Modello Stencil FAQs

Knowledge is meant to be shared!

Modello® stencils offer a unique, exciting, and almost limitless way to engage with surface decoration. Here are a few of the questions we hear again and again. For more tips, help and inspiration, check out our How to Stencil pages!

Modello® Stencil Basics
What is a Modello® stencil?

A Modello® stencil is a one-time-use, adhesive backed vinyl stencil. Modello Designs pioneered the use of custom-cut, vinyl stencils for interior decorating back in 2003, and we’ve helped thousands of customers create the perfect pattern for their project!

A Modello® stencil consists of 3 layers. The vinyl pattern is sandwiched in between a thick, waxy-type Backing Paper to protect the adhesive, “back” side of the vinyl, and a thin Transfer Tape that holds the design together as it is applied to the surface. Once the Modello® stencil is safely transferred and burnished onto the surface, the Transfer Tape is removed and the fun begins!

◄ How is a Modello® pattern different from a traditional stencil?

Both traditional stencils and Modello® patterns provide a fast, easy way to transfer a decorative pattern onto a surface. Traditional stencils are cut from a rigid, durable plastic material called mylar. The design elements will be separated by breaks in the design known as bridges-uncut areas that create the design and hold it together. Modello® vinyl stencils, on the other hand, can only be used one time.

◄ Where does the Modello® name come from?

The Modello® brand is a registered trademark of Modello Designs. It loosely translates from Italian to mean, "pattern" or "I model", making it the ideal name to represent both the product and decorative techniques that Modello® stencils have become known for.


Modello® Stencil Advantages
▼ Is a Modello® vinyl stencil easy to use?

Yes! Modello® stencils are super easy to use, as long as you follow our installation instructions. The adhesive quality of the Modello pattern allows you to create patterns with crisp clean design lines-eliminating any stencil “Bleed Under” problems that are common with traditional mylar stencils. 

◄ Do Modello® stencil smake the job faster?

Definitely! Once the Modello® stencils are installed completely on your surface you can complete your decorative treatment in a fraction of the time it would take to use an ordinary mylar stencil. There is no need to reposition the pattern multiple times, or to stop and clean a stencil, or to fix “mistakes”.

◄ Do Modello® stencils expand my range of decorative options and surfaces?

Definitely! Visit our Professional Technique Tutorial Pages to learn exciting new ways you can incorporate paint, plaster, metal leaf, metallic foil, stain and more to create incredible surface treatments.

The adhesive quality of Modello® stencils also means that you can use them to create grand ceiling treatments, on glass and mirror, and for decorative concrete work-in addition to all the standard surfaces such as floors, wood, walls and furniture.

◄ How large can the designs be created?

There is virtually no limit to how large we can cut Modello® stencil. Larger designs are cut in individual “Tiles” that line up perfectly with each other as you install them to create one large design. This ability to create designs of unlimited size is impossible with traditional mylar stencils.

◄ Can I get the pattern cut in reverse?

Modello® stencils offer the ability to apply paint or other decorative application in the Standard “positive” design area, or in the Reverse “negative” space surrounding the design. This option is not generally available with traditional mylar stencils and allows you to create the look of inlaid patterns using paint and plaster materials. Simply choose your Image Option from the stencil drop-down menu.

◄ Can I get a design that doesn't look like a stencil?

Yes!! That is one of the biggest advantages of using a Modello® vinyl stencil. Because there is no need for connecting bridges we can create and cut design with intricate, connecting lines and incredible detail.

Ordering Custom Modello® Stencils
▼ How do I order a Modello® stencil?

We have hundreds of stencil patterns ready to order in the standard size of your choice on our Stencils Collection Pages. You can easily filter our collections by design style (Art Deco, Ornamental, etc.) or by design type (Medallions, Tiles, Panels, etc.), making it easier than ever to find the stencil pattern you need for your project.

Simply select your choice of size and other options from the dropdown menus and your Modello® stencil will be cut and shipped within 2 business days.

◄ Can I customize an existing design?

Yes! If you don’t find the size you need offered or need to customize an existing pattern in any way, simply click on the Customization Request Form link. Fill in your request details and click send to receive a quote for your customization. (Generally within 1 business day for simple requests)

◄ Can you help me create a unique Modello® stencil design for my project?

Custom designs are our specialty! We have a talented team of graphic designers that can work with you to create a “New for You” stencil pattern. Visit our Custom Design Services page for more details.

Surfaces and Surface Preparation
▼ What types of surfaces can a Modello® pattern be used on?

Modello® stencils can be used on a multitude of surfaces. The ideal application for a Modello® stencil is any smooth, sound and cured surface. Some of the surfaces include: walls, ceilings, floors, glass, furniture, hardwood floors, stone tiles, and polished concrete.

◄ What types of surfaces should Modello® patterns not be used on?

Do not use Modello® stencil on any surface that you cannot be sure is clean, dry and stable. If there is any moisture in the surface, the Modello® stencils will not adhere well.

Likewise, a Modello® stencil will not adhere to dusty or dirty surfaces, perhaps from sanding or ongoing construction.  

Surfaces where adhesion of paint layers is suspect should be avoided. The adhesive quality of Modello® stencils can cause the same issues as painter’s tape on both freshly or improperly primed and painted surfaces, including new drywall.

Textured surfaces can also be problematic for Modello® stencils to adhere to, particularly if they contain some kind of aggregate. Textured surfaces also include woven fabrics and canvas, unless they are primed and painted.

◄ How long do I need to let a freshly painted surface cure before applying a Modello® stencil?

