Learn how to make a stencil with a Cricut machine! Adhesive stencil vinyl is a great way to make an easy stencil that will give you clean lines when painting. Learn how I painted concrete pavers using DIY stencils, outdoor acrylic paint, and sponge brushes! This post is sponsored by Cricut.
How to make a stencil with a Cricut machine
If you would have told me even a few months ago that I would be ecstatic with how a stencil project had turned out, I would not believe you. I have traditionally not loved working with stencils because I find it super hard to get clean paint lines.
No matter how hard I try to paint carefully and how much tape I use to hold them in place, there is always paint bleeding and smudging. However, using stencil vinyl when painting means that the entire stencil is adhesive and doesn’t move at all!
While you can’t reuse DIY stencils made using Cricut’s stencil vinyl (at least it would be really hard to), the great results you get make it worth the single-use for me. Even on a concrete paver that has a dimpled and imperfect surface.
Painting concrete pavers
I decided to try out my DIY vinyl stencils on cheap concrete pavers. We had a bunch of them in the backyard, and I was hoping to give them a facelift this season.
I just used acrylic paint for this—one was specifically for outdoors and one said it was “weather-resistant”—and didn’t add any additional sealant. So I’ll update this post with how the paint holds up. The paint really soaks into the concrete, so I’m not too worried about flaking.
Here’s exactly what I used for my stencil project:
- 12” by 12” concrete pavers
- Leaf shapes sizes accordingly in Design Space (see the exact shapes here, make sure you’re logged in to Design Space first)
- Cricut Explore Air 2 or Maker
- Stencil vinyl
- Cutting mat
- Sponge stencil brush
- Top Notch Outdoor Acrylic paint from Joann (a new brand for me!)
- FolkArt Multi-Surface Metallic Acrylic Paint in Malachite (6310)
And here’s how to make a stencil with a Cricut machine!
Step 1: Design your stencil in Cricut Design Space
I wanted to do leaf designs for my paver stencils, so I just searched different variations of “leaf” in Design Space. Since each of my pavers is 12” by 12” I made a square that size in Design Space to help visualize the designs. (I deleted the squares before cutting).
Step 2: Cut stencils on your Cricut Machine
The stencil vinyl doesn’t need to be turned over on the mat or mirrored. Lay the stencil vinyl on the mat and choose “stencil vinyl” in Design Space. If you’re using an Explore machine as I was, you’ll need to move the dial on the machine to “custom” first. Then select stencil vinyl.
After your machine does its thing, weed out the negative space. This might seem obvious, but I am so used to weeding out the vinyl around a cut design that I almost did that! For stencils, you’re obviously weeding out the actual design.
I mean, if that’s the part you want to paint. Basically, think of it this way: remove the vinyl in the areas you want to paint. Again, I know it’s obvious, but it did trip me up at first! You can leave everything else on the paper backing.
Step 3: Wash pavers
I recommend giving the pavers a quick scrub with any sort of mild soap. Especially if they’ve been sitting outside for a while as mine have. But they come pretty dirty even from the store.
At the very least, hose them off using the “jet” setting to remove debris. Then sit them in the sun to dry thoroughly. Getting the surface as clean as possible will not only help the stencil adhere, it will help the paint adhere too.
Step 4: Apply each stencil
Alright, I won’t lie to you here—the most frustrating part of this was getting the stencil in place! I wasn’t really thinking when I made these bigger stencils. I ended up having the most success peeling off the backing of the top part of the stencil first.
Then I tried to slowly peel the backing off as I positioned the stencil. Did this work each time? No, lol. Most of the time the stencil came off and stuck to itself. Or the wind blew and messed me up.
But the stencil vinyl is pretty forgiving, and I was able to easily peel it off of itself and positioned it on the paver. I was also able to reposition it without it losing too much of its stickiness. Overall, it was kind of tedious, but it worked great in the end.
Step 5: Paint in the stencils with acrylic paint
Now the fun part!! Look at the stencil kind of at eye level to see if you can spot any bumps or gaps between the vinyl and the paver. Smooth out as necessary, and gently apply pressure all around the stencil vinyl to get a good bond.
Use a sponge stencil brush to blot the paint onto the paver. This does wonders to help prevent bleeding. It also helps to stop you from peeling the adhesive up like brushing sometimes does.
Blot all over the stencil, checking the seal between the vinyl and the paver as you paint. When you’ve done painting but while the paint is still wet, peel the stencil off.
Careful! Paint is tough to get off of the concrete, so don’t let the wet paint on the stencil brush the un-stenciled area of the paver. I made one mistake that’s not that noticeable. Something to keep in mind while you’re working.
And here are the finished pavers customized using my DIY Cricut stencils!
Actually, I ended up going a little crazy and painting one of the pavers on top of our DIY concrete paver coffee table out on the patio! It’s a few years old now, so I thought, why not give it a bit of a face lift?!
It mostly holds plants these days, so the leaf stencils were very fitting. The Top Notch brand paint went on great, and the FolkArt metallic color is GORGEOUS. That was the last one I did. I didn’t know if it would be too showy, and now I kind of regret doing only one in that color/sheen.
Do you need to seal painted concrete pavers?
For these, no. I am choosing not to seal them. If you were doing something like a paver patio? I probably would seal them with something like a Thompson’s Waterseal brush-on sealer.
I will update this post in the future if the pavers begin showing signs of wear and peeling. For now, I think they will hold up pretty well since I don’t have them in the harsh sun all day and they aren’t subjected to foot traffic.