How To Care for your Industrial Stencils

With proper Care and Cleaning of your Industrial Stencils, they can be used almost forever.  

We will talk about cleaning and storing stencils to get the maximum usage out of them.  

Before Use:

  1. Unroll and allow stencils to "relax" and lay flat.  If they have been stored for a long time in a rolled format they can take a few hours to flatten completely.  Putting them on warm pavement in the sun or in a warm room will speed up the process.
  2. Prior to use apply silicone spray on the top surface.  In general the LLDPE plastic we use is not an easy surface for paint to adhere to.  Silicon spray will make the stencil even less receptive to holding paint. 
  3. Spray the paint where it needs to go. Not on the stencil.  All the paint on the stencil is wasted and is costing you money.    We recommend using a narrower nozzle then the standard 4 inch line nozzle.  Get a wand so that you can get the proper spray width without beding over.   

 Stencils can carry a lot of paint and are still useable.  But overtime the openings will get clogged or at least somewhat distorted.  Also as paint builds on the stencil it gets heavier, messier and more difficult to store. 

Cleaning:

  1.  After each use or each day of use, clean the stencils.
  2. If you can,hit them with water at the job site prior to loading them in your truck.
  3. Back at your home site give them a quick cleaning. 
  4. The basic process is SOFTEN, PEEL, and STORE FLAT
  5. Try to soften the paint.  For water base paint best practice is to soak the stencils.  For larger stencils you can roll them up and put in a drum.    After 15 minutes  most latex will soften and often it will peel off in sheets.  You can help it with a soft nylon bristle brush
  6.  If the paint has been on for a few days, and is completely cured, it will be more difficult to soften.  It does not expand and bubble off of the plastic as much.    Really hot water works better and will soften most water based paint that we have worked with.  We recommend trying to get the paint soft before becoming more aggressive with the scrapers, and harsher tools. 
  7. Once the paint it soft it will tend to want to peel or flake off.   use your hands or a soft bristle brush
  8. Solvents work but the paint will turn into a tarry, sticky goo and that is also a mess to remove.  ( rags and paper towels.) 
  9. Obviously for solvent based paints the appropriate solvent is required.  It helps to have a lot of it so you can soak.   Use proper gloves, eyewear and protection.   
  10. If the paint is on their hard and soaking is not helping, the task becomes more physical.  Also remember that the stencil only really needs to be clean at the openings.  Use a scraper of your choice to clean the openings  Try to avoid damaging the plastic.  
  11. A light coating of paint on the stencils does not impact them in the slightest.  The idea is not a perfectly new stencil but a usable one.  Use abrasive pads or scrapers but try not to damage or rough up the plastic. 
  12. Powerwashing can work as well.  Aim the spray at an angle to the plastic, use the less harsh nozzles and be careful with pressure.  Red nozzles are a no go.   We have a customer that swears by a 15 degree yellow  nozzle, but we like our green fan nozzle that is 25 degree.  (The nozzles are color coded.)  The idea is to get cleaning without roughing or tearing the plastic.  Our pressure washer gauge is unreliable so start out with low pressue and work up.  
  13. We always clean the stencil prior to storage. 
Storage:
1.  60 mil and 125 mil we recommend storing flat or on its side. On their side they need support front and back as they will slump.  For really big stencils we have two sheets of ply wood and lean one against the wall, Put up to about 5 stencils and cover with another piece of ply wood.   
2.  Hanging storage:  The best solutio that we have seen is hanging storage.  Drill a 1/4 or 3/8" hole in the stencil ( insure that there is at least 1 inch of material all arount the hole. )  We saw this in a customers truck.  it was clean and tight.
3.  While it is not optimal.  We have stored our 60 mil rolled for over a year without an issue.  This can make sense for really large stencils.  4 x 8 sheets etc.. Just leave some time to let them relax before use.  I am not sure how the paint will impact their ability to unroll.

 

 

Stencil Ease Team