How to apply a vinyl stencil to rough pallet wood

Do you love the look of pallet wood decor? Do you covet those beautiful clean, crisp lines and wonder how they did it? Have you ever tried to use a vinyl stencil on pallet wood? If you have, you know that it doesn’t stick very well. And it doesn’t stay exactly where you want it to. If you try to apply it like normal, it just doesn’t seem to work. Once in place, have you noticed that the paint seeps under the stencil, giving you a finish that looks like your toddler helped you paint it? If you would like to learn how to apply a vinyl stencil on pallet wood? So you can begin the process of achieving those clean, crisp lines. Well, read on, my crafty friend. I will tell you the secrets of how to use a vinyl stencil on rough pallet wood.

First off you want to make sure you have your pallet sign made and ready to paint. If you want to know how to build your own pallet sign, here is a great tutorial, how to build a reclaimed pallet wood sign.

Step one:

To begin, you want to sand the wood just a bit. This will give you a little smoother surface to work with and also removes a little of the dirt. After you sand it down a little, be sure to brush off the saw dust as best you can otherwise you will hate this project and swear you will never do it again.

Step two:

Once you have the wood all cleaned off, peel the paper backing of your vinyl stencil off. Be sure that all the vinyl comes off and sticks to the transfer tape. Now center the stencil over your project. Once centered, press down very firmly to get it to stick as much as possible.

Step three:

After you have the vinyl stencil in place you are going to remove the transfer tape and make sure the vinyl stays in place on the wood. This is probably the most miserable part of the process, but “stick” with me, you can do this.
Begin by pulling up one of the corners. I always like to work from the corner so that it is pulling at an angle to the cuts of the vinyl. You will want to work very slowly at this process (painfully slow). You want to pull the transfer tape linearly back, not up, if that makes sense.

I find this helps the vinyl stencil to stay put a little better. As you are slowly pulling back on the transfer tape and it is coming off the vinyl, you want to make sure that the vinyl is staying on the wood. You may need to use your finger to hold the vinyl on the wood while you pull the transfer tape off. Especially the small pieces.


While working at this process, I will also use the handle of my scissors or my fingernails or something hard, to rub on top of the transfer tape and vinyl just before I attempt to take the transfer tape off. I feel that helps it to stick a little better too. Continue with this process until you have all the transfer tape removed and your vinyl stencil is in place.

Step four:

When the transfer tape is completely removed, firmly rub over the tops and edges of the vinyl stencil. This helps it to stick just a little bit more after being tugged at, and somewhat pulled up, while removing the transfer tape. Be sure to get the little teeny pieces too.

After you have pulled the vinyl stencil away from the paper backing, centered it and applied it to your project, pulled away all the transfer tape, and pressed all the vinyl firmly to the wood, you are ready to paint! Great work on this painful process! You did it! The hardest part is over, now for the fun part.

Happy crafting!

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