11 Ways to Paint Wood Signs

Have you ever wondered how to paint your own wood sign? There are so many different ways to painting lettering and designs onto wood!

When I first started my sign painting business in 2015, Plaid and Pearls Design, I started without a stencil cutting machine. I Googled and experimented with every technique I could find! I was determined to find a technique that would give me the results I wanted Today, I will be sharing the 11 ways to painting wood signs that I have tried– 10 of them without a fancy cutting machine!

Painting Your Own Sign

Hand-painted wood signs are HOT in home decor right now and fit right into the oh-so-popular Joanna Gaines Fixer Upper farmhouse style.

With a 40% off coupon at Michaels, you can score a pretty cute deal of a sign but what if you want a personalized sign or something in a color other than black and white?   You certainly can take a look on your local Facebook group to try to find a local maker to design one for you but maybe you’re up to the challenge to making one yourself!

There are many different techniques to making wood signs.  I’ll be sharing a few of the techniques that I’ve tried over in my sign-making business. I’ll be adding detailed instructions for each technique in future posts so be sure to click on one of the social media buttons at the top to follow so you don’t miss anything.

11 Techniques to Try

  1. Premade stencils – you can buy premade stencils anywhere craft supplies are sold and even at the Dollar Store!
  2. Make your own stencils without a Cricut or Silhouette cutting machine – Yes you can! Did you know plastic binder dividers are perfect for making your own stencils? Just use a craft knife or handheld stencil cutter to cut your design.
  3. Stickers or decals as a positive stencil – If your stickers or decal have a background (the part you would normally throw away), use this as a stencil!
  4. Stickers or decals as a negative stencil –  Lay the stickers or decal out and paint over them. Remove the stickers or decal and you are left with design!
  5. Carbon paper transfer –  Draw your design or select and print a royalty-free image from the internet.  Lay carbon paper onto your wood, then your printed image. Now start tracing!
  6. Newspaper transfer – Same as the carbon paper transfer method above but use newspaper instead!
  7. Etching – Draw your design or select and print a royalty-free image from the internet. Lay image on wood, securing with tape. Using a ballpoint pen, trace your image while gently pressing into the wood to create an indentation.
  8. Chalk or pencil transfer –  Draw your design or select and print a royalty-free image from the internet. Rub chalk or pencil along the back of the image. Lay the image on the wood and trace. The image will be transferred to the wood!
  9. Chalk pounding –  Select and print a royalty-free image from the internet. With a pin, poke holes along the lines of your image. Take an old pantyhose and fill with crushed chalk.   Place your image on the wood and pound the front of the image. The chalk will transfer through the holes.
  10. Freehand – If you are blessed with a steady hand or are feeling especially brave,  draw directly onto the wood.
  11. And last but not least, make your own stencils with a Cricut or Silhouette cutting machine – These machines come with software that allow you purchase stencil files and even create your own designs.   There’s a learning curve involved but the results are professional quality.

Which Technique is the Best?

As a sign-painter, I have often been asked which technique I use.   The answer is that I don’t have just one favorite. I love to experiment and have found that If I am looking to make a quick sign with clean, crisp lines, I will use my Silhouette Cameo machine. If I want a more authentic vintage sign look, I will use the carbon paper or chalk pounding method.

Have you tried any of these techniques? What are your favorites? I would love to hear from you!

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I have perfected the upside down painting technique!
Michele
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