How to Write on Wood Without Bleeding

If you’re interested in creating wood signs for your home or to sell to others, using wood sign stencils and paint is one of the most popular methods. However, many people quickly realise that the paint is prone to bleeding on wood grain. 

If you’ve been struggling with this problem, you’re in the right place. You can follow the steps below to learn how to prevent most paint pens from bleeding when designing wooden plaques.  

Choosing Your Materials

  • Blank wood is ideal for painted signs due to how they’re easy to use and cheap.
  • Sandpaper is needed for sanding down wooden surfaces that are rough. 
  • Glue, Elmers Glue, or Mod Podge is needed to stick the stencil edge to the entire surface of the wood. 
  • Acrylic paint is ideal for DIY projects on raw wood surfaces. It’s your best shot at preventing your paint from bleeding excessively. 
  • If you want to make your own stencils, you’ll need to use a vinyl stencil. 
  • Transfer tape also comes in handy if you’re applying multiple stencil designs to your wood. The tape enables you to accurately position all of your designs. 
  • Sponge brushes are needed to evenly spread your paint across the entire stencil. 

Starting the Design Process 

  • You may need a cutting machine to cut your material to make it your ideal size.
  • Begin by getting rid of the negative space around your stencil design. 
  • Use transfer paper to move your cut stencil onto the wood. 
  • When it comes to writing words or phrases on wood, you’ll need a separate stencil for each letter. 

Drawing On Wood Using Acrylic Paint

  • Acrylic paint is best for drawing/writing on wood due to its vivid colors and how affordable it is. Furthermore, once the paint has dried, it’s less prone to bleeding.
  • Chalk paint is an alternative option, however, it’s more prone to smearing and bleeding.
  • Once you’ve moved your stencil to the wooden surface, start by painting the simplest part of the design. Be sure to start with a thin layer to get used to how much the paint runs.
  • To improve the paint consistency, be sure to paint from the inwards out with a light coat. Most people use a sponge brush for this method.

Also read: Best Spray Paint For Wood


So, that concludes our post on how to write/draw on wood without it bleeding. If you find that the paint has become too thick in one area, you can use a dry cloth to lightly dab it to keep it even. This is a quick and easy way to fix stencil bleed.

It’s also best to use a paint brush with light coats to begin with and add more ink flow to the pallet wood gradually.

Implementing the tips mentioned in this post will help you to design wood for your own house or to sell it to others without any signs of bleeding….and remember, be sure to have fun making these designs! Happy sign-making.


How to paint on uneven surfaces?

If the piece of wood has uneven areas, you can use sandpaper to make those spots smoother. Before applying your first coat to the wood, be sure to test out your basic colors on a small section of the wood. Let it dry completely and see if it bleeds or not. 

To speed up this process, use a hair dryer on the wet paint to dry it faster.

Can you use latex paint on reclaimed wood?

Yes, a paint pen containing latex can be used. However, it’s best to test out these paint pens on a piece of scrap wood. This is to check on the amount of paint bleed you get.

Can you use a permanent marker to stencil edges?

Yes, alcohol markers, such as Sharpies work well for creating a silhouette cameo on stained wood.

Can water-based paint pens be used for hard surfaces?

Yes, water-based pens can be used to draw/write on wooden surfaces. However, a foam brush will work better than the best paint pens when it comes to using paint markers for wood.

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Written By Adam Rushton

Adam has made a name for himself in the illustration industry and is a passionate blogger and writer on the subject of art, illustration and graphic design.

His artwork has been featured in countless publications and used for very well-known media projects. As a professional illustrator for over 20 years, Adams media outlets, a wealth of knowledge, and experience enable him to consult and advise artists and illustrators in this country (from York and Manchester to Southampton and London) and all over the world.