Most stencil designs require gaps, also called “bridges.” So why do stencils have these gaps? In short, they help to make your design sturdy and in one piece. If you would like to know more about what stencil bridges are and how we use them, check out our sister article on the subject. Although they are essential, stencil bridges leave gaps in the final design once it is painted. Here are a few methods on how to fix and fill stencil gaps if they are not to your liking.
Method 1: Color match acrylic paint
The easiest way to fix gaps is to use paint to cover them. Acrylic paint is accessible and fast drying, and can be used on top of other types of paint such as spray paint and house paint. Make sure the finish of the acrylic (matte, satin, semi-gloss, gloss) is the same as the finish of the original paint.
We recommend using some scrap paper to spray or paint a swatch of the color you are looking to match. Make sure the paint is dry before starting to mix your acrylics. Use small amounts of paint at a time until the mixed color matches the original color.
Using a small brush, dab small amounts of paint into the gaps in the painting.
Method 2: Covering stencil bridges with spray paint
Cutting surface (such as a cutting board or cutting matt)
Using spray paint to cover gaps in a stencil design involves creating a secondary “stencil” on top of the original design. Let’s take this “8” stencil from our curb kit for example.
1). Paint stencil with spray paint
Spray paint the stencil like normal onto your surface of choice. As seen on this 8, there are four gaps in the design. We want to cover those gaps to connect the pieces together for a seamless design.
2). Trace stencil onto paper
Wait until the stencil has dried. Lay a sheet of cardstock paper underneath the stencil where the bridges you wish to cover are located. Trace the stencil onto the paper, making sure to trace where the bridges are located.
Remove the stencil and use a pencil to draw in the missing areas. We had 4 bridges to connect on this 8 stencil.
Shade in the gaps to make it clear where you will need to cut.
3). Cut out bridges with Exacto knife
Place the paper on top of a cutting surface. Using an Exacto knife, cut out the shaded areas. This will create a second “stencil” to cover the unpainted areas.
Place the cardstock on top of the painting to make sure that it covers the correct areas. It is OK if there is a little paint showing through the holes.
4). Re-paint stencil with spray paint
This “stencil” can be painted like the original stencil. We recommend using some sort of stick to hold down the paper while spray painting to prevent it from moving.
5). Remove paper stencil
Wait a few seconds for the stencil to dry, then gently lift up the paper to remove it.
Although this method can be detail oriented, it is a foolproof method for those that would like to cover stencil bridges with spray paint. The time it takes is dependent on the complexity of the stencil.