Stencilling produces an image or pattern by applying pigment to a surface over an intermediate object with designed gaps in it which create the pattern or image by only allowing the pigment to reach some parts of the surface. The stencil is both the resulting image or pattern and the intermediate object; the context in which stencil is used makes clear which meaning is intended. In practice, the (object) stencil is usually a thin sheet of material, such as paper, plastic, wood or metal, with letters or a design cut from it, used to produce the letters or design on an underlying surface by applying pigment through the cut-out holes in the material.
The key advantage of a stencil is that it can be reused to repeatedly and rapidly produce the same letters or design.
A common tradition for stencils is in arts & crafts. Home decor stencils are an important part of the DIY (Do It Yourself) industry. Stencils are usually applied in the home with a paint or roller brush along wall borders and as trim. They can also be applied with a painted sponge for a textured effect.