I've had it out for the house number plaque on my house for a couple of years, now. It was cheesy, plain, and completely fulfilled my daily allotment of "blah". If someone's looking for my house, that's the first thing they'll look for, so that's worth making it unique, right?
So, I found a style of house numbers that I liked at Home Depot for pretty cheap, but I have brick exterior and didn't want to just stick them to the wall. I looked for a plaque or something similar to mount them on, but everything commercially available looked cheap and tacky, and remember, we're going for unique. Then I remembered that chunk of Lexan sitting at home in my garage...
Check out step five for a description & pictures of my second attempt at the project which is, in my opinion, a huge improvement over the original.
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Step 1: Stuff You'll Need
So, in order to pull this off, here's what we'll need...
Drill (or drill press)
Assorted Drill Bits
Orbital Sander w/ 150 & 220 grit sand paper*
Saw (just to cut the lexan to size. I used a jigsaw, but a table saw would work much better.)
*You may be able to sand this by hand, but the orbital sander would give you a much more uniform finish.
A piece of Lexan
#10 Lead Shields x 4
#10 2 1/2" Screws x 4
And off we go...
Step 2: "Frosting" the Lexan
The Lexan wouldn't make the numbers pop out if it were left clear, so I "frosted" it a bit by sanding it. This particular piece of polycarbonate has UV protection on one side, so it bears noting that you should sand the non-protected side and mount the numbers on the protected side. The protective film says that the "non-printed" side is UV resistant, so we start with the other side. Just peel off the film, but make sure to leave the film intact on the other side for now.
I started with several passes using 150 grit, making sure to make overlapping, even passes. When it really started to lose its transparency, I switched over to 220 grit and made several more passes. The 220 grit might not really be necessary, but it certainly made it nice and smooth.
Once I was happy with the finish, I cleaned it off with some glass cleaner and flipped it over to start drilling.
Note: Don't remove the protective film yet!!!
Step 3: Layout and Drilling
Now, this step will vary widely depending on the style of house number that you choose, the means by which that number is attached, and how you plan on attaching this to your house. Also, since I left the protective film on this side, I could mark my drilling points directly on the Lexan. Pretty convenient.
The numbers I bought had threaded sockets on the back to attach metal studs which were intended to be glued into holes in my house. I tried this approach once. Strife, pain, profanity and crookedness ran rampant. I don't suggest it. However, those threaded sockets made them very easy to attach to my Lexan with 3/8" #8 screws. I simply used the included templates to lay out my guides for drilling.
As far as laying out the holes to attach it to the house, I specifically lined everything up in such a way that I would only have to drill into the mortar between the bricks. Since I'm mounting this on brickwork, this is useful for a few reasons:
1) Its much easier to line everything up
2) The mortar is easy to drill through. Have you ever tried drilling into a brick?! I did one time. I died a little that day.
3) If you make a mistake or have to move your house numbers, its pretty easy to fill in the holes in mortar.
Once I had everything marked, I grabbed the appropriate drill bit and went to drilling. This part is easy, but you have to be extremely accurate if you want everything to look straight and neat.
NOTE: When drilling your holes, make sure to drill them just a little bit large. Polycarbonate has a tendency to expand and contract with weather changes, so you want to give it some wiggle room.
Step 4: Hardware and Sticking It to the Wall
Once everything was drilled, I took the protective film off and attached the numbers. I took a lot of care during this step as to not scratch the thing all to hell.
After the numbers we're attached, I turned my attention to actually making it stick to the house. I used lead shields, which are little lead anchors designed attach stuff to brick or mortar. Just like a drywall anchor, you just drill the appropriate sized hole and tap it in with a hammer. Now, I could just slap it on the wall as is, but I wanted to make it sort of "float" out from the wall just a smidge. I found these little aluminum spacers in the "Stuff You'll Never Need" drawer in the fastener aisle at Home Depot. They just go in between the Lexan and the wall. When tightening down the screws, it bears noting that if you torque everything down too tight, the Lexan will warp a bit. If that happens, just back it off a bit until it straightens out.
Step 5: Done!
And its done! I'm extremely pleased with this. I purposely left the space below the numbers so I can add my street name in black vinyl lettering from a sign shop later.
This was my first instructable, so forgive me if its a little simplistic. Please let me know what you think.
Since posting this, I have moved and had the opportunity to create version 2.0 of this project, so to speak. The improvements I made consisted of:
More Interesting Hardware (hex drive bolts and finishing washers)
Longer Spacers (1" to make it stand off of the wall a little further)
Rustoleum Window Frosting Spray (created a more opaque effect while still staying adequately transparent, also allowed for the edges to be masked off to create a clear border)
I've included pictures below. Thanks for looking.