Rather, lack thereof.
Wasn’t I just writing about that?! Apparently, I’m not a quick learner. Don’t get me wrong; I’m really happy with my project. It looks just the way I envisioned it… minus a few cracks. It’s beautiful, bright, and functional. Mostly. Mostly functional. ( * sigh * )
You’ve seen the cool address signs on Pinterest, right? The ones that use tons of nails or screws? Like this one:
And don’t you think they’re just stunning? Like this one below:
Yeah, me too.
I’ve been in need of some sort of house numbers display since I changed out our porch light and knocked off one of the numbers during the install. (Which was years ago, friends.)
Yeah, well I never liked them anyway.
Since Mom’s been helping me cheer up my home’s lonely entrance, I knew it was time to take care of our house numbers display. Things are looking much more welcoming thanks to our efforts. I’m not ashamed to admit I live here.
Remember this dumpster find?
I pulled my color choice, the yellow-green, from this rug that would lay beneath the display. I had a vision, and I had a plan. As far as I was concerned, I was good to go. I even knew where it would hang. (*spoiler alert*) I just didn’t know how to hang it.
Making the House Numbers Display
In preparation, I read through this Instructables article, and this one here on The Refurbished Home. (Boy, was that blog a fun find. Amanda is pretty creative. When you get a chance, browse through some of her ideas.)
Both tutorials were super inspiring- but DETAILED. I’m just not a detailed person, friends. The thought of creating a spreadsheet to chart out my holes for pre-drilling, or picking out bits of paper between screws… No. I just can’t.
I went with a more freehand approach. And while my screws aren’t perfectly lined up, the finished result is great. I really am happy with it. If you’re more of a freespirit-creative type, read on to see what worked and where I failed. This project does take time, but it’s an easy one to do.
Get your game plan
What do you want it to look like?
I mentioned that I had a vision and place in mind for the finished project. It was going to be yellow-green, with sans-serif numbers made up of screws, drilled into a painted board, and hung above our entrance door.
So you need to choose:
- board size
- number style
- nails or screws
Where is your sign going to go?
This will give you an indication of the size your board will need to be.
Depending on your chosen location, you may or may not need a specific size. I had a range I could work with. The best scrap board I had that fit within that range won. There’s a downside to this though. The board I chose is a tad cupped. And it’s a soft wood.
Soft wood is much easier to drill into. However, it’s also more likely to split. And with all those screws (or nails) so close together- your wood will want to crack. You can see below that my board did begin to split in several places.
Hard wood is more difficult to drill, or nail into. But it’s less likely to crack, and more weather resistant.
Okay, friends. This is where I blew it. Take the opportunity now to think through how you’ll hang your amazing house numbers display for all the neighbors to see. Do you have a brick home? Stucco or siding? Do you mind drilling holes into the exterior of your home?
Good news for those with vinyl sided homes. There is a hook that’s available at nearly any hardware store. And it’s affordable, too! (I bought a set of 2 for $8.) The hook is designed to fit between the vinyl slats, without damaging or stressing them. Installation is easy- if you’re using them with vinyl.
I have aluminum siding. Given my penchant for changing my mind, I didn’t want to drill holes through the metal- you know, in case the project doesn’t work out. So I bought those ingenious hooks; because surely, surely they would work with aluminum as well.
So, my lovely sign sits on a nearby bench. But it’s only visible when you’re standing next to the door! Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? I’m still weighing my options of how to put that baby on display. And for sure, I’ll keep you posted.
Don’t make my mistake. Figure out how you’ll hang your address sign now- before you make it.
Prep & Paint
Once you have your plan, and you have your board cut to size, paint or stain comes next.
Give your board quick sanding, or more depending on it’s condition and the look you’re going for. Wipe it off, or vacuum the dust. I gave mine 3 or 4 coats of interior/exterior spray paint. I covered the board’s edges also, since they’d be visible. The backside I ignored.
If you’re going to stain your board, go ahead and coat it with an exterior grade poly, or some other sealer. You’ll want the wood protected from all the elements.
