Have a yard sale piece that needs a project? Why not stencil it? Here’s a simple tutorial on how to stencil wood with step-by-step instructions.
Raise your hand if you have a project going on.
At this very second.
Raise both hands if you have more than one. Or more than two. Or maybe 17 consecutive projects that you have either started or plan to start or have sitting up in your guest room closet yet unfinished.
Come sit by me.
Right now we are in the middle of building a fence and adding a brick rain gutterway and building organizers in Westleigh’s closet and adding new window latches to the front room and refinishing this dresser and sewing a pillow and distressing baskets and several other projects that shall remain nameless.
See what I mean.
So many projects? So little time. Good thing this one was easy and only took me three Gilmore Girl episodes to finish.
Here’s how to stencil wood and makeover a dresser with a little paint and imagination.
HOW TO STENCIL WOOD: PAINTED DRESSER DIY
white acrylic craft paint
stencil (I used this one here)
small painting brush
step 1: paint the dresser
This is where we started.
This is what the dresser looked like.
It came from a thrift store with a damaged wood top and sides and it was originally painted white.
For this project, I wanted a new base coat and something with a little more depth, so it was painted SW Sandbar.
You know I love a good gray paint so CLICK HERE to see my favorite gray paints that I use over and over again. (#4 is my favorite).
Here’s the dresser with its first coat of paint.
It’s darker than it looks in the pictures.
This room gets tons of natural light, so it appears lighter.
step 2: choose your stencil
I wanted to add flowers to the dresser, but I wasn’t sure if I could paint them how I wanted them, so I found this stencil with the perfect flower pattern.
You can see it here.
I ordered it online from Michael’s. It actually comes with two different sheets. There’s an outline of the flowers and the basic floral pattern you see here.
I used the top sheet and cut it into smaller pieces to make it easier to work with.
I placed them on the drawers to get an idea of where they would go and what the pattern would look like.
step 3: best tip ever for how to stencil wood
This is my BEST tip if you are going to stencil wood.
Repositional Spray Adhesive.
This is the spray that I got at Hobby Lobby.
For a flat surface like wood, it made the project SO MUCH EASIER.
If you want to see how to stencil other surfaces than wood, CLICK HERE to see how I stenciled concrete.
Simply spray the back of the stencil, then press into place. I only sprayed the back of each of the stencils once and it was sticky enough to use over and over again.
Simple tip: make sure to spray LIGHTLY. You don’t want to overspray and have it dripping down the sides of the dresser.
Here’s the stencil mid-stamp without me having to hold it. It stays in place and makes the entire project so much easier.
step 4: add paint
Take your stencil brush (you want to make sure you have a brush with a flat head to prevent paint from seeping under the sides of the stencil) and lightly pounce the paint into the corners of the stencil.
I wanted my dresser to have a faded vintage look, so I only used one coat of paint and applied a light coat.
One thing that I want to point out with this stencil project is that there’s not that much contrast between my two paint colors, so just between us?
It made stenciling easier.
If you want to learn how to stencil on wood with high contrast project (for example—like a navy dresser with a white stencil pattern) then you would start by painting the base coat on the stencil, letting it dry and adding two coats of the white. It will take a lot longer than three episodes of the Gilmore Girls because you have to let the paint dry between stencils, but your pattern will be clean and crisp.
Step 6 how to stencil wood: add additional stencils
I also added the smaller floral stencil to the three top drawers.
Quick tip for how to stencil wood: depending on how vintage you want your dresser to look, you may need to go back and touch up the stenciled areas to give it more definition.
I did that with the flowers to make them a little crisper.
You can also leave the flowers a little faded if you like, too.
Stenciling gives you a lot of options for a project.
Step 7: add decorative details
I love the look of the stencil, but I thought the dresser needed a little more pattern to make it stand out.
Use a small paintbrush and your acrylic white paint to add these.
Here are some of the decorative details I added:
- I painted dashes along the raised edges of the drawer
- I touched up the flowers to make them stand out more
- I added dots underneath the dashes to add another pattern
- Next, I added dashes to the corners of the drawers
- And lastly, I drew in vines with tiny leaves
Step 6: seal finish
You’ll want to make sure and seal the stenciled finish on the dresser so it doesn’t chip or wear off.
This is my well-used can of Polycrylic.
It’s my go-to sealer. If you use a sealer on the project, you want to make sure it’s water-based. Water-based products will dry clear and not yellow over time like oil-based products have a tendency to do.
It comes in satin, semi-gloss and gloss. Choose the finish that you want and paint a coat on with a brush.
Step 7: add hardware
After the dresser is dry, add hardware.
Here are the crystal knobs that I added.
See the knobs here.
Here’s the painted dresser.
Can you even believe the difference?
Let’s look at the before and after one more time.
Here’s the before how to stencil wood picture.
And here’s the after.
Isn’t she the cutest dresser you’ve ever seen?
And all it took was learning how to stencil wood, a little paint, and a lot of imagination.
Here are just a few of the things I learned along the way to make this project easier:
- If you have wipes, keep them close to you. You’ll need them to wipe away any excess paint.
- Keep the stencil coats light, you don’t want too much paint or it will glob on the dresser.
- If you want to know how to prevent stencil bleed, stencil with the brush straight on, not at an angle and make sure to use the stencil adhesive to prevent the stencil from buckling or pulling up.
- Using craft paint when you stencil cuts down on drying time and makes the paint dry faster.
This stenciled dresser is finished.
One project down.
I only have 16 more to go. 🙂
PS Here are just a few more of my favorite furniture projects:
- before and after farmhouse hutch
- how to crackle a table with glue
- my $10.97 farmhouse table
- this simple way to update a bookcase
Here’s a video of the project I created over on my YouTube Channel.