I'm going to share the 3 tricks I've used to fool everyone into thinking my stencilled window sill is real tiles!
But lets start at the beginning. The first thing you need to do with any stencil project is measure your space. My window sill is 8 inches deep. So I asked Rick to make me the 8 inch and 4 inch stencils size for me to choose from. In the end I went with the smallest stencil size, as I think this works best in my space.
The next thing you need to do is prep your surface. This is the most important step to get maximum durability. As I'm painting onto wood, I lightly sanded my window sill to create a key for the paint to grip to, and then I wiped everything down with a damp cloth.
Now you're ready to paint! I used Valspar Wood and Metal paint in the v700 premium blend in Downing Street and Dairy Belle. This is what Marie used on her skirting boards and interior woodwork, these tins are left over from decorating her hallway and stairs. She prefers this paint because of the the vast colour choice and eggshell finish. But there are lots of other paint brands that have great woodwork options too.
Always read the instructions on the tin before you get stuck in. These can differ between brands, so always check and then follow the advice given to get the best out of your project. I did two coats of Downing Street with 2-4 hours drying time between coats.
Okay, here is my first trick! To make it look like there are actual tiles laid on top of my windowsill, I only painted the base colour 1 cm down the edge. I used masking tape along the front of my windowsill to get a nice clean crisp line.
I started stencilling in the middle of my window sill so everything would be nice and symmetrical. I'm using an old stencil brush that I have had for years. We sell these brushes alongside our stencils, and they're a great investment. We have four sizes available, this is the size Large, I really like how it fits in my hand. It's also a great all rounder for small and large projects.
Don't be tempted to try using a standard paint brush, you need the flat bristles to "stab" the paint over your stencil. You could also use a small dense foam roller to stencil onto wood, but I wanted to create a chalky textured effect, and a brush is going to give me that. A foam roller would create a more consistent smooth finish.
Now lets talk technique. It's amazing how many people comment on our videos saying "Wow! I could never do that!" but stencilling is so easy once you understand how much paint you need to use. If we were to give one vital piece of advice it would be LESS IS MORE!
If you have never stencilled before, make sure you practice before you start your project. Use the back of an old cereal box or some scrap paper, and get used to how little paint is needed to create a nice clean crisp line. Then you can go into your project with confidence and actually enjoy the process.
I dipped my brush directly into the paint tin but only lightly touched the surface of the paint with the tips of my bristles. I used the paint tin lid to dab excess paint away, and then rubbed the bristles on some cardboard until they were virtually touch dry. You can see how little paint there is on the end of my stencil brush.
You then want to use a "stabbing" motion with your brush, but don't press down too hard, let the brush do most of the work for you. You'll see the paint slowly but surely begin to build up and become more dense. You have to be patient! Stencilling isn't hard and is super cost effective, but it does take time if you want amazing results.
Here's trick number two! I really wanted this to look like authentic tiles so getting super clean lines was a must. I took my time building up the layers of paint so I could stop when I had a cloudy finish, rather than a solid colour. It's such a small space that I could have easily stencilled this in under 1 hour using a dense foam roller. But you get out what you put in and I wanted realistic tiles!
It took me a couple of hours to complete all of the full tiles. Then I had to tackle the corners and edges. So there are two ways to do this; you can either bend your stencil or cut your stencil to fit flush against your wall.
This is the main reason why all of our tile stencils are a 2x pack. So you have an extra stencil to bend and cut where needed. We would always use 2 stencils for our own projects, so wanted to make sure out customers have the same. Its also nice to have a 2nd stencil spare if you can get a extra pair of hands to help speed things up!
I bent my stencil as much as I could before cutting it, and managed to complete most of the edges. But there is no way to bend a stencil into corner.
It's time for my 3rd and final trick! I used a grout line stencil to paint a faux grout in between each tile design. This stencil is only available upon request. If you purchase a tile stencil from us and want a grout line stencil to match, we are happy to include this in your order at no extra cost, but you will need to pop an email through to prompt us.
I mixed my Valspar paints to create a dark grey grout colour, then used it sparingly with the grout stencil to create a textured concrete effect.
(At this point it was night time, I didn't have natural light, so please excuse the picture quality! I was just on a roll and didn't want to wait for the next day.)
All that was left for me to do was some touching up. This is normal with most stencil projects, even for us pros! Stenciling is such a manual process and we're only human, so mistakes are bound to happen. Just accept it as part of the process.
Because I used wood and metal paint there was no need for me to use a top coat. However, after all of those hours I put into my project I'd much rather be safe than sorry! All it would take is for one of the kids to put a glass down too hard for me to have a mental breakdown...
So I went for the Ronseal Interior Wood Varnish. Mainly because it was the smallest tin of varnish in B&Q at the time and I knew that I didn't need a lot. I followed the instructions on the tin, so applied 3 coats (lightly sanding before applying the final coat).
I couldn't be more pleased with the outcome. I love my window sill. One of the kids had to touch it to make sure it wasn't tiles. Made my day :)