Painting an "antique" Sign




I will show you one method to painting "old" signs for your mancave or special event or use them as artwork in your home or business.

Step 1: Tools and Supplies

1) a sign blank, metal or wood in whatever size you would like, this one is 16" X 24"
2) design idea,  text or artwork, I laid mine out in Coreldraw but you can use whatever your comfortable with or just draw on the surface
3) paint, I used Sherwin Williams latex acrylics
4) brushes, I used cheap brushes I got in a 25 pack at a big store retailer
5) sandpaper, transfer paper
6) not necessary but I used some crackle medium to help age the paint

Step 2: Coating Out

I used some old masonite I had laying in the shop, but you can use old boards or sheet metal. I have used 1 X 12 pine boards and sheets of aluminum you can also apply these techniques to furniture and walls.

Coat the board in two contrasting colors, I used black then white. Apply the paint loosely you do not not need or want even or complete coverage, allow some wood to show through. When this is dry to the touch (I used a heat gun) apply your contrasting color I used white because the school colors are blue and white. let this dry to the touch and then take some high tack tape such as duct tape and apply randomly and pull off some of the paint.

I used some McLoskey special effects crackle glaze between these coats. there are similar products available at paint stores and craft stores.

Step 3: Artwork

I drew my pattern in Coreldraw and sent it to my plotter and drew out the pattern full size, but you can lay it out and scale to size using whatever program you have, or draw it freehand if you are comfortable with that.

I then used saral transfer paper to copy my design to the board, I had some red so I used that, graphite paper works as well or flip the pattern over and rub it with a pencil and use that. if you are going to do more than  one you might make a pounce pattern.

Step 4: Painting

I used some blue and the cheap brushes to letter the sign, I had also used some crackle glaze between layers here also, but you can use the tape method and I also used a razor blade and scraped some paint off after it had dried but was still soft. I also free hand lettered the words "class of" in red.

the final step is using sandpaper and scrapers to carefully scrape away some of the paint revealing the layers underneath,
another technique is to throw it face down in the driveway and rub it around in the gravel a bit (not too much). You can also drive some nails in to it and beat it with a chain. I also sometimes take some muddy brown color thin it out and rub it in to the sign.

Step 5: Finishing Up

Using the same steps I cut out an arrow and stapled it to the sign. I will make a post from some 1/2 inch square tubing and attach it to the sign so it can be pushed in to the ground directing people to the location.

This is just one of the ways I go about creating old signs. If you need anything clarified let me know in the comments.

Step 6: Examples

heres two examples, the drivers sign is aluminum painted to look like rusty steel



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    7 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I really like your signs. Can I find the transfer medium at an art store? Thanks for showing your work!

    2 replies

    7 years ago on Introduction

    if you use a candle to scribble around where your going to paint, the paint wont stick and adds to the crackle effect. Ive used the trick in the past with all kinds of finishes when "aging" furniture, a watery wash of burnt umber craft paint adds a dirty look as well... great looking signs !

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I've heard of the wax treatment but never used it, and I have used asphaltum, and burnt umber in the past to get some rally aged and dirty signs.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    As a member of the SHS Class of '68, I take exception to the reference to "antique" in the title!

    1 reply