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How to paint a primitive sign

Posted by Tori on 9/19/2013
Hi guys! We have decided we need to take some time to tell you "how to paint a primitive sign."  The following information is how we create our signs here at Stencil Me In. We don’t believe there is any right or wrong way to create that primitive aged worn look. If you have ideas please let us know. We are always happy to read about new thoughts and steps to creating this popular aged look for primitive stenciled signs. You will see throughout this blog post, we mention “how we do things at Stencil Me In”. We want to be sure you understand this is what works for us. Again, in our opinion there is NO right or wrong way of achieving this time worn look.

Preparing our sign boards at Stencil Me In: The first thing we do is determine our board sizes, measure and cut them down to our sign/stencil size. We use a radial arm saw to cut our boards. After the boards have been cut we use wood putty to fill in any undesirable dents, scratches or holes in the wood. We don’t always do this. It just depends on how it looks, sometimes we want to see the knots and natural holes that are part of the natural look of wood. We then sand both front and back and all sides and edges smooth. This of course, creates a ton of dust everywhere. We then use a shop vac with a brush attachment to help get rid of most of the dust, followed up with final dusting with slightly damp a rag. One other thing we rarely have to deal with, but I want to mention, is boards that are bowed. Every now and again we find a pretty board with a bit of a bow in it. That means it doesn't lay flat. When this happens we wet the board down with a water hose. We then place a thick straight board over the top of it (this is one we keep for straightening boards, not a sign board) and apply heavy weight. We use a Rubbermaid type container and put weights in it. We leave it to dry for a day or two and that usually does the trick. If not, rinse and repeat :) 

How we paint our sign boards at Stencil Me In: Now that our sign boards are prepared for painting we choose our base color. The paints we use, as we have mentioned in previous posts, are “Delta Ceramcoat” and “Decoart Americana”. Those are the only two acrylic paints we use. These two paints have a great consistency and a large choice of colors that make for some great color palettes. We then use disposable sponge brushes that can be bought at most hardware and craft stores to apply the base paint. We paint the front and side edges of the board. We do not choose to paint the back of our signs. The reason we don’t do this is because sometimes “stuff happens” and we don’t want the board to fall or slip when being hung or for whatever reason and scratch up a wall leaving the paint color scratched across the wall. We choose not to paint the back for a reason, “stuff happens” is exactly what happened to us lol. We were hanging a sign and it slipped down leaving a big red line down our white wall. Once the base paint dries, let the fun begin!! We apply our stencil that we of course, get from Stencil Me In (haha)!! After we stencil our sign board, we carefully remove the stencil. Now it’s time to finish and seal…

How we finish and seal our signs at Stencil Me In: Once we know our paint is well dried we then get ready for applying the primitive look and sealing our sign. This look is also referred to as Rustic, Antique, Time Worn and Aged. Our next step is to sand the edges of the sign. This again, is a step that just depends on the look we desire. Sometimes it’s just a bit of what we call a “narrow sanding” or a “wide sanding”. Narrow meaning, we just sand the very edge of the painted sign board. Wide meaning, we sand the edges as well as sanding a band or framed look around the face of the sign too. Another option, is to sand the face of the sign as well, which means we give a light sanding to the stenciled design giving our sign a very time worn look. Lastly we sand the back side of our sign making sure any and all paint is removed from the back of the sign. Once we have sanded our signs we then head back to the shop vac. We vacuum the sign again and once again, this time with a dry lint/dust free cloth we wipe our sign free of dust. Now for the best part. Time to give our sign its primitive style. Again, we take out a clean lint free cloth and dip it into our favorite stain and seal. We use “Minwax Stain and Seal”. Depending on the look we are trying to achieve we have a choice of 4 colors we use. For the non-antique clean look we use the color “Natural”. For a slightly-aged look we use “Provincial” for our primitive signs we use “Jacobean” and for a very grungy or extreme primitive sign we use “Ebony”. All the stain colors we use are the Minwax Stain and Seal brand. The best part about using this is we get both stain and seal at the same time. We prefer not to use spray seals because we have found the over spray to be very messy…it gets on everything which forces us outside the garage. We like to keep everything in our garage (door open, of course) where everything is set up for the signs to sit and dry. Once the stain and seal is 200% dry we finish it off with a saw tooth hanger. On a 24″ sign or smaller we use one hanger in the middle. Over 24″ we add two hangers one on each end. …

And that is how we paint our primitive signs at Stencil Me In. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us. We are always happy to help.