DIY Family Sign: How to Paint Sign Letters


This is just a quick DIY post on how you can paint really fancy letters to make a custom family sign for your home. I know I probably say this on every post, but it was really easy! And this is coming from a person who has the handwriting of a third grader.

Honestly, people will look at things I’ve written down and ask if my child wrote them for me! Which is why I was so surprised that this turned out so well.

I found the technique for sign lettering here through Pinterest. I think the instructions in my post will be pretty understandable, but if you want a more step-by-step tutorial, I suggest you visit the post.

So to make my family sign I started out with a plain plaque from the craft store. These are pretty cheap and ubiquitous – I think you can pretty much find them at any craft store, or you could even just start with a plain piece of wood. Or a pallet! (Pinterest has led me to have a strange obsession with pallets. I’d probably never do anything with a pallet because they’re so big and bulky and intimidating, but still…I love, love, love the look of pallet crafts.)

Paint the plaque or piece of wood whatever color you want. I wanted a basic black and white family sign as that’s what most of our interior decor correlates with. But feel free to go wild with the colors! Just remember that the darker of color paint you start with, the more difficult it’s going to be to see the sign lettering that you’ve traced onto the wood.

Next step, go into your computer word processing program of choice and find your favorite font. I’m not exactly sure what font I used for our family sign, but I remember going through practically every font in Microsoft Word in order to find one with the right looking “t” and “k”. Pinterest is also a really good source for finding cool fonts, and a lot of neat fonts can be downloaded for free at

Once you’ve found the right font for your family sign, you’re going to type out what you what the sign to say. Your family sign doesn’t just have to be your last name – it can be “The Smiths,” “The Smith Family” or even something like “Smith: est. 1994.” I almost did the established part on our family sign, but I decided to go with a simpler look.

Make sure when you create the wording that the sign lettering will fit on the piece of wood or plaque you’re going to be painting. Depending on whether you want the family sign to be horizontal or vertical, you may have to switch your page orientation to “landscape” or possibly print it out on two pieces of paper (depending on how large you want the sign lettering to be).

Okay, now here’s the “fun” part of making your family sign. And by fun, I mean the most nerve wracking (for me anyway). You’re going to tape the print out of your sign lettering onto the plaque or piece of wood EXACTLY where you want it to be painted on. Make sure and tape it on good and tight otherwise it could move around while you’re tracing and the letters will look all wonky.

Trace the letters of your family sign using a ballpoint pen or pencil. It’s important that you use a hard writing utensil (and not a marker or crayon), because you want the lines to show up in the paint on the wood. Also, press down firmly as you trace to ensure that the tracing shows up underneath the paper.

When you lift up the paper, you should see the lines of your sign lettering lightly carved into the paint on your family sign. Then, you can paint inside the lines and get the perfect lettering for your family sign. Going back to my tendency to write and paint like a small child, I opted to use a Sharpie instead of paint to make the sign letters.

I finished off the sign edges with black paint and then sanded the sign to make it look a little worn. If you are going to sand your family sign, I would suggest avoiding the letters (especially if you used Sharpie). Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way, and I had to redo all the lettering on our family sign. The good news is it only took my 10 minutes or so to redo all the lettering!

I hope this tutorial was helpful in helping you make your own custom sign lettering. It doesn’t have to be on a family sign, you can pretty much do it on any sort of wooden craft. Have fun, and let me know what you create!


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