I must admit, I’m not usually a fan of stencils on furniture. But, two notable exceptions are folk patterns and faux bone inlay. Be still my heart! Of course these are the most intense of all stencils and the trickiest to get right on furniture. We challenged ourselves this week to create a faux bone inlay or Moroccan inlay pattern on an antique dresser using a stencil. Below we share with you our tips and tricks on how to stencil on wood furniture. This works for simple patterns as well as more complicated repeating motifs!
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The before – painted furniture before stenciling
This antique dresser takes the prize for the dirtiest dresser we have rescued. We got it through an online auction – it wasn’t even curbed shopped! It had dirt, grime, cobwebs, spider eggs and mould. I was oh so close to putting it at the curb for someone else to rescue but I had a vision. We bleached it and washed every inch before beginning our usual prep work.
We painted it in Fusion Mineral Paint’s new colour, Pressed Fern. It is a gorgeous dark, vibrant green and the perfect background colour for our faux bone inlay stencil.
You can read more about our process for painting the perfect coat here.
The process – how to stencil on wood furniture
Step 1 – plan where to place your stencil
We picked up this pretty Moroccan Inlay stencil by Martha Stewart Crafts from Michaels for less than $10. It has multiple patterns, florals and geometric lines. Spend some time thinking about where you want to apply each pattern. For the faux bone inlay look we applied the geometric patterns along the edges and the floral patterns in the interior areas of the top, sides and drawers.
Mark out the centre lines where you want your stencil to go in pencil. If you’re doing concentric patterns, it is easier to draw them out on your furniture ahead of time.
Step 2 – tape down your stencil
Place your stencil and secure it with painter’s tape. We usually use this brand. I’ve also heard other furniture painters use spray adhesive to hold the stencil down. We have tried this technique but find it hit or miss. If you get a very fine spray, it works well. But if your spray glue gets slightly thicker on the back of the stencil, it starts to leave little lumps on your furniture. Not good. I’d rather sacrifice a tiny bit of paint bleed under the stencil (which might happen just a bit with tape) then cause damage to the paint coat of the underlying colour.
Step 3 – apply paint to your furniture stencil
The real trick to successfully stenciling on wood furniture without bleeding is to use very little paint. You want your paint brush to be almost dry when you apply it to the stencil. When you get some paint on your brush or pouncer, dab off the excess on a paper towel before you apply it to your stencil.
You can use a stenciling brush, a pouncer or a roller to apply the paint to the stencil. We have always gotten the best results using a stenciling brush which you use in a light circular motion. The fine little hairs are tightly packed and designed to apply the paint without slipping under the stencil.
If using a pouncer, dab lightly from directly above the stencil. If using a roller, press lightly as you gently roll over the stencil.
Step 4 – Repeat for inlay/folk patterns
You don’t have to wait for the stenciled pattern to dry before you lift it. Just carefully lift it away from the furniture and place it in the next spot you want to stencil.
Every couple times you apply the stencil you should check to make sure no paint has bled under the stencil so that you don’t get that paint on the furniture when you set it down for the next repeat.
If you are creating a repeating pattern, line up your next stencil over the last part of your previous stencil so you have the right spacing.
Step 5 – touch up any stencil bleed
Some bleed (paint that has gone under the stencil) may be okay depending on the look you are going for. But if you want a crisper look, use a small touch up brush with your base coat colour to make the necessary corrections.
Step 6 – protect your stencil on wood furniture
After your stencil pattern is fully dry, seal your furniture with your preferred top coat. Wax or a polycrylic varnish will both work.
The after – green dresser with stenciled faux bone inlay
We made it! After many repetitions, and more than a few touch ups, this green faux bone inlay dresser is done and just gorgeous.The new gold coloured hardware from Lee Valley really adds a special touch too. Green and gold is always a fantastic combination on furniture!
What do you think of this transformation? Have you tried stenciling furniture? How did it go? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!