Welcome signs for your doorstep are such a great way to make people feel invited into your home! It sets the tone for your style to anyone passing by, and in general just gives your house a more neighborly feel. This project allows you to make one in no time at all (and at minimal cost) that perfectly fits your style! The other bonus factor to this sign is that it’s made from one complete piece of wood unlike most welcome signs that are made from two thin boards that will warp in the elements in no time! This means you’ll have a beautiful board for years to come!
Now if you are anything like me you are thinking “Great, but my handwriting is awful!”, because trust me, my handwriting is not something you want plastered at the front of your home. To make this truly, uniquely you, I have found a way to make homemade “stickers” in place of stencils. What’s the point? It gives you the same effect as stencils, but you get to completely customize the font and size of your letters instead of being confined to pre-made stencils or be blessed with amazing handwriting. Then when you paint is dry, you just peel them off and have an absolutely amazing sign! It also allows you to have a sign where your letters are stain and your board is painted, instead of the traditional stained sign with painted letters!
So let’s get started:
- 1″x10″x6′ Pine Board
- Painter’s Tape
- Craft Sponge (Optional)
- Wood Filler (Optional)
- Tack Cloth
- 3M Super 77 Spray Adhesive
- Rust-Oleum Ultra Cover Paint
- Minwax Walnut Stain
- Thompson’s WaterSeal Clear Waterproofer
- Table Saw (Optional)
- Measuring Tape
- 1/2″ Cove Router Bit
- Metal Ruler
- Razor Blade/X-Acto Knife
- Painter’s Pyramid
- Computer Printer/Paper
- Applicable Safety Equipment
Let’s Do This!
The first thing you are going to have to decide is the size, font, stain color, and paint color for your sign. This is going to be completely dependent on your personal taste. For this project we are using walnut stain on a 5′ board with Heirloom white paint. We decided on using Imprint MT Shadow for our font to give it an antiqued farmhouse look. Feel free to adjust your sign based on your personal preferences with these instructions.
The first step to this super simple welcome sign is to cut down your board. This is an optional step but I did it for a couple reasons; my board has a few unpleasant imperfections on the sides, 6′ just felt too big for my doorway since it’s pretty narrow, and I wanted to remove a slight warp in my board without dealing with a planer. I used a table saw and cut down 1″ on each side lengthwise, then cut 6″ on the top and bottom. This gave me a 5′ x 8″ board to work with.
Next I wanted to add a little decoration to the board without taking away from an aged, antique feel. To achieve this I used a 1/2″ cove router bit. I set it so the bearing was 3/4″ above the router table and cut the board all the way around on the edge (side that will have the writing). This gave me a little visual appeal without being too flashy!
I then filled in any wood knots with wood filler where needed. This made sure when I applied the stain there wouldn’t be visible cracks in the board, especially where I would have the letters. I just let it dry for a few minutes then sanded it down to be flush with the board.
Now you want to give the whole board a good sanding to remove any imperfections that don’t help with the aged look like marker or dirt stains. I started with 60 grit sand paper then did a real quick sanding at 120 grit. For the cove edging I used a piece of sand paper wrapped around my finger to get in the grove. Once this is done, wipe down the whole board with a tack cloth to get any sawdust off of it and get ready to stain.
I used Minwax Walnut Stain for the base of my welcome sign because it was a nice dark rich color that would pop against the white paint. I would recommend sticking with a contrasting color from what your paint color is to make the lettering more visible from a distance. Once you stain the whole board according to the manufacturer’s directions, I put my sign on painter’s pyramids to allow it to dry completely.
While that’s drying, it’s time to work on the letters. We used Imprint MT Shadow font for our board but it’s really up to you. You want to keep a few things in mind while picking your font:
- Will it be easy to read from a distance?
- How difficult will it be to cut out the letters?
- Does it match the style you are looking for?
It is very important to remember you will be cutting out these letters with a razor blade of some sort (I prefer an X-Acto knife) so you probably don’t want to do something that is extremely detailed. I like the Imprint MT Shadow font because it had personality but also a lot of straight lines that I could use a ruler as a guide to cut. Depending on what kind of font you use the font size will vary, but I would keep your letters about 4-5″ tall. This will give you room on the top and bottom of your sign for any seasonal decoration you may want to add, while still giving you a little spacing between the letters. We decided instead of the “O” in Welcome, that we wanted to put our Texas state on the sign. We just simple did a search for Texas and picked an image. We then put it in paint and added the word “home” in the center where it would look nice. This step is completely optional, but we liked the homey, personalized feel this would give our sign.
Next just loosely cut out the letters so you are getting rid of all the extra paper. Don’t cut closer than a 1/4″ from the letters or you will be making the next step a little more difficult for yourself. I would just copy the picture above. Lay out all your letters on your board to make sure you like the look and spacing. We ended up doing 5 1/2″ of space on the top and bottom of the sign, then 2 1/2″ in between the letters. Once you are happy with the look, it’s time to start making “stickers” with them.
