Introduction: Simple House Number Sign

About: I'm Panamanian-Chinese self-employed artist who creates art inspired by molas, a textile art form from the Guna Indians from Panama and Colombia. My main tool is Adobe Illustrator. But I also like to make rand…

When we moved to our house at the end of summer last year, we noticed that it didn't have a visible house number. There was a sign on the power pole by the end of our driveway. It was made from a metal sign with aluminum stickers with the address on it, but it fell due to a huge thunderstorm with high winds. It stayed on the ground for months and delivery people had a hard time finding our house. We live in a semi-rural area so the mailboxes are all on the right side of the street and it makes it hard to tell which mailbox belongs to which house, unless you are familiar with the area. I decided that it was time to have a house number sign.

I searched on Etsy and saw very cool signs but we couldn't see ourselves paying the asking price (we are living the frugal life). So we decided to make one with stuff we already have (we also like to make stuff). A while ago, my husband attempted to make a small sofa table for his laptop using small strips of pallet wood glued together to make it more interesting, but it didn't work. This project will use the table top piece as the backboard for the numbers, so it was a recycled project. It's my first instructables, so I hope I make sense :)


  • A recycled board
  • Pallet wood scraps
  • Acrylic numbers (I got them from Ponoko)
  • Black acrylic paint (to stain the wood)
  • Water to mix with the paint
  • A rag
  • Small paint brush for painting in small cracks
  • E6000 glue
  • Wood glue
  • Measuring tape or a ruler
  • 400 grit sand paper
  • Clamps
  • Spray sealer
  • Small eye bolts
  • Some wire recycled from an old network cable
  • Cable stripper
  • Needle plier
  • Drill and screwdriver
  • Masonry drill bit
  • Masonry screws

Step 1: Plan the Layout

Our house has a very unique modern style that makes it stand out, so we wanted the house sign to complement the design. Instead of buying generic numbers at the home improvement stores, we ordered a few sets of acrylic numbers from Ponoko because we wanted to use a simple and modern font that we liked. We also like the dimension the numbers give, versus using vinyl or stencils. We wanted the orientation to be vertical, with all the numbers lined up underneath each other. But unfortunately, the backboard was too short and the numbers didn't fit as planned. To keep the sign vertical, the only solution was to stagger the numbers. I measured the board and made some markings just to see how I could space the numbers out. Then took a picture with my phone so I wouldn't forget (I'm getting old).

At this point, my husband decided to install the eye bolts on the top cross piece, which will be used on the back of the board for stability. These were made from pallet wood scraps.

Step 2: Sand and Stain the Wood

We wanted a dark color to match the front door and the shutters but didn't want to waste money buying a thing of dark stain and not use it again. I searched for an alternative and found that you can stain wood with just regular craft acrylic paint. Woohoo!

After I sanded down the board and wiped the dust particles, I put some black acrylic paint in a container and added a very small amount of water while stirring. When I felt that I achieve a good consistency, I used a ripped t-shirt (no fuzz) as my rag and tested the stain on a piece of scrap of the same wood to see how it looked. The test piece looked decent so I decided to go for it. I put on the first coat and really liked the result but it was too light (I forgot to take a picture of that). I continued adding a little bit more of acrylic paint, stirring and then applying again, until I got the intensity I wanted. I also stained the cross pieces for the back. Then, I let everything air dry for a couple of hours, while I made dinner.

In the pictures, you can see what the different coats look like as I was applying the stain. I really liked the look of the first coat and it's too bad that the wood grain and the different colors of wood got hidden. I will probably make another sign for my office using this light stain.

Step 3: Assemble the Cross Pieces

Once the stain pieces were already dried, I used some wood glue to adhere the cross pieces on the back of the board. We don't have a brad nailer (on the wishlist) but the sign is so light, we don't think it's going to fall apart (I hope not). If it does, we'll figure something out. We clamped it with our over-sized clamps and let the glue dry overnight.

Step 4: Add Finish

I have a few acrylic spray sealers and tried two of them. I turned the sign upside down to test on the back, in case I messed up the spraying and to get the hang of applying even coats. I attached the sprayer attachment to the can and sprayed until I was comfortable with what I was doing. I let that dry for 15-20 minutes and turned the sign back up.

I used the clear finish on the first 3 or 4 coats (front and back) and finished by adding a couple more coats of the UV varnish to seal the wood. Then used a small brush to dab into some divots that weren't coated with the sealer. At first, I didn't like the semi-gloss look, as I wanted a matte finish, but the varnish really brought the intensity of the stain out. It made it look a lot darker and we really liked the result.

I set that to dry for at least a couple of days to allow the varnish to cure properly.

Step 5: Prepare the Acrylic Numbers

The acrylic numbers were too glossy so I sanded the back until there was no more glossy finish. I wanted them to have some "tooth" to allow gluing them on the wood pieces and not fall off. After that, I cleaned the dust off with a damp cloth.

Before gluing the numbers, I did a last dry run and used painter's tape as a guide to help me position them. I used a really small and skinny amount of E6000 glue and stuck them on the board. After about 5 minutes, I put something heavy on each of the numbers. I could've used books, but it didn't occur to me and the boxes of screws were nearby so that's what I used. I let the glue dry for 24 hours before handling the sign.

Step 6: Add Wire and Hang Your Sign!

My husband has a bunch of old network cables that have a very thick copper wire. He cut about 18" and used a cable stripper to get rid of the rubber part. Then, he twisted the wire into the eye bolts using needle pliers.

When the sign was finished, we went outside and marked where to drill to install the screw that our sign will be hanging on. Because we have brick wall, we had to get a drill bit and screws for masonry. It didn't take long to drill and drive the screw in about an inch into the wall. My husband twisted a small loop a bit larger than the screw head and hung the sign.

That same night, there was a thunderstorm with high winds, which knocked down the sign. To solve that, we added a small piece of industrial double-sided tape on the back of the sign. Since then, there have been more stormy and windy nights, and the sign has stayed in place.

And that's it! We really like how it turned out. I know it's a simple project, but it's something we made and we are proud of it! Hope you enjoyed this instructable :)

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