Stencil Film. Which one should I choose?

Ok.  You are up and running and ready to try your hand at painting a few signs.  You belong to more craft groups than you can count and you really want to make sure you are picking the best material for starting out your business venture.

You have seen people recommend shelf liner, 631, 651, 813, 811 and the list goes on and on….for a newbie these numbers are confusing and scary and you don’t want to waste your money, so let’s talk about what it all means.


The number one, hands down, cheapest item out of this list that you can pick is shelf liner or contact paper.  Many, and I mean MANY, swear by it.  They use it day in and day out and love the performance of it.

When I begin with my Silhouette years back, I also used contact paper.  It worked.  It got the job done.  But, I promise I was more frustrated than anything trying to get it on the signs and off the backing paper.  I would have to take a towel or the carpet or whatever I had that could add lint to my transfer paper so I could get it to release the thin contact paper from the backing.  Contact paper will work.  I don’t want you to think I am persuading you not to try it.

I really encourage everyone to try everything and see what works best for them.  There are so many options and each one will be beneficial to you in some way or another.

You can go to Dollar Tree and pick up a roll of contact paper for $1.  It’s worth it to test out for sure.  Let me know what you think about it in the comments below after using it.


The second item you can use as a stencil is 631 or 651.

631 is temporary vinyl and 651 is permanent.   In a pinch I have used 651 without a problem as it was all I had on hand.  It worked, but the tackiness of it will peel your paint if left on too long.  631 isn’t as sticky and doesn’t leave the residue that 651 sometimes leaves behind.  Both of these items will work, just like the contact paper but they weren’t “made” to be a stencil for signs.


After making signs for a while, I decided to take the “plunge” and order 813.  I don’t know why I was so scared for so long or so resistant to try it.  I can put into words how much easier it has made my job.  813 was made to be a stencil.

In fact Oracal actually makes 3 different types of stencils.  Oramask comes in 810, 811 and 813.  (810 also comes in 810s which comes with a solvent based adhesive.)

810, 811 and 813 are all 3mil calendared films with a low tack adhesive. What is the difference between the 3?

810- Made for flexible and uneven surfaces and water based paints.  If you use the 810s which has a solvent based adhesive you can use higher saturation solvent paints.  This would be used in automobile painting or marine applications. You may never need to try this but it’s nice to know what it is if you run into a need for it in the future.

811- Made for smooth, flat surfaces. Made to be used with water based/latex paints. White color and most people use it when etching items.  I feel like it is a little “less” tacky than 813.  It is actually great at not pulling up your paint from the background.  For example, if you are making a name sign you might use 813 for the main letter and 811 for the name going across the main letter. The 811 seems to help not pull up the paint from the main letter.

813- Made for smooth, flat surfaces. Made to be used with water based/latex paints. Blue Opaque Color and most people use it when painting signs.  The opaque blue allows you to still see your background.

If you have anything to add or take away from this, please comment below.  I am always learning and growing and willing to take advice from anyone to make my job easier.  I hope this offered some valuable insight and helps in your choice of what substrate to use when creating your masterpieces.  Until next time!

Happy Painting!!!
Milissa Martini Designs


Swing Design has great prices to try out a few of the options mentioned above.  Check them out by visiting their site and taking a look around.

Use Coupon Code: CAMEOSIGNS10 to save 10% off ANY ORDER.

CLICK HERE FOR 631 in 12×12 sheets for $0.65
CLICK HERE FOR 651 in 12×12 sheets for $0.59
CLICK HERE FOR 813 in 12×12 sheets for $0.65
(Orders over $35 ship for FREE)


***This post contains affiliate links.  It will not cost you anything additional to shop through these links but they do pay me a small percentage for referring you to their site which helps support this sites freebies and content. Thank You!





9 thoughts on “Stencil Film. Which one should I choose?

  1. Great article! I will say I also never had luck with con-tact brand matte or shelf liner as a stencil. However I’ve had amazing success with duck brand clear laminate for stencil and con-tact brand to transfer. I feel the duck brand acts more like 810. I wasn’t a fan of the 813. Mainly because it would pull paint or stain or I couldn’t burnish into the wood enough to prevent bleeds. Mostly on my rough boards that I wanted to keep rough and not sand smooth. I use it all though. Milissa you stated they all have a time and purpose and I totally believe that. For personal use I use my duck laminate to stencil for parties I like 813. Its more user friendly and easier on the eyes. If you take anything from Milissa’s article it would be try and experience all of it before you make your decision. Sample are available on many sites that are pretty affordable before you go a purchase a whole roll!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been using 813 and it works great as long as I use it in a sign that has been stained. If I use it in abpainted sign, it pulls up pieces of my paint (and tiny pieces of my wood) every time. I had decided to use 631 on paint until I red this. Now I think I will give 811 a try before I completely decide what to use.

    Liked by 1 person

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