The paint you use with stencils is the same as that which you use in any other painting process. Because of this, you can remove paint from stencils in the same way as you would remove it from other surfaces. Effective removal requires a combination of sanding, chemical remover and scraping of the stenciled surface.
Paint removal is destructive by nature, therefore, if the subsurface is finished in any way, you will need to refinish it to restore its proper look. If you are careful during the removal process, damage to the subsurface will be slight, cutting down the refinishing efforts required.
Things You'll Need
Brushable chemical paint remover
Medium-grade steel wool
Clean the stenciled area to remove any dirt. Use a cleanser formulated for the specific subsurface containing the stencil. Clean with a damp sponge, to prevent soaking the subsurface. Allow the surface to dry for two hours before proceeding.
Lightly sand the surface of the stencil to remove any protective finish and to break up the surface, opening pores in the top of the stencil paint.
Apply a brushable chemical paint remover over the stencil. Make sure to use a paint remover formulated for the surface on which the stencil is applied. Brushable removers are thick enough to use on vertical surfaces as well as horizontal. Pour the remover into a small, wide-mouthed metal can. Dip the brush into the can to gather the remover and then brush it onto the surface in a thick layer. Allow the remover to sit on the surface of the stencil for the amount of time suggested by the remover manufacturer.
Line the bottom of a cardboard box (small enough to hold with one hand) with newspaper to serve as a catchbox for the paint remover.
Remove the paint remover and the stencil paint beneath by scraping it away with a 4-inch scraper. Push the scraper through the remover and paint into the surface beneath and drag the scraper across the surface. Catch the paint/remover mix in the cardboard box.
Scrub the surface after the removal with medium-grade steel wool. Scrub in a small circular motion to remove any small bits of stencil paint left from the paint remover.
Rinse the surface with clean water to remove any residue left from the paint remover.
Wear chemical-resistant gloves to protect your skin while applying the paint remover.
Work in a well-ventilated area when using a chemical removal agent.