This DIY project took a little extra time to get it the way I like it, but with that said it’s also a very easy project to do. I don’t think I’ve ever had a project go as smoothly as this one did. Every single letter came out crisp and perfect, but there’s definitely a way to paint them and a way NOT to paint them, so make sure you read that part below. Each letter is 4.5 x 4.5 which makes it the perfect size for an empty wall. I love mine! Once you buy the stencils it’s a project you can easily do again and again. And, it’s also a great group project if you’re planning a ladies get together!
Note: I got my blocks at the craft store, but Amazon has thinner ones that I’ll definitely be trying in the future because the price is so great! I’ll link to those below. My blocks were 4.5 x 4.5 but 4 x 4 is even better.
- If your blocks need sanding, lightly sand them before you start.
- I couldn’t find the shades of stain that I wanted, and so I picked up two. For the face of the block, I wanted a caramel color and for the sides I wanted a shade darker. I mixed the two stains together to get the caramel color I liked. You can see the colors I chose here (click the “interior” tab on that page). I used Sansin Interior Biscuit 3451 and Pretzel 3452. Once you have the color you like, cover each block with one coat of the caramel colored stain.
- Once the fronts are done, mix the colors again to get a shade darker. Your color should look a bit like milk chocolate. I tested my two colors on a scrap piece of wood. You could also test on a paint stick.
- Cover the sides with the milk chocolate color. Use the same darker shade to darken the edges of the block. Use a rag to blend it in. The goal is to make them look a bit aged.
5. Paint the very edge of each piece with the milk chocolate shade. It should be painted already, but this is one extra step to finish the edges. Your finished block should look something like this:
- It’s recommended that you let the stain dry at least 24 hours before going to the next step… but if you’re anything like me you will resume when the stain is dry to the touch which is about 15-30 minutes.
- Center your stencil on your block, and masking tape them in place. Don’t skip the tape as you don’t want it to shift even slightly. Don’t tape them on backwards.
- Before we get to stencilling, I just want to say that using a felt pen like a Sharpie is a bad idea. I tried it on a scrap piece of wood first and it bled. You can actually see it a bit in the photo under step ten. If you go that route, you likely won’t get the crisp look we are going for. Also, a regular paint brush isn’t the best answer either. If that is all you have, make sure that you are light on the paint and dab instead of sliding your brush. With the stencilling method, every single block turned out perfect. I didn’t have even the slightest bleed through. I have created a short video for anyone who isn’t familiar with stencilling. It’s very easy and fun. Click here to watch if you can’t see it below:
- Stencil all of your blocks. Note: Just to keep track, it might be wise to make a list of the letters you’ll need before you get started. Cross them off of your list as you are going along.
- Remove the stencils and wash them in a sink of warm water for future use. Mine are plastic and cleaned up well.
- You’ll notice that a few of the stencils have a little gap in the letters or numbers. When I was completely finished, I went over those areas and carefully filled in the missing gaps.
- Once you are finished, decide how you would like to display them. Do you want them spaced out on the wall? Do you want them glued side by side? I wanted mine glued together into one solid piece. I used a generous amount of Elmer’s white glue to stick my tiles together, and it worked well. My blocks are open at the back so hanging was easy. If you buy the flat tiles, you could use two-sided mounting tape to hang them.