Now it’s time to trace your numbers onto your board. Well, once it’s dry.
I opened a new document in Google Docs and typed in my house numbers. I made them big; size 64. I picked a font I liked. I copied them, hit enter, and pasted them in. I changed that set of numbers to another font style I liked. I repeated the copy-enter-paste-change process until I had 4 or 5 sets that I liked.
Then, I deleted the ones I liked the least out of them all until I had one set left. I knew I wanted a sans-serif style, because they are much less complicated to render in screws & nails.
Once you have your numbers chosen make them as large as you can. Huge, actually. I made enlarged mine to 400, and they were still too small.
Change your printer set-up to landscape and print out your numbers. This may take some trial and error; it sure did for me. Lay your printed numbers on your board- how do they look? I had to enlarge mine with my copier/printer until they were the right size. This also took trial and error. Scrap paper anyone?
Remember, we’re free-spirit creatives. We’re just eyeballing for the right size.
Layout & Retrace
Once your numbers are printed, cut away some of the excess paper. Don’t cut it all away, just some of the bulk.
There are two ways to go about tracing. The easiest, is to mirror your numbers before you print them. Flip them face down on your board. Place ’em where you want ’em, rub over the outlines with the bottom of a pen, or toothbrush or other such tool, and you’re good to go. You should find the outline of your numbers when you lift off your papers.
If you forgot that whole mirror-image thing, you’ll have an extra step. Place your printed numbers face down on a hard, lightly colored surface. Don’t use your board for this. You’ll end up with weird indentations and ink lines all over, and it won’t be pretty.
Trace the outlines of the backside of your numbers with a soft pencil. Press firmly while you make those lines. Then, flip your numbers right-side up and gently lay them out on your board. While you arrange them, try not to smear your graphite lines.
Some things to consider:
- Are the bottoms (or sides, if you’re going vertical) lined up?
- Do you want them to be?
- Are your numbers evenly spaced?
Step back and take another look. Your address sign is mainly going to be viewed from a distance anyway.
When you’re happy with your arrangement, retrace over those outlines. Use a capped pen, the handle end of a paintbrush, etc. to rub off the graphite onto the wood. Remember- you’re not engraving your board, but tracing. Press firmly, but not fiercely.
Pull up your papers. You should have the outlines clearly visible on your board. If there are missing or thin areas, lightly connect those lines with your pencil. Yes, freehand.
The Fun part… Until It’s Not fun.
I chose to use screws rather than nails. My joints are affected by autoimmune disease, so I knew they would hate me if I tried hammering in every nail. Plus, we have ⅔ of a bucket of drywall screws leftover from our laundry room project. They’re almost black and would contrast nicely with the lime green paint.
Screws or nails, you’re in it for the long haul. If you can prop your board up vertically to work on, do it. Trust me. Three days later and my neck is still sore from being hunched over drilling in those babies one by one.
Pick an easy number to start- a number with the least curves- like a 1 or 7, rather than 3 or 8. Start at one edge of that number, and think ahead about your spacing. Curves are tricky, but you can do it. Take your time and plan ahead. I found the zero to be a challenge. I worked both sides of the “0” together, instead of completing one side top to bottom. I wanted to keep my rows even. They are, umm… even-ish.
Work in rows. While you could absolutely drill or hammer willy nilly, your piece will look more finished if you work in rows. They don’t have to be perfect. Again, folks will generally view your sign from a distance.
I broke up my drilling sessions over two days. My fingertips were a little rough from all the threads and points. But the end result is worth it!
If you’ve used screws or nails that could rust or corrode, you’ll want to give your board a few coats of spray sealer. I used an acrylic clear coat. Be sure whatever you use is compatible with the rest of your materials.
Hang It All
That’s it! You’ve done it! And since you planned ahead (unlike me), you can proudly hang your custom house numbers display, (unlike me). See? Making a stunning address sign just takes some (*ahem*) forethought, a little work, and some time. I’d love to see yours! Leave a photo and tell me about how it went for you in the comments below!