How To Use a Stencil With Stain

2:03 PM

You guys, I am so excited to share how my doors turned out. It's exactly what I envisioned in my head. I love it when that happens! The process was pretty simple too, which is another bonus.


I think with the popularity of stencils these days most of you are pretty familiar with how to stencil with paint, right? I've even spent my fair share of time stenciling, but I wanted this to be different. I really wanted to maintain the linear look of the wood grain that continues across all the cabinets, and paint would just mess it up.

I got the idea from deep in the storage banks of my brain. A couple of years ago I was watching Debbie Travis and they stenciled the phrase for hello in a different language with wood glue before the stain was applied. It left the wood in its natural color, but I loved how subtle it looked. So once I had my stencil I mixed up a little wood glue and water together and rolled it over my stencil. Just like you would stencil with paint you want to make sure your coverage is very thin and build it up from there.

With the wood glue being pretty much clear it can be a little difficult to see where you have already stenciled. I just tilted the door so that the light would catch the glue to help me see.

When you're happy with your stenciling and the glue has dried it is time to stain! I used an old cut up t-shirt to apply stain. Just dip in in the stain and spread it over the wood. Don't worry about where you stenciled, you can stain right over it.

Once I finished staining the front I took another t-shirt rag that was dry and rubbed the surface to soak up any extra stain that was just sitting on top. This also helps clean up some of the stain off of the poofs. If you look at the last picture the are much darker than they are in this picture.

I left the stain to dry for one day and then applied two coats of poly to finish. But before you poly you will want to sand down the rough edges from the wood glue. It shouldn't take much, I just used a fine grit sponge sander until it was smooth. If you want your finish extra smooth give it a light sanding between coats.

Here that are, all back where they belong!


I really love how the wood grain continues through the dandelion poofs. I'm even happy with the way the stain and glue edges kind of feathered together.

And how they are all a little different thanks to some of the glue mixture seeping under the stencil.


Here's the whole room! You might be sick of hearing this but, I love it! I lurve it so much.

Now I just need to figure out what to do for the countertop. So, have you come up with an interesting way to use a stencil? Would you ever try this technique? If you do I would love to see it!

Nikki Kelly

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123 comments

  1. totally awesome idea! it looks terrific! great job!

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    1. I stumbled across your blog because of the paint by numbers search result and now I can't stop reading! I saw a really cool stained wood growth chart that looked like a 5 foot ruler on pintrest. I am going to use this idea and do something even cooler! So excited, thank you for being generous with your creativity, these ideas will help with decorating geared toward my two new babies!

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  2. these turned out amazing! awesome job!

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  3. This is a little irritating. You have the most amazing ideas!

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  4. I better clarify that my previous comment means I love it. My husband tells me that I should sometimes clarify that my jealous hate comments about projects means that I like it.

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    1. Well, I think your sense of humor is irritating! Why can't you just be boring when you write like the rest of us? ;)

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    2. Tee hee. You just made my day. :)

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    3. Ha ha you ladies crack me up this morning, love love love the post I am definitely going to try this thank you for sharing, and thanks for the chuckle ladies, have a great day ��

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  5. Never would have thought of that! Bravo!!

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  6. WOAH! What an impact! Beautiful!

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  7. I remember that Debbie Travis show! I actually did this technique on a cabinet a while back. Your's looks amazing! Found you on HOH. Thanks for sharing and great job!

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    1. It's so funny what sticks in your brain for years! And then the things you can't remember for five minutes. What did you do on your cabinet doors?

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  8. That is so cool! What a neat idea. I love the stain as well. I need to remember this for another time. :)

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    1. The stain is just off the shelf Minwax Classic Grey. Such a nice color.

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  9. I love this tutorial and i love your yellow walls!

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    1. Thanks! Where else can you go a little crazy but in a studio?

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  10. It looks AWESOME! Great job :)

    -Bonnie @ Revolutionaries
    www.revolutionariesblog.com

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  11. Looks awesome! I love figuring out ways to play around with stain in interesting ways and will definitely be adding this to my arsenal. Thanks for the tutorial!

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  12. This is seriously so incredibly awesome!! I love that you can still see the wood grain, and your stencil technique is perfect! So honored to be featured with you at tt&j.

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  13. Wow! This is SO cool. I love the idea, and I love your room. Thanks!

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  14. Great idea! What a wonderful way to add drama to a wood piece! I just pinned it!

    Have a blessed and wonderful day!
    karianne

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  15. awesome - "resist embossing technique" that scrapbookers users - loved it.

    I think the counter top should be a dark color, even black, to make it pop and ground that back area.

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  16. What an awesome idea! I think it turned out great...now I'm mentally going through possibilities for me try this....a table top maybe??

