well for me as sometimes I don't want a total coverage of paint on a word or I can just hit it more for full coverage. I have never had trouble with it spreading under the stencil. I felt the sponge was easier (and lazier) to clean afterwards..I love how you used the chicky in place of the word to, too..Stay well..xxoJudy

    1. I think that I'm an impatient crafter, Judy and while I used to take my time and go slow in my younger years, doing whole walls no less, today, I just want it done and the roller lets move quick with great results. It was a fun trick to stumble upon!! Be well my friend! xo

  9. I love the sign as well. I was once told to take a small, inexpensive paint brush and just cut it until the bristles are quite short. I've been using it for stenciling ever since and as long as I use very little paint, it doesn't bleed. I hope you are keeping very safe and well, my friend, and still enjoying this start to the new year.

    1. I say whatever works for you, Amalia!! I think I'm an impatient crafter, so with brushes I tend to use too much paint and move too quickly. The roller keeps me in check. Ha!! And I wish you the same, my friend. Love seeing your creations go by on Facebook. So sweet..xo

  10. At the top of your post I had assumed you stencilled your cute farmhouse sign with stain. Great tip for mimicking the look, Kim! I've yet to master stencilling with a roller. What is your trick?

    1. It's definitely all about the roller itself, Marie. It has to be a very tight covering, foam, and not too much paint. That's the trick!

  11. Kim,
    Love your sign!! Looks great where you have it...I used to stencil back in the 90's but have not done so in years....I still have stencils and paints so who knows what I will be doing...This year I hope to go through all my crafts and start making the things I put on a Craft List to Do....That will also hopefully free up some space too!!! Thanks so much for stopping by and for all your kind words!! I really do appreciate it!! Stay safe, healthy and happy!!

    1. I used to stencil all the time, Debbie, and then poof, I stopped. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve started up again. That roller was the enticing trick! And thank you, as well, for all the visits and comments…truly the best part of blogging! Hugs!

  12. I love this sign you made Kim and it looks great about the sink. Using a roller to stencil is a great idea. Thanks for sharing your tip for stenciling.

    1. Thanks Julie! It really makes stenciling a super quick job.