Next you want to take painter’s tape (wide if you have it) and tape your board from about an inch above the first letter to an inch below the last letter. This is going to give you the adhesive of the sticker. I used a small piece of scrap would to press down the tape from top to bottom to make sure it was well secured. You then want to use a sharpie and mark the sections each letter is going to fall into. This is a little boring and time consuming, but it will make your sign look amazing when it’s all done. Then do one last check by laying out your letters before adhering them to the board.
Now I used Super 77 Spray Adhesive to adhere the letters to the board. I sprayed the back of the letters, then using that same piece of scrap wood, I would place the letter in it’s designated spot then run the wood over it to make sure it was well placed and no air bubbles got into it. I also marked the halfway point on each section line and the letter so I could easily line up the letters in a straight line (that spray adhesive dries amazingly quickly so you don’t have time to adjust once you place the letter on the board). Once that’s done let it dry for a few minutes. This is a good time to walk around the block or have a cup of coffee because the next part is not the most exciting task in the DIY world (but I promise it’s totally worth it)!
Now you want to take your X-Acto knife and a metal ruler and start cutting out the letters. You are cutting out any of the white, leaving the black lettering in place. This will mean when you paint your sign, the letters will be the stain and the sign will be “aged” paint. The only exception to this is if you did a state like I did, where you keep the outline of the state but cut out the lettering. This part is time consuming but it’s worth taking your time. I honestly got a little bored with it so I did this part in my dining room table so I could watch TV while I plugged away at it. Be careful to try to only cut around the letters with the razor because the spray paint will not fill in these lines (as I learned the hard way). The lines were driving me nuts (though my fiance was sure no one would see them once the sign was in place) but I knew they were there so I had to fix it. I’ll explain how to fix it if you make a mistake later in this post.
Once that is done you are almost done. To antique the paint, I used Vaseline and a piece of sponge, placing a little Vaseline on it and patting it around the board where I thought it would naturally wear. I focused on the edges, corners, in the cove edging, and in the blank spaces on the top and bottom of the board. I also did some spots on the back of the board so it would match. I like using a sponge because it will give a randomness to the pattern, but I’ve used crumpled up paper towels, q-tips, paint brushes, and even my fingers for this in other projects so feel free to experiment. Ultimately you are just trying to achieve an aged look with whatever tools you decide to use.
Now you want to take your spray paint and paint the sign, front and back. I used Rust-Oleum Ultra Cover Paint + Primer in Heirloom White. Now, you can brush on your paint but this is why I chose spray paint:
- Easy Application
- Easy Clean Up
- Paint Would Be Less Uniform, Giving A Better “Antiqued” Feel
- Reduced Risk Of Paint Sealing Stickers In Place
I simply sprayed the paint on all sides of the board, then went back and did a little touch up where it was necessary. Once your paint is dry to the touch (mine only took 20 minutes), take a clean paper towel or rag and wipe down your board, making sure to get all the spots where you put the Vaseline.
Now, let’s address my mistake with the razor lines. I didn’t think twice while I was making this because I figured such thin lines would easily be hidden by the paint but I was so so wrong. To fix this just take a little wood filler and rub it into the groove, making sure to wipe off any excess. Lightly repaint those areas. Don’t worry, while I was upset when I saw the lines, I liked the end result of this because it added a more layered, authentic feel to the board.
We are so close to being done! Now you want to remove all the letters from your board. Lightly sand (very lightly) with 120 grit or finer sand paper. This will take any new feel to the paint away and add a little wear to the letters, so it matches the rest of the board. Make sure to do this to the back of the board too.
Seriously, how much do you love this sign so far? You could stop here and start waterproofing it but I did one last 3 minute step that I think really put it over the top. After I wiped down the whole board to get rid of any dust, I mixed about a teaspoon of black paint (I just used some leftover acrylic black paint I had from a previous project) with an ounce of water. When I say I mixed it, I literally swished around the bowl the paint and water was in, so that when I applied it then I would have darker and lighter areas. I then dunked a rag in the mixture and rubbed down the whole board with it. I think this really gave it the right antiqued look I was going for, especially since this is an outdoors piece so the aging would naturally darken the wood.
Now the difference is subtle but it took that new paint feel away from the piece. The last and final step is to waterproof your sign so it lasts for years to come. I used Thompson’s WaterSeal Clear Waterproofer. I’ve used this for my outdoor planters and it’s amazing at how well it protects the wood. My only complaint with this product is that it takes 24 hours to dry and you want to do at least 2 coats to make sure you have completely protected your Welcome Sign.
That’s it! I know it was a lot of reading, but the actual project is simple to complete and extremely inexpensive. This is a great project to do with friends or kids, and you can easily modify this to fit your unique tastes! I hope you enjoyed this project and please if you try this, leave a picture of your final product in the comments to inspire others!
Disclaimer: Please make sure with all your projects that you have read your equipment’s safety manual and are following the recommended safety precautions. We are not responsible for the results of your DIY projects as results can vary based on your skill level, quality of materials, and age of your equipment.