How to use Stencil Vinyl

Use stencil vinyl for high impact signage and complex patterns.

Painted signs offer a truly traditional feel. Achieve accuracy and complexity using stencil Vinyl (aka paint mask).

We discuss here the benefits of using stencil vinyl and offer ‘how to’ guidance on working with it.

A painted sign has a traditional feel.

It is hard to date a painted sign and they offer a sophisticated professional look.

Before the invention of CNC and laser technology signage would have been painstakingly created by hand.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if all signs were still made like this? Well, it’s a lovely thought but not practical. The art of freehand signwriting is a niche skill and in most cases prohibitively expensive.

Masking vinyl so much more convenient. It ensures accuracy yet the result retains the “look and feel” of a traditional hand-painted sign.

Paint ColoursPaint

There are so many wonderful paint colours to choose from. This part of the design is exciting and options are boundless.


A painted sign will have great longevity providing the paint quality is good and applied to a well-prepared surface.

painted sign to tongue and groove wall

Large painted lettering on tongue and groove wood panelling at Battersea Power Station development. Normal sign vinyl would not work well around the ridges of the wood. Painting is the best option. Design/Holmes Wood. Installation/ Standard8

Complexity and Accuracy

Be it lettering or complex graphic patterns, stencil vinyl allows the production of highly complex graphics. The plotter cuts from information received in a digital vector file. Designs can therefore be easily repeated, edited and scaled.

Hoppers Restaurant, Kings Cross, London

Complex ceiling panels produced by Rag Arts for Hoppers Restaurant, Kings Cross.

painted patterns for ceiling panel of Hoppers Restaurant Kings Cross, London by Rag Arts

Intricate patterns with a distressed paint effect for ceiling panels. Created by decorative artists Rag Arts for Kings Cross restaurant Hoppers.

complext stencil vinyl

Complex stencil vinyl in preparation in our Studio

preparing stencil vinyl

Masking vinyl stencils in preparation at Inkmill Vinyl.

Stencils are prepared by hand once the plotter has cut the design the intricate design.

painted panels in production using stencil vinyl

Painted panels in production using stencil vinyl. Stencil vinyl is cut using a digital plotter allowing the production of intricate and complex designs, not achievable by hand.

Painted lettering directly to the concrete ceiling surface

Painted lettering directly to the concrete ceiling surface

Examples of painted text quotes applied onto the ceiling and under stair area of The Foundry, Social Justice Centre. Graphic Design/ Richard Wolfstrome. Installation/ Standard8

Paint Effects

Many exciting textured finishes and brush effects can be achieved when using paint. Stencil vinyl has been used in the example below to re-create old signage during a refurbishment of an industrial building in central London. The lettering is a replica of the original signage that would have existed in this old industrial building.

Detail of Ghost graphic lettering on old brickwork

Detail of ghost graphic lettering on old brickwork achieved using paint stencil

Ghost graphics on brickwork of old industrial building

Grain House marketing suite. Ghost graphics painted onto brickwork to give the illusion of an original sign. Graphic Design/ Everything in Between. Installation Standard8

Signs for non-flat Surfaces and brickwork

Choose paint for non-flat surfaces such as bare or painted brick work or concrete.

Concrete is porous and retains moisture making it not suitable surface for applying vinyl. Vinyl will not adhere to bare brick work which is textured or dusty and not be suitable for vinyl applications.

Painted lettering applied to grey concrete.

Painted text to concrete, The Foundry, Social Justice Centre, London.

Painted signage lettering onto brick using low tack stencil vinyl at The Puma Non-Corporate Box at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. Realisation and installation/Standard8

How to use stencil vinyl?

We would recommend following this method for the best results.

  1. Firstly ensure your surfaces are clean and dry as advised by the paint supplier. Any freshly painted surface should be left to completely dry out for a minimum of 3 days to ensure the vinyl will stick.
  2. Next position and apply your stencil vinyl onto the chosen surface. See video that illustrates installing vinyl to wall.
  3. For best results paint a base coat that matches the existing wall colour, this helps to give a crisp edge and avoid any paint bleed.
  4. Once the base coat is fully dry apply your contrasting colour in one or if necessary 2 coats depending on the paint.
  5. Lastly slowly and carefully remove and discarding the stencil vinyl when the paint is absolutely dry.
painting a 'we are open' sign at Battersea Restaurant

Our team installing a painted sign on a wooden tongue and groove wall at Battersea venue.


And finally….It’s important to take note that Stencil vinyl is a one-use vinyl. Therfore it cannot be re-applied once removed.  Consequently if you are looking for a repeatable solution you may want to get in touch with out team regarding ridgid laser cut solutions.

Further Guidance

Our team are here to assist with your particular project.

T + 44 (0)1273 417605         

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