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  17. ok... i swear i am not an idiot... but i really want to know how you did this... exactly.

    you used a stencil? what kind? like a sticker.. and then glued it down?

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    1. Yes, the dandelion poof stencil was from Cutting Edge Stencils (there's a link to the exact one in my post). Then instead of using paint I just used some watered down wood glue. Once it's dry you can stain with regular wood stain. Hope that helps!

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    2. Hi Nikki ~ Although it doesn't look like it, I assume the glue is left on the wood. Is that right?
      Beautiful job btw!

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    3. Yes! just leave the wood glue to dry before you apply the stain. I only sanded the glue to soften the edges from where it was stenciled. Good luck!

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  18. I am absolutely in love with this. It looks fantastic!! I can't wait to try it myself. :)

    Leshia @ www.southernchiclove.blogspot.com

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  19. This is beautiful and oh so very clever! I love how it turned out - well done!

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  20. Hello! I loved your idea and the name of yout blog! Thanks for sharing... Could u tell us the amount of glue and water for the mix on the stencil? I want to try it at home... Thanks!!! - Mariella.

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    1. I didn't really measure because the glue was drying out really fast. If I had to guess I would say probably half and half. I was looking for a paint like consistency and the wood glue was very thick and sticky. After finishing the stenciling I wondered if Mod Podge would give the same results since its glue like and an easier consistency to work with. I would try it on a scrap piece first though. Sorry I can't be more helpful.

      Nikki

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  21. What a gorgeous dresser! I love it. Thanks for sharing :)

    - Jennifer @ JennJill Designs
    www.JennJillDesigns.com

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  22. I love this! What a great idea & I never would have thought to use wood glue! Been brainstorming a way to do this for a looong time. Thanks so much! I shared this with my readers and sent them here for the full tutorial, Have a good weekend!

    http://ninered.blogspot.com/2012/10/spotlight-stenciling-with-stains.html

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    1. Thanks so much! I'm glad this could help you out. I'm over checking out your blog right now, btw ilove that striped dining table one of your readers did! Beautiful.

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  23. looks great...where did you find that faux animal head?

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    1. I actually made it for Xmas last year! the best thing is that the lightbulb nose lights up too! here's a link.

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  24. WOW!!! Gorgeous! I love the stencil design you chose as well as the stain color. Pinning!

    <3 Christina at I Gotta Create!
    Wildly Original linky party is open

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  25. You did a FANTASTIC job on this! I am so impressed! From now on, I will keep in the back of my head the glue trick on stain :)

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  26. Loved the cabinets, they are beautiful. You inspired me to do a stencil on my table and chairs.

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  27. I love this!!!! But one thing....after you stain you sand the wood glue off?? Please help I really want to try something like this for my daughters room. :)

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    1. I didn't sand all the wood glue off, just enough to knock off the rough edges from stenciling. I'd love to see your daughters room when you're done!

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  28. Do you know of a good website to get smaller scale stencils other than the website in your link? I want to use this idea for my mom for Christmas

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    1. Well I know that the craft stores have smaller stencils, cutting edge has smaller craft sized stencils too. Maybe check out royal design stencils too.

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  29. I am making a headboard in a few months and wanted part of it stained darker than the rest, this was extremely helpful although I just might be going in reverse so that the larger part is lighter and the stenciled part is darker. Thanks for the post!

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  30. Ok I did this, but I think i failed.. I felt like the stencil bled.. So I sanded it all off with a hand sander and started over.. then i felt like I didnt put enough on bc I couldnt see the detail and I couldnt realign the stencil, so I hand sanded it off (no handsander) Well then I finally got the stencil to lay nicecly..and I stained it, some stain DID stick to the glue however it IS lighter, not as nicely contrasted like yours. and THEN sadly, b.c i only hand sanded the previous mess up out...I have those attempted erased ones coming through.. SO i had to sand them more,, then restain those areas however some of the old is in with the new ...ughhh I think now that i got the roller pressure and consistency correct I need to just sand it alll down and start over :( But I put so much time into it, more than I should have..

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    1. OMG! I'm sorry you had such an ordeal with your wood glue. Just to be hoest with you, my glue bled a little too. I think it's ok on the nature inspired stuff, as in it makes the dandelion poofs look a little different between oneanother, but i bet it would not lend itself as nicely to more geometric patterns where you want a nice crisp line. I'd love to see pictures of how it turned out though, maybe on my facebook page? Good Luck!

      Nikki

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    2. Oh, and as far as the stain showing up on the wood glue, you might want to try rubbing it off more. You can see how dark the dandelions are while I applied the stain in the 5th picture, but later its much lighter. I just had to rub rub rub!

