How to Paint Letters for Painted Wooden Signs

What You'll Need
Wood letters
Wood glue or glue gun and glue sticks
Paintbrushes- sizes will vary according to size and detail of letters
Acrylic paint or spray paint
Newspaper or drop cloth
Sand paper
Damp cloth
Clear wood varnish

Once you are done painting wood signs, it is time to add letters. The painted words or phrases will help communicate interesting messages and tell a personal story. Choose a letter design and colors that reflect your style. Some of the most popular are antique, classic, modern, rustic and traditional.

Step 1 – Choose Letters and Prepare Area

Buy pre-cut letters at a dollar or craft store. They come in a variety of styles and sizes according to height and thickness. Since you have already decided what the sign will say and the size of its surface, you know which letters and size you require.

Lay down newspaper or a drop cloth on the floor or a working table. Spread the letters out on the floor or table surface. If you will be applying spray paint, it is best to do so in an open garage or outdoors. Sand letters with a light-grade sandpaper to smooth the surface and then wipe clean with damp cloth. Be sure to remove all dust particles so that the paint will properly bond with the wood.

Step 2 – Paint Letters

You can apply color to your letters with either spray paint or acrylic paint. Spray paint is quicker to apply, but potentially messy if you are trying it for the first time. Pay close attention to the instructions on the can, especially the drying time. Generally, it takes 10 minutes to dry. Be sure to pay particular attention to the amount of distance from which you spray. You can paint all the letters with one color or get creative with multiple colors.

Acrylic paint is inexpensive and easy to clean with water. You can paint each letter with a solid color, or add a pattern using a paint brush. Sketch out the pattern on tracing paper first, overlay on letters, and trace onto wood. Check the paint instructions for drying times, You can usually let it dry for 5 to 7 minutes, but can vary from brand to brand.

Step 3 – Glue Letters to Sign

Apply glue with wood glue in a tube or a glue gun on the back of each letter. Make sure to apply the glue down the middle of the letter, so that it will not expand outside the edges when you press it onto the sign. After the letters are securely glued on the sign, apply a clear wood varnish with your choice of finish.

Step 4 - Apply Finish

The most common finishes are matte, satin or gloss. This will protect the durability and enhance the attractiveness of your sign. Read the instructions on the can to find out about drying time and how many coats are needed. If you are planning on displaying your sign outside, make sure to choose a sealing varnish that will withstand the exterior elements. Do not handle the sign until it is completely dry.