Tips to Use a Mesh Stencil

Tips to Use a Mesh Stencil

If you create DIY projects often, you may find yourself wanting to use a mesh stencil. If you don't have a Cricut or vinyl cutting machine, mesh or silkscreen stencils are the next best thing to use. And in our opinion, they are even easier and quicker to create with than vinyl! When you use a mesh stencil with paint, you can save time and effort working on your project. 

Tips to Use a Mesh Stencil

1. Make sure your surface is clean, dry, and smooth.

  • If your surface is plain wood, make sure the grain is not raised up. Sand until your surface is smooth. 
  • When painting, make sure a base coat is completely dry before attempting to use a mesh stencil on it. You can use a hair dryer to speed up the process. But, I find that it is still good to wait several hours between painting your base and stenciling on top of it.
  • You also want to sand your painted surface lightly to make sure any brushstrokes that are raised up from the surface are gone. 
  • Once everything is sanded, use a cotton cloth (like an old t-shirt) to clean off the dust left behind. 

Once your surface is completely dry, smooth, and cleaned off you are ready to place the mesh stencil down.

Image of sanding versus not sanding while using a mesh stencil.

The image above shows a brilliant example of the difference in your stencil result when you sand your surface vs. not sanding. Can you guess which two pennants were sanded and which 5 were not? (Answer: top pink and green were sanded after painting and before the stencil was applied.

2. When you use a mesh stencil, make sure it is placed correctly.

  • Pull the mesh stencil off the paper backing and place on your surface.

  • You want to make sure that you pull the stencil taut enough that there are no bubbles or wrinkles anywhere. Run your hand along the surface pressing down as you go, to make sure it's completely adhered to the surface. If you come across a bubble, pull up that portion of the stencil and lay back down to try and get rid of the bubble. Repeat smoothing out.
  • The stencil will stick really well on metal or glass. Almost too well, it can take a bit to pull them up. But be careful when pulling up because the mesh screen can tear.

3. Once your stencil is placed properly, it's time to paint!

  • Do not use watercolor or a wet brush. You will want a dry brush and acrylic (or similar) paint.

  • Dip your brush in the paint and start dabbing it gently across the silkscreen part of the stencil. You want to make sure you use enough paint to cover the whole mesh area but you don't need to use a huge amount. Just enough to cover the space evenly. 

  • It is better to sort of dab at stencil versus using brush strokes. 

  • Do not clean your brush off and reuse with a new color. Mostly because your brush will be too wet and may cause the paint to seep under the stencil. Use a new brush with each different color you use in the same sitting. 

  • Once your stencil surface is covered with paint, you can pull it up and see your design underneath it. 

Example of painting technique to use a mesh stencil.

If you look closely at the image above, you can see that the paint has been dabbed on more than brushed on. 

4. A few other things to keep in mind when you use a mesh stencil on your DIY Projects.

  • Work reasonably quick. Do not let your paint dry while you are still stenciling.

  • Do not let your paint dry on the mesh once you've removed the stencil.

  • Use enough paint to cover the mesh, but no need to be excessive with your use of the paint.

Here is a video of our founder, Christine working walking you through her process when painting with a mesh stencil:

Follow these four steps to use a mesh stencil in your DIY projects and you should have a gorgeous product every time! 

Even so, click here to read a few more tips and tricks you can use when creating with mesh stencils. And also the mesh stencils are reusable, so be sure to properly care for them when you're finished using them.

Learn More: 
Troubleshooting to Perfect Your Stencil Technique
Caring For Your Mesh Stencils


  • Verdonna Childers

    Very useful and informative
    Thank you

  • Susan

    I would like to know how can I get mech stencil with my own design?

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