My house needed something, and like many other guys and gals out there, when faced with a need, I looked around and said, how can I fix it. My house had poor address visibility in the daylight, and no visibility at night. How is the pizza guy supposed to give me my dinner if he can't find my house? Guys, help me out here!
So, I looked online and found that the cheapest option was more than I wanted to spend, but I realized that it was something I could fashion myself. Based on simple indirect lighting principles, I made a lighted address box for the front of my house, and also made sure it had high contrast for daylight visibility as well.
For materials, I used only what I had laying around, but I understand that some people won't have these things, so here's a shopping list:
1x section of wooden shelf or other white-washed wood
1x section of plywood roughly the same size as the shelf
1x short length of pressure-treated 2x4, for the 2 box sides
1x LED rope light length (mine was 10 feet)
4-6x 3in deck screws or anchor bolts for wall mount
10-12x 1-1/2" deck screws for box assembly
(optional) remote controlled Christmas light pigtail
(optional) Outlet timer
Step 1: Build the box
For my house, I just happened to have an outlet on the outside of my house that was right near the address area. Your house may not have this, so an extension cord may be necessary for this method. First, you need to cut the woods to the right sizes. The plywood and shelf (or other white-washed wood) need to be roughly exactly the same size. Leave room on the sides for the internal spacers (the pressure-treated 2x4 sections).
But don't put it on the wall yet. I did this instructable after the fact and didn’t want to take it down again for the pictures. Ultimately the size of the box is up to you, and should fit your needs. The reason the spacers are there is to allow the light inside the box to difuse and reflect off the back material and then shine through the address without upsetting your neighbors. You want it to be bright enough to be seen at night, but not so bright that it shines on the clouds and calls for Batman.
Step 2: Design the numbers
Once you have all the woods cut, you'll need the template for your numbers. I used MS Word to make the template. I used Times New Roman font at a 350 font size.
If you have a longer address, it's important for visual clarity that the numbers are all on the same page, so that they line up, unless you're going for an unaligned thing. If necessary, you can adjust eh margins on the page to let all the numbers show up. But this part is really up to you. How big do you need it?
Then print it out.
Step 3: Make the template
Now comes the dangerous part. Carefully use a razor blade to cut out the numbers. DON'T CUT YOURSELF. Good, now that my liability is done, we can continue.
Now, once the numbers are cut out, put the template page onto the plywood and try as hard as you can to make it level to the wood. Measure if you have to. Unless you're going for the crooked thing. Once you have it where you want it, trace with pen or pencil the numbers onto the wood. It should then look like this:
Now that you have your numbers penned down, it's time to start cutting them out. I used a drill to poke holes in the mass of the numbers, just to get rid of some of the bulk. Then I used a dremel tool with a router bit on it. Either way, make it how you want it. If you cut corners now, you'll always know that you cut corners and did a cruddy job on it.
When working with power tools, always use gloves and eye protection! I put a sizable hole in my jeans because when I was cutting it out the board was on my lap and I forgot to make sure it was moved regularly. DON'T CUT YOURSELF!
Step 4: Stain and/or paint
Since it's going to be outside, it's a good idea to stain or paint the wood, to protect it from the elements. Mine is under an overhang, but I still stained it to match the front deck. It's also a good idea to line the numbers with a contrasting paint color. Just a thin line will suffice to make the numbers stand out in the daylight. I had the paint already, but a cheap bottle of craft paint can be purchased for just a few dollars. Again, put some effort into it, you're going to be looking at it every day, and telling people to look for it.
Step 5: Light source
At this point, you need to make sure you have the lighting source lined up. I used a rope LED light from the home depot. I think it was like $20 or so. My rope light was blue, which is cool to me. Wrap it up into a loop, surrounding the cut out numbers, but not blocking them. As we said before, you don’t want the lights peaking through the address holes. Put some screws into the back of the wood (careful not to poke through to the front) to hold the lights in place. The screws should hold the lights tight.
Step 6: Switching method
Here is where you need to figure out which method you want to use to turn it on at night. A cheap timer would work just fine. I happened to have the Christmas light remote pigtail on the rope light anyway, so I just used that.
Step 7: Mounting
Use a masonry bit in the drill to poke a couple holes in the brick outside (or whatever you have for wall covering). Make sure you mount it good and sturdy to the wall. The better job you do here will ensure it stays up until you want it to come down. Concrete anchors are a pretty good idea here.
Step 8: There you have it.
Screw the front plate to the box already mounted to the wall. Then plug all the cords together. You now have an inexpensive light-up address solution that you built yourself. Congratulations.
Step 9: Requested images
A commenter asked for a few other images, so here they are: