Using our Stencil Kits

A few quick notes before you begin:  

Military aircraft painters use PPG Aerospace Deft (and similar) two part epoxy coatings- this requires a skilled technician to apply properly.  It is unnecessarily difficult for home simulator applications.

For home-use simulators, a high quality latex paint found at your local hardware store will yield great results and allow for easy touch-ups and repairs. For best results, apply paint with a sprayer or use a roller with leveling thinner additive such as Flood Floetrol properly mixed into the paint.

  • Measure the area
Use a ruler or measuring tape to measure the out the area where you want to apply the stencil. Make a note of the dimensions on a piece of paper.  Remember, aircraft markings are hand-applied on the jets by humans.  Variances exist in real-world applications, so don't stress too much over dimensions and unreasonable accuracy.  
  • Cut the stencil
Your stencil comes in long rolls.  Some may require cutting to accurately place, others may be laid out perfectly for application.  Use the application guide emailed to you for your specific kit as a reference.  Cut the stencil to the desired size using a sharp craft knife or scissors. 
  • Weed the Stencil

Weeding is the process of removing the unused portions of the stencil.  Your Stencil comes unweeded so that you can choose the best way to use your stencil.  You'll need to carefully plan how you will layout your stencils and then remove the portions of the stencil where you want to allow paint to reach the surface of your cockpit.  Be careful and go slowly.  Pay special attention to any small details you want to remain in place and use the tools to carefully navigate them. Most craft stores and many online vendors sell weeding tools.  Here is one example of a tool kit that would work.

  • Apply Transfer tape

In order to transfer the stencil to the surface you want to paint, it will be necessary to apply transfer tape to the stencil.  After you have cut out the stencil you want to use, lay the stencil on a flat surface.  Put transfer tape over the top of it and smooth it out to remove all wrinkles.  

  • Carefully align the stencil
Place the stencil on the skin of your airframe and align it with the measurements you made earlier. Use painters tape to secure the top edge of the stencil to the cockpit skin.  
  • Peel away the backing paper

Fold the stencil up from the taped edge, and carefully remove the backing paper.  Pay close attention to any center cut-outs, like the triangle of the letter A.  This is especially important on smaller lettering.  Make sure that it stays attached to the transfer tape and in the correct position.  If one comes off with the backing, recover it and carefully align it on the transfer tape where it belongs.  Make note of it, because it will likely fail to stick on the cockpit skin and you will need to repeat the preceding process to affix it to the cockpit skin.  

  • Gently place the film

Working slowly and methodically, gently curl the stencil downward onto the cockpit skin.  Using a credit card or card scraper with firm pressure, work from the top edge of the film and scrape downward and outward from the center of the stencil being careful to remove all bubbles and wrinkles, especially at any edge that will receive paint.  Continue working from the attached edge back towards the unattached edge of the stencil, carefully running the card scraper from the middle of the stencil out to the edges.  Once the stencil is fully applied, use the card scraper and go over the stencil repeatedly with firm pressure to ensure good adhesion.  

  • Remove transfer tape

Once the stencil is applied, carefully examine it to ensure there are no air bubbles, especially at the edges of cutouts where paint is to be applied.  Carefully lift one corner of the transfer tape, peel it back at about a 45° angle and slowly pull away the transfer tape.  It is critical that you go slowly.  If the stencil film starts to lift, use the card scraper to hold it in place.  Pay close attention to any area that is small, such as the center triangle of the letter A.  Make sure it stays attached to the cockpit skin.  If it peels away, carefully remove it and reapply to the skin using firm pressure.  Be sure to locate it correctly.  

  • Seal and Mask the Stencil

Although it is not a requirement, some users prefer to use a sealer such as readily available Mod Podge to seal the stencil along the cutout edges that will receive paint.  This will prevent bleeding under the stencil. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendation for drying.

To protect your cockpit from overspray and drips, it is recommended that you mask off the rest of the cockpit using plastic sheeting, masking paper, and/or painter's tape.  

  • Apply Paint

We recommend two thin coats of paint.  Make sure you wait the appropriate amount of time between coats according to your paint manufacturer's specifications, but move on to the next coat as quickly as possible. Cured paint runs the risk of peeling off with the stencil.  Using a sprayer, spray paint, or a foam roller, apply the paint to the stencil.  Be careful to follow the guide for your chosen stencil to ensure you paint the correct colors in the correct places.  If your stencil requires multiple colors, you can mask off the cutouts you do not wish to paint with masking paper and painters tape.  We recommend not covering any of the smaller pieces, such as the infamous center of a small letter A, of stencil film or any already painted areas with painters tape as it may pull off when you remove the painters tape.  Use masking paper instead. 

  • Remove the Stencil Film 

It is best practice to remove the stencil while the paint is still wet.  Removing after curing can lead to paint peeling off.  Carefully peel away the film and discard.  Go back and make sure you removed the center parts of small lettering, etc.   Congratulations and enjoy your new markings!