Which material is best for a spray painting stencil? (tips and video)

Which material is best for a custom spray painting stencil?

The most common material for stencils is Mylar – and for good reason. It is flexible, durable, easy to clean and long lasting.

10mil Mylar is our preferred thickness for its flexibility, durability and versatility.

Other options include adhesive backed mylar, magnetic, acrylic or wood stencils. Mylar, even though thinner, will be more durable than acrylic or wood.

Read on below video for more on mylar and other options.

Which material works best for what application?

5/16″ MDF (.3125″, or 312 mil).02″ Magnet (.5mm, or 20 mil)20 mil mylar film (.5mm, or .02″)
10 mil mylar film5 mil reusable adhesive
Spray painting equipment, floors, parking lots. Durable, but will break with pressure.
Custom wood stencils available on request.
Perfect stencil material for painting metal objects. Sticks on flat and slightly curved surfaces. Reusable, very long lasting and fairly durable.Great for spray painting, good fit for large numbers, letters and low detail. Very durableSpray, Rolling, brushing applications. Good all around thickness. Outdoor/indoor.
Reusable for 5 to 12 or more times, depending on how clean adhesive side is kept in between uses. Great for painting on walls and short term projects. Light tack, will remove easily. Do not leave on for more than the time it takes to paint – after a few hours a more permanent bond starts to happen. Can be used to spray or brush paint on.
  10mil Stencil20mil Stencil Adhesive 5mil Magnetic 25mil 
Smaller, Finer Details✓ Ideal
  ✓ Ideal 
Larger Details  ✓ Ideal  
Small Sized Stencils ✓ Ideal  ✓ Ideal 
Large Sized Stencils  ✓ Ideal  
✓ Most Versatile

Summary: 10mil offers best versatility and is recommend for almost all applications and for small details;

20mil best for large parking lot style stencils; adhesive and magnetic for specific applications

How thick is our custom stencil material? Use this conversion guide to help
5 mil0.13 mm0.005 in
7 mil
0.18 mm
0.007 in
10 mil
0.26 mm
0.01 in
20 mil0.50 mm0.02 in
312 mil7.94 mm0.3125 in (5/16″)

What is Mylar?

You probably have heard the brand name “Mylar”, often used to generically describe plastic film. However, Mylar is really a brand name for polyester film.

In reality, Mylar is a registered trademark for a brand of biaxially oriented polyester film (BOPET) that belongs to Dupont/Teijin Film Enterprises. There are many different grades and finishes offered, and we offer one of them in our 10mil Mylar film.

So if you have a need for honest-to-goodness Mylar polyester film, we can help, whether you’re referring to Mylar in the generic sense, or you actually need Mylar branded polyester film from Dupont/Teijin Film Enterprises.

How durable are Mylar plastic stencils?

Extremely durable – they have high strength, very flexible. They will bend almost in half (not quite), roll up just fine without loss to original shape and can be cleaned with chemicals.

Just watch us jump on and drive over this stencil 3 times.


3 thoughts on “Which material is best for a spray painting stencil? (tips and video)”

  1. I need a stencil to identify loaner life jackets for kids. Mylar or brass just fine. Text is 3/4″ and 1/2″. Line 1 is 3/4″, LOANER, line 2 is 1/2″, RETURN TO, Line 3 is 1/2″, OH MARINA. Can you help me?

  2. I need a stencil of my company’s logo. The logo will be painted on a 1″ piece of metal so I believe the optimal size will be 3/4″ tall–length is not an issue. Can you help?

    1. Hi Mark! Sounds like something we can do, I’ll have one of our stencil creators reach out directly to get you what you need.

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