SayWhatStencils
As seen in Better Home and Garden's Paint Decor, Romantic Homes, Women's Day Walls and Windows, the San Francisco Chronicle, and on TV's The Christopher Lowell Show and Extreme Makeovers: Home Edition
 
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Are SayWhat? self adhesive masking stencils better than:
Stick on vinyl letters...

Another option for quality looking text is to have the letters themselves cut out of self adhesive colored vinyl, which you then stick on to your surface. This works quite well for certain situations- in fact, many commercial signs are made this way- and the application is fairly quick since you skip the painting step. We can make, and even suggest using vinyl stick on letters, but only where appropriate (feel free to ask). However we don't generally recommend it to our customers for home and craft use. Here's a quick comparison ***
*** For third party verification of these points click here or here

VINYL STICK ON LETTERS  compared to
COLOR:
Limited choice of colors, most commonly bright primary tones. Most vinyl letters also have a plastic look which can clash with nicely finished furniture and walls.
You can use any color you can produce with paint, plus the ability to do shading, half tones, embossing, antique or faux glazes, gold or other metal leaf, distressing, glass etching, automotive finishes,even make each letter a different color... an almost infinite number of possibilities.

SURFACES/LONGEVITY:
The vinyl will only adhere to certain surfaces. It is designed to work best on very smooth or specially prepared finishes, such as glass, enameled masonite, foam or gatorboard, finished metals (aluminum, steel etc.) vinyl banner material, and the like. It sticks OK to regular wall paint and smooth or finished wood for interior use, however it would not hold up for outdoor use on these surfaces..
Letters won't stick on fabric, rough or unfinished wood, stucco, or most other porous or highly textured surfaces.

Will work well on almost any clean, dry, surface, using suitable paints.

Ask if you have any doubt about your particular applications, we'll be glad to give you advice, and even send a free sample to try out if you'd like.

Most vinyl offered to consumers is rated 5-7 years indoors and 3-5 yrs outdoors Premium grade vinyl can last longer, but is much more expensive and is rarely offered as standard material. We will use it where needed. Painted letters will last indefinitely indoors, and 10+ years outdoors on clean, sound surfaces, using quality paint.
REMOVAL:
The vinyl letters will likely leave a difficult to remove sticky residue when you eventually want to take them off, and may even pull up the underlying finish. And you can't just refinish over them like you can a painted motif, they have to be peeled or buffed off.
Our low tack adhesive will remove easily, and because it's applied for only a short time, problems are extremely rare. In most cases you can just paint over your work when you're ready for something else.
APPLICATION:
The big plus of stick on vinyl is speed of application. Smaller vinyl letters can be applied very quickly in many cases, especially on surfaces designed for their use (see surfaces above). However, larger letters can be difficult to position and apply, particularly over 3 inches or so. The vinyl is very thin and buckles easily; creases and bubbles can be noticeable, though may settle out over time.
Very easy to apply on almost any surface, placing the stencil mask takes no longer than applying letters. From there it can require just a few minutes to paint a solid color, to a couple of hours if you are doing more complex color schemes, it's pretty much up to you. Bleeding (paint seeping under the stencil) is minimal if you follow our easy directions. We also have a NO FAULT replacement warranty if you have any problems.

COST:
Cost is typically much higher, and is commonly charged per letter, with larger letters costing more.

 

Just compare us to other companies that offer vinyl letters, we're up to 1/2 the cost. We price per foot for any font and size we offer.
Are SayWhat? self adhesive masking stencils better than
Plastic / Alphabet Stencils...
Plastic reusable stencils (typically 5 to 10mil polyester material) work well for many applications, especially for detailed designs such as our Embellishments designs, but typically need to have several overlays, and almost always have to be designed to work around the bridges.
BRIDGES:
Plastic-
To hold the letter centers and larger areas in, bridges are required. These end up on your finished work and look amateurish- you'll have to go back and paint over them to make it look right. This is time consuming and is hard to blend in properly; or...


SayWhat? masking stencils are entirely bridgeless, and take only one time through to paint. You save time, and the self adhesive feature reduces "bleed" under the stencil edge- your results look clean and polished. In fact, this is the same process used by professional signmakers.

Also, many decorative designs, which might normally need several overlays, can often be painted in one pass.
Some stencils use 2 or more overlays, which eliminates the bridges- but each such letter requires 2 steps to create; even more time consuming to paint, and you still have to blend the colors evenly
 
FONT CHOICES:
Plastic-
Because the fonts need to be customized for use with bridges, there is a limited number of letter styles and sizes to choose from.
We have over 50 popular fonts shown on our website, and we have thousands more available, and have access to many more. We can also produce special characters (á, ä, é etc.), foreign languages, 'dingbats', - in fact almost any character you can view on your computer or in print
We can also do a huge variety of decorative designs, and even use your artwork, or create original designs. And we will make the project the EXACT size and layout you need
There are literally MILLIONS of options.
 
TIME TO APPLY:
Alphabets- Difficult and time consuming to paint. To  figure spacing you have to "dry run" the text several times or guesstimate your final length. Any mistakes and you have to start over. Each letter has to be painted one at a time, and commonly used letters have to be moved from place to place; for example, the word "everywhere" has 4 e's- you'd have to paint the first one, and then move the 'e' stencil to the next location and the next and the next....; 4 steps with this single letter in one word. Plastic stencils can be pre-spaced, but can only be cut up to about 30"-48" length, so several sections are usually needed to complete even one sentence.
All text is complete, pre-measured and spaced precisely to fit  your wall area. There's almost no limit to the length or height- we've created projects over 300 ft long and letters 60 inches tall.. . Apply and paint- that's it. We can even cut curves, shadows, arches- just about any shape you can imagine...
 
Why is it so hard to figure spacing? Because just about every letter is a different size! At left is a simple example using a 3" capital S- not only are most of the letters different widths, the spacing between each letter (kerning) has to vary to make it look right. And it gets much more complicated with additional text and more complex fonts. It's almost impossible to figure the width of  more than a few words without specialized computer programs or tedious trial and error.
 
REUSABILITY:
Alphabets and Plastic-
Can be reused. One point for them; or is it?...
Plastic stencils are generally more expensive. And rarely is wording repeated in the exact some size and font... and many decorative designs only need one repeat. However, In those instances you may be doing multiple repeats, we offer substantial discounts on duplicate copies. We have many clients who use our stencils for crafts and signage and find them quite cost effective. And the significant time and effort saved, including no cleaning of the stencil required, will quickly add up, as well as knowing your project looks truly professional.
 

Other Options:

Hand Painting- if you're already an expert calligrapher- go for it! It's beautiful and rewarding. However, if you're not, it takes months or years of practice to perfect, and even then is still time consuming, plus you're usually limited to just a few styles. Even professional signmakers rarely hand paint- they instead use a process like ours!  We also have among our clients many professional fine artists.

Cutting your own- all the limitations of pre-cut alphabets, plus the additional pain of stencil cutting and cost of materials - you won't want to do it twice.

Projection- works OK, but requires a darkened room, a good ($300+) overhead projector, and a lot of time and patience. Any movement of the projector will distort your lettering. You also need to set up the text in advance, usually using a transparency . In addition, it's hard to get a crisp edge without a great deal of practice.

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