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Printing Directly to Drafting Film
Mylar Stencil Film Supplies:
Sheets and Roll
Ideal Stencil Film Thickness
Mylar Stencil Film Supplies:
Sheets and Roll
Stencil film roll

What is the Best Thickness for Stencil Film

The thickness of most of the films that you will find on the market that are suitable for general stenciling purposes, are going to sit somewhere between the 3 to 5 mil (75 to 127 micron ) mark. These films are generally going to be composed from some variety of polyester (Mylar) or acetate. Both of these materials have a certain amount of toughness and resilience to water and solvents and both can be cut with a sharp knife without too much strain.

Painting a 20 ft high tree mural can just as successfully be accomplished with 3 mil thick material as it could with 10 mil thick material. Of course the thicker material would indeed be more robust and perhaps easier to handle for this scale of project. Most of us most likely wont be painting 20 ft high trees too often so the choice of thickness becomes a little easier.

From my experience in stenciling, stencil thicknesses of between 3 to 5 mil will do for just about all ar any of the projects we are likely to encounter with the exception of plaster stenciling where thickness counts if you want that raised look.

A stencil material that is durable, easy to cut and holds good detail and is over 4 mil is difficult to find on the retail market. The most commonly available films that are suitable for repeat stenciling are usually around the 3 to 4 mil range. They include acetate film and a variety of polyester (Mylar) films including Drafting film .

The real issue in most cases is not so much thickness as durability. some folks believe that thicker means longer lasting. Not so....keep in mind that we are using these stencils as a simple mask to paint through.

If you fold a crease in a stencil, irrespective of how thick or thin it is, you will ruin it. If you let paint dry on it for weeks, it will be difficult to remove. Thicker films could in this case be less prone to damage incurred by rough cleaning practices than thinner films.

If you walk on it or drive your car over it repeatedly, then it wont last very long. Thin film like 3 mil drafting film will last for many years and hundreds of impressions, if you look after it, treat it with respect and clean it carefully after using it.

Below is a list of film thickness that will be mostly suitable for a variety of painting projects. Its only a rough guide but will serve to give you a ballpark figure for consideration.

Ideal Stencil Thickness for :
Fabrics: 3 mil to 5 mil
T-shirts and other garments, curtains, wall hangings.
Wall painting: 3 mil to 5 mil
The only advantage of going thicker is a little extra manageability.
Plaster Stenciling
Here you require something a bit thicker: at least 10mil and preferably thicker 0.015" (0.38mm)   to   0.074" (1.9mm)
Canvas Art: 3 mil to 5 mil
Just as in fabric painting 3 mil to 4 mil is sufficient.
Industrial Stencils: Polypropylene
Airbrushing: frisket
Frisket is a very thin, self adhesive film suitable for cutting the stencil directly onto the artwork.

001" 1mil (25 micron) to . ..002" 2 mil (50 micron)

Difficult to cut large pieces, but very durable. Use polypropylene up to 2mm thick.
Common Film Sizes:
1.   .002"     2 mil     50 Micron
2.   .003"     3 mil     75 Micron
3.   .004"     4 mil     100 Micron
4.   .005"     5 mil     127 Micron
5.   .007"     7 mil     175 Micron
6.   .010"   10 mil     250 Micron
1 millimeter = 1000 microns
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