When we purchased our Vermont home, we immediately cleaned out all of the former homeowner's decor so we could make the house our own. After removing their decorating style, there was a large blank wall above the propane gas stove that was begging for something rustic and unique. I was not sure what I was looking for, but I knew it needed to be a large, statement piece.
After searching for Vermont and ski-related signs, I found a few that I really liked but were super expensive. Since our house is a bit of a fixer upper, these signs were not within our budget. Inspired from the search, I decided to make one of them using supplies we had on hand and stencils that I purchased for under $30.
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DIY Wood Pallet Sign
This is an easy and very forgiving project to make and can be used with any theme – ski, lake beach, pool…whatever you want. In the supplies list below, I listed some links where you can purchase some of the items I used to make this sign. Please note, that as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
- Protective eye-wear
- Wood pallet(s)
- Bleach solution or cleaner
- Chalk paints – any brand is fine. Use what colors work for your decor. I used FolkArt Home Decor Chalk Furniture & Craft Paint in Assorted Colors (16 Ounce), 34845 Sheepskin
- Chalk paint brush Any chalk paint brush is fine. I used FolkArt Home Decor Chalk and Wax Brushes, 34909
- 2.5″ height letter stencils (any font is fine. I could not find a font I like at the local craft stores, so ultimately, I used Tahoma by Stencil Planet)
- Stencil stamping brush
- Small paint brush to fix errors
- Clear or natural wax paste – I used Minwax 785004444 Paste Finishing Wax, 1-Pound, Natural
- Eye screws
- Picture wire
Step 1: Gather Wood Pallets and Remove Boards (Carefully!)
We happened to have wood pallets laying around. If you don’t have any, call a local retailer, nursery, etc. because many are willing to give them away for free if you ask.
For the lettered sign boards, determine what you want the boards to say. For skiing, you can follow what I did or you can use the slopes from a mountain you like to frequent, etc. If you want to make a beach sign, you can use words like beach, boardwalk, rides, etc.
Work in odd numbers ranging from 1-7 depending on the size sign you want to make. In design, odd numbers are more aesthetically pleasing to the eye than even numbers. Because I wanted a fairly large sign, I used seven boards plus two for the back to attach the sign boards. If you want to make a smaller sign, use 1, 3 or 5 boards. (Note: I would not make this sign with more than seven boards because it has some weight to it when it’s completed. Does that mean you can’t make it with nine? You can make it with nine, but it will get heavier the larger you make it.)
Remove the wood pallet boards carefully. I am pretty accident prone, so my husband likes to do this stuff for me. If you are removing them yourself, wear protective eye-wear and gloves, then pry them loose with a hammer. Slowly pry them out and be gentle because the boards can break easily.
It is OK if the sign boards are not all exactly the same size. Various sizes, roughness, nail holes, etc. add character. Work with what you have.
Step 2: Gather Paint Supplies, Stencils and Start Painting
Once you gather the supplies, wash each board down with some sort of bleach solution or cleaner, then hose or rinse them down. Allow the boards to dry for about twenty-four hours to ensure the wood is completely dried out before painting.
It is recommended to lightly sand each board before applying chalk paint. While this step is not necessary, it is recommended. A light sanding helps the paint adhere better to the wood.
Apply one coat of chalk paint to each board, allow to dry, then re-coat. If you like the look after one coat, by all means, leave it at one coat. For my project, I used white, black, blue and red paints. I did not have navy blue paint on hand, so I mixed black with the blue to get the desired result.
When the boards are dry, grab your stencils and stamping brush. Use either white or black for the lettering on each board depending on your background color. Allow to dry. (Tip: wipe the stencil off between use.) If you mess up, do not worry. You can touch it up by using a small brush to cover the mistake or distress the mistake out later. Larger mistakes are also not fatal…worse case, repaint a board. It’s not a big deal.
Step 3: Distressing and Waxing the Wood Pallet Boards
Wait twenty-four hours before distressing. Bring your boards to a well-ventilated area because distressing boards creates a lot of dust.
When the boards are completely dry, use sandpaper or sanding block to distress each sign board. Sand each board and distress to your liking. There’s no right or wrong way to distressing, but I recommend under-sanding it, blow the dust off and check your progress to see if you want it more heavily distressed. It’s much easier to take a slow progress approach than over-sanding and wanting to start over. If you happen to over-sand, don’t stress. Options are – sand the other boards the same or start the painting process over for that one board. This is a very fixable and forgiving DIY project.
Once you get the desired distressed result, blow the dust off and wipe it down with a clean cloth. Apply the wax according to the manufacturer’s directions. I used a natural/clear coat of wax. If you want an antique look, buy the darker wax instead of natural so it looks more aged.
Step 4: Attaching the Wood Pallet Boards
To attach all the sign boards together cut two additional boards of wood pallet to the finished size of the lettered boards together. Screw the sign boards on. See pic below.
When completed and ready to hang, make sure you locate the studs in the walls first. This sign is heavy and needs support. We used two screws and picture wire to hang the sign that we removed from another picture that we took down. I recommend using eye screws to attach the picture wire, but plain screws seem to work fine also.
Another variation of this project is to leave the individual boards unpainted, use larger stencils and black paint for the lettering only. I have not tried this yet, but I want to make one like this for my dining room. I’ll blog it when I do.
What Do You Think?
Thank you so much for following along! I hope this post inspires you to make a wood pallet sign. Please send me pics of your designs or let me know what you think in the comments here – I would love to see it! And be sure to follow me @bricksnblooms on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram where I share lots of the behind-the-scenes of my home, garden and personal life.
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