Most Latex wall paints take a full month to cure completely. You should wait at least 2 days to use a Modello® stencil on freshly painted walls. Metallic paints can take 3 to 4 days to dry and cure sufficiently, but this can vary depending on humidity and other environmental issues.

Your surface should be completely dry before applying your Modello® stencil, and the adhesive vinyl will not stick well where there is trapped moisture present.. In cases where many layers of paint or plaster have been applied very quickly, there may be also trapped moisture issues. This can create a bonding issue with the surface-so make sure that your surface is completely dry and cured before proceeding.

◄ What is the best prep for "new construction" walls?

New construction can be particularly problematic for adhesive stencils.  We recommend that you prep your surface with a product called Zinsser Gardz after the Joint Compound/Drywall mud is applies and BEFORE priming.  Gardz is readily available at most home improvement stores and paint stores. The advantage that Gardz provides is that it creates a mechanical bond and applying two coasts of Gardz will help “Lock Down” the chalky surface before you prime and paint.

Many of our long-standing customer swear by Gardz, and even use it over previously painted surfaces as an “insurance” measure.

◄ How can I test my surface before using a Modello® stencil?

We want you to be successful with your project and are very happy to send out complimentary material samples of our various masking materials upon request. Simply call or email us! We also include "test strips" of the material you have ordered in each Modello® stencil order.

◄ How long can I leave a Modello® stencil on my surface?
This will depend on environmental conditions, the type of material you are using and the surface you are applying it to. A good general rule to follow is to simply remove your Modello® stencil as soon as possible after your technique or product application has had a chance to fully dry and bond to the surface.
Storing and Installing Modello® Stencils 
▼ How long can I keep or store my Modello® stencil before using?

Both your Modello® stencil and the Transfer Tape that secures it are cut from adhesive-backed materials. Adhesive materials are adversely affected by both light and heat. As long as you keep your Modello loosely rolled or lying flat in a cool, dark and dry place you should be able to keep it up to 6 months or more.

◄ What type of environmental conditions should I be concerned about?

Even if you plan to use your Modello® stencil in a matter of days you should avoid exposing your Modello® stencil to direct sunlight and heat. For instance, don't leave it lying on the back seat of your car or in your trunk in hot, sunny weather. Extreme atmospheric heat and humidity can also affect your Modello® stencil application. Heat and humidity will make the adhesive more "sticky". Try to work with your Modello in a cool environment or early in the day in hot, summer months. You can also "chill" your Modello® stencil in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before applying.

◄ Why must I burnish the Modello® stencil before applying it to my surface?

The Modello® stencil is cut from an adhesive material that is sandwiched between the Transfer Tape on top and the Backing Paper behind. In order for the design to release cleanly and easily from the Backing Paper, the Transfer Tape needs to be securely bonded to the Modello pattern in the middle. Laying your pattern out flat on a hard surface and giving it a firm burnish with the squeegee (provided in your order) will aid in a successful transfer of the Modello® stencil to your surface.

◄ After being rolled up for shipping, my Modello® pattern looks a little "wrinkly". Will this affect my installation?

It may not look pretty YET, but it will not affect your Modello® stencil installation. The wrinkles you see are generally only in the Transfer Tape, which gets removed and is not really part of the "pattern". Once you place your Modello® stencil on a hard surface and give it a good solid burnishing on both sides you should have no problems installing it and the wrinkles will all "go away".

◄ My Modello® stencil is very large. Can I cut it down/apart before applying?

Certainly! Some people prefer to have their Modello® stencil pieces as large as possible to eliminate the need for pattern matching along the seams. Others like to have smaller, more manageable pieces to work with, particularly if they are working alone. You can cut down your Modello® stencil with scissors to any size you want. We recommend cutting as much as possible around the design though, so it will be easier for you to match the pieces back up on your surface.

◄ What happens if I "mess up" on my Modello® installation?

If you carefully position your Modello® stencil correctly on your surface, secure it well and follow the Basic Installation Instructions, you should not have any problems installing your Modello® stencil successfully.

"Stuff" happens, though. Most minor issues can be fixed. If something major happens, such as putting the pattern on upside down, we can re-cut your pattern or a portion of it at a 30% discount.

◄ Are there ways to fix installation "issues" such as wrinkling, bubbling, and stretching of the material?

The Modello® stencil is actually very forgiving! If there are any trapped air bubbles under the vinyl they will not be a problem. Your main focus should be around the edges of the pattern as you will want a very tight bond here. Any small wrinkles around the edges of the pattern can usually be worked out with a fingernail or your squeegee. If any piece of the pattern has gotten caught under itself or kinked up, use the Weeding Tool to lift up the pattern from the surface, smooth out and reapply. Sometimes, areas of the vinyl may get "stretched". In that case, use a craft knife or Exacto to splice the vinyl overlap the pieces a bit to get it to lie smoothly in place.

◄ How do I get the individual "tiles" that make up my overall pattern to line up perfectly?

First, lay all of your individual Modello pieces out on the floor to make sure that you understand how it will all fit together, to check and make sure the pieces line up and that you have everything in the size you need. After installing the first piece, you will want to peel back the Transfer Tape along the edge where the next pattern piece will meet so it is easier to match up the design elements. The honest answer is that it is very difficult to get your pattern to line up perfectly each time. You will probably need to make some minor adjustments to get your designs to line up; small gaps between the sections of vinyl can be filled in with tape or you can use the Weeding Tool (included with every order to lift the vinyl) and "stretch" and/or move it slightly to meet up.