DIY Painted Wood Sign (No Stencils Needed)

DIY Painted Wood Sign (No Stencils Needed)

Get out your paint, because it is time to make with Katie B.! Katie, who is a manager at Forest 2 Home, and her 3-year-old son Carson recently rolled up their sleeves and made a couple of beautiful, painted wood signs for their home. You can carve out one-on-one time with your family and make your own painted wood signs with these simple steps and a few items you probably have laying around your house.

You will need:

  • Wood (Katie and Carson used one 1 x 4 x 24” Poplar board and one 1 x 5 x 24” Ash board)
  • Any rough grit sandpaper
  • Your choice of paint(s) and paint brushes
  • Printer and paper
  • Bright colored chalk
  • Tape
  • Pen or sharpened pencil
  • Cardboard or tablecloth to protect your work area
  • Antique polish

Step 1

Lay down a piece of cardboard or a tablecloth you don’t mind getting paint on, so you don’t have a mess to clean up after (hint for those making signs with children).

Step 2

Take a square of sandpaper (any rough grit will do the trick!) and lightly clean up any wood fuzz/chipped out strands on the edges of the board. I also like to sand off the sharp edges of the wood, I think it makes for a better-looking finished sign!

Step 1

Step 3

Apply the base coat(s) of paint by brushing the paint on all sides of your board. I suggest doing 3 sides, letting it dry, and then completing the last side after the paint has dried.

Step 4

After the first layer of your base paint has dried, take your handy dandy sandpaper and lightly sand over the front face of the board and edges. This technique makes the sign look weathered by taking the shine off some of the paint and getting it back down to the wood. The great part is, if you think you have sanded off too much, just apply a little more paint! As my 3-year-old would say, “Easy peasy!”

Chalk transfer

Step 5

Once you are happy with the look of the base coat, it is time to get your words ready! I decided to use “COFFEE” for my 1 x 5 x 24” Ash sign and Carson went with “HOT COCOA” for his 1 x 4 x 24” Poplar sign. Now, you need Microsoft Word to pick your favorite font and size and print! This is the super simple and cost-effective alternative to buying stencils! Next, using your brightly colored chalk, color in the back of the printed letters, one page at a time. After the back of each letter is colored in, lay the papers on the board and tape in place. Once secured, take a pen or sharpened pencil and carefully trace the letters on the paper! Yes, it’s truly that easy! Pressing hard with your writing utensil will transfer the chalk onto the board, like tracing. Repeat until all word(s) are transferred onto the board.

Hot Cocoa Transfer

Step 6

Remove the tape and the paper. You should see that the chalk has transferred onto the board. Now, you are ready to paint! If you have kids helping, I suggest you go over the chalk with pencil. 

Coffee painted sign

Step 7

Take your letter paint (we used black and white) and a small paint brush to paint in the letters. Depending on your style you can paint them as solid or as rough as you’d like. My style is Farmhouse Chic, so I let the background color peek through from time to time. Another option to create the weathered look is to paint each letter a solid color and then lightly sand it.

Painted Wood Signs

Step 8

Once the letters are complete, you are ready to add on any final touches! I used only antique polish, but you can also spray on sealant as well.

“This project is super easy, which allows you to tweak it to match your style or create a new one,” Katie said. “No more expensive printed signs with no character. All you need is a little elbow grease!”

Happy woodworking!

1 comment

  • Jesse Glessner

    Another quick process is to type your words (“COFFEE”) in a graphics program like GIMP. Once that is done FLIP the words HORIZONTALLY. Print using darker toner on a laser printer. Lay the paper on the board (see note1), dampen the paper, gently rub the area of the words, gently remove the paper and your word will appear on the board. Allow to dry and paint with a clear coat.
    NOTE 1: This may work better if you do a very light clear coat over the area of the board where your text is to show.

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