This post was originally published in September 2017 and was updated in September 2018.
Okay guys, I’m taking a small reprieve from our barn door project to bring you an easy and fun DIY project! We have a lot of small-ish 2×4 ends leftover from the barn doors, so I wanted to find a way to use ’em up. My first project is a set of fall-inspired stacked signs! They were really easy, inexpensive, and a fun way to bring more fall decor into my home!
DISCLAIMER: Unfortunately, I don’t actually have hayrides or a pumpkin patch in my house. “Apple Cider” is pointing to my pantry, so I suppose that’s appropriate. LOL
Anyway, let’s hop to it!
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Materials for Stacked Signs with 2x4s
- 3 – 2×4 boards in varying lengths (I chose 16″, 18″, and 20″)
- Amazon sells bundles of barn wood that would be GREAT for this project! You could skip straight to whitewashing, or just use the natural wood as a background. Find them here.
- 80 grit and 220 grit sandpaper
- Water-based wood stain in American Walnut (similar product here)
- Apple Barrel Craft Paints ($0.50 each at WalMart):
- Country White
- English Navy
- Marsh Green
- Harvest Orange
- Cricut Vinyl for stencil (if you choose to make the stencil with a Cricut)
- Foam brush
- Craft brush
- Paper Towels
Step 1: Cutting & Sanding the 2x4s
The first step is to prep your boards. If they’re not the right length, use a saw to cut them into increasing lengths. I chose 16″, 18″, and 20″ because I wanted them plenty big. You could go as small as 6″, 8″, and 10″. I’d like to add that I used the circular saw ALL BY MYSELF to cut the boards and I was INCREDIBLY proud of myself!
Once the boards are the right sizes, sand off all the corners using 80 grit sandpaper. This helps gives the boards a worn look and less like plain ol’ 2x4s. Make sure to wipe off the boards after sanding. Or, you can skip the sanding and staining completely if you use this barn wood!
Step 2: Staining the 2x4s
Don’t be intimidated by staining! It is SO easy. I used a Minwax water-based stain in American Walnut. You can find it at Home Depot where they mix it for you at the paint counter, or a similar product here on Amazon.
All you do is use a foam brush and paint on the stain in the direction of the wood grain. Make sure to get all the sides, too! Let it sit for 2-3 minutes, then wipe off the excess stain with an old rag. Wah-lah! Done! Also, it dries really fast so you can keep moving along with the project right away.
Step 3: Sand AGAIN
Sanding a second time gives the boards even more of a worn look. I used 220 grit sandpaper and a palm sander on the front, sides, and edges. Some of the stain will come off, but that’s “the look!” 🙂
Step 4: Whitewash the 2x4s
If you’d prefer natural wood over whitewashed wood, then you can skip to Step 5. Otherwise, read on!
Making the whitewash is a bit of guess-and-check. It’s just white craft paint mixed with water. I started with 2 parts water to 1 part paint, then tested my mixture on an end of one of the boards and let it dry for a couple minutes. The first test was almost invisible! Needless to say, I had to go back and add more paint to get the right color.
Once the consistency was right, I used a paintbrush to apply the whitewash. A little goes a LONG way, so be conservative!
Mine was going on a little heavy, so I let it dry for a minute, then went over it with a paper towel in the direction of the wood grain. This helped it look more like whitewashed wood than just wood painted white – I wanted the stain underneath to show through!
Step 5: Make a stencil for the lettering
There are tons of different ways to make stencils (hello, Pinterest!), so use a method that works best for you. My favorite way is to use my Cricut Explore Air 2. I make the stencil in the Cricut Design Center and cut it onto vinyl, so I can stick it onto the surface and paint!
Once the stencil was on the surface, I used watered down craft paint for the letters. The ratio was about 2 tablespoons craft paint and 1 teaspoon water. I picked up the 50 cent Apple Barrel craft paint from Wal-Mart in these colors:
- English Navy
- Marsh Green
- Harvest Orange
I let it dry for just a couple minutes, peeled off the stencil, anndddddd VOILA!!!!
This project only cost me about $7 because I had to buy the craft paints and more vinyl for my Cricut. If you have extra wood lying around your house, give these easy DIY project a try! Once the wood is treated, it’s really a blank slate for you to design. It would be fun to draw a huge pumpkin or jack-o-lantern across all three of the boards. Hmmm, maybe that’s my next project! 🙂