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    3. I tried again today. Im satisfied with it.. its not as perfect as yours though, but then again your color is darker as well. I think my issue was the wood was bleeding the water part of the glue. I mixed it 3 parts glue to 2 parts water to kind of make it less watery, it still bled a little bit. It wasnt the stencil itself, or how i was applying it, it was the wood sucking in the water. Im not sure how I could avoid that b/c if I condition the wood first, I have to stain like immediately which wouldnt allow me time to stencil. lol. Id love to share with you, Ill have to find your facebook page. At first I used several 2x10's cut down 24 inches by 50 inches wide.. and put them side by side.. I gave up on that and this time did a solid piece of oak for above the bed. Thanks again for a great tutorial. Im glad I didnt give up!

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  31. wow,your wall is really nice..Is that wallpaper?

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    1. It's actually paint! The stencil is the birch all over from cutting edge design.

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  32. OMG!! I found your awesome project on Pinterest a couple months ago.!! I used Mog Podge it was so much better than the wood glue!! the Wood Glue on My samples just didn't pop like yours. I did use a home made rust/vinegar stain so that may have made the difference but the wall hanging i made is exactly what i wanted!! Thanks for inspiration!!

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    1. That's awesome! I'd love to see your wall hanging too. Do you have a blog, or maybe you could send a picture my way.

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  33. OMG! I found you on Pinterest a couple Months ago!! I used the Mod Podge and it was so much better than the wood glue on my samples. i also used a home made rust/vinegar stain so maybe that was the difference. But i am so happy with how my wall hanging turned out, it's perfect, thanks for the inspiration!!

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  34. Gorgeous ! Thank you for the tutorial!

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  35. This would be fun on a fence! What products would you use for outdoors?

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  36. I wonder where you found that stencil I just Love it

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  37. I love this. I just liked your FB page. You are very clever and talented.

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  38. I love this - I'll try it tomorrow. I just liked your FB page and will be reading your blog! www.paintedpastdesigns.com

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  39. i am preparing to do this on two dressers for my bedroom but im having the hardest time finding the right pigmented stain, what color/brand did you use for this??

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    1. The color I used was Classic Grey from Minwax. It's a premixed color so you can get it right off the shelf! Good luck, I'd love to see it when you finish!

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  40. i have started this project today, with the stencil portion it was kinda hit and miss not knowing measurements and what kind of glue you used but i figured it out and the first couple there was a bit of bleed,for a couple of them i didnt mind because it makes it a little hap hazzard, but there was one i had to sand away because it was a big blob, i had added toooooo much water to my glue. i learned the less glue mix the better cause you can always go over it again as long as its starting to dry, i also noticed when you re-use the stencil it gets gunky but can be wiped with some 409 just be ready for some mess, I am staining two dressers i bought them from ikea unfinished and tomorrow i hit them with some stain im excited to see it come together! thanks for this project, its coming together.

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  41. Love, love, love this!!!
    Where did you get the stencils??

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  42. Definately want to copy you....luv it, got to have some!

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  43. What a fun, new idea to incorporate stain, Nikki. This looks great and the colors are fantastic together.
    -Bruce Johnson
    www.minwaxblog.com

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  44. I love this I think I will try this myself I just have to decide on what I would do it on. thanks for sharing. did you make your own stencil?

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  45. Simply beautiful!! I am getting ready to stain our back deck (trying to salvage it for a few more years). I am going to try this for sure!! :)

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  46. Just beautiful. Wondering if anyone has tried hand painting on the wood instead of using a stencil?

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  47. Wow, these doors are so unique and make such an amazing statement piece! Talk about combining art and function! A beautiful way to dress up a craft room. Love it!!

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  48. I'm a tad late to this party but ...happened on this fab idea just now! I absolutely love it

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  75. Hello there . Thank you for sharing this incredible technique .Maybe it is late to ask , but could you please tell me what are the exact glue and stain used in this project since in the country I am the product's name are really different compared to those in English . I have already made 2 tests with a wood glue that I have and a commercial wood stain , but there are no results . I followed your procedure slowly and with care , but despite that once I apply the stain , everything is covered normally . ...... and there is no sight what the wood was processed before that . Thank you very much . :)

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  93. Did you have an issue with bubbles in the glue? Mine has these tiny little bubbles that kept popping up. I think it's from using a foam brush.

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    1. Just a little update. I decided to go ahead and stain the wood despite the bubbles in the glue. I lightly sanded some of the rough stuff, then stained. It turned out really well. Much better than I anticipated.

      I do have to say, however, that there were a couple of knots in the wood and in those spot the stain bled entirely through. It was almost as if there was no glue in on top of the knots. For my project, it just makes it look more rustic and charming, but just something to look out for.

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