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Guide to Custom Wood Sign Decorating

Guide to Custom Wood Sign Decorating

Wall art collection

Custom wall decor can bring warmth to your home year round and also make wonderful gifts. Picking the right wall decor can be a little tricky given that there are so many styles to choose from and not all might fit your budget. I love signs in the fact that it can be an easy way to express yourself and an inexpensive guide to interior design.

The great thing about handmade wood signs is that you not only display your interest to others or make a statement, but do so in a clean and authentic way. There are no rules, and it's easy to work with given the simplicity of it. A rustic wood sign is easy to customize to fit your taste and emphasize a personalized design element to leave a lasting impression with friends/family.


There are many custom designs and inspiration to draw from and can help add just the right charm or color to any room. Also, you can use this to create a nice focal point. This website focuses mainly on primitive and traditional signs, but there are many styles to choose from. Primitive would be closer to antique and concentrates on darker, warmer shades. With signs, this style would concentrate less on designs and patterns, and more on the natural beauty of the wood.

This style is wonderful if you like distressed decor or would like to compliment antique furniture. Traditional would be a blend of modern and antique/vintage, and usually concentrates on neutral colors. With wood signs, it is usually lightly distressed to add just the right amount of rustic (but not too much). Traditional style decor is excellent for making a room look more spacious also.

Example of traditional style Coffee House Sign
But why wood?


I work with all types of wood, in particular pine and birch. Pine is my preferred choice because of it's quality and beauty. On certain projects (especially outdoor signs), I choose birch plywood.

Wood is a popular material for signs, for the following reasons:

  • Ideal for rustic decor. It's easier to distress and barn/reclaimed wood looks rustic naturally.
  • Durable and can be poly coated for extended protection. Wonderful for indoor signs and performs great even for outdoor signs. However, depending on the application of the sign, metal might be preferred over wood.
  • Easy to work with, and custom sizes can be created easily and inexpensively.
  • Depending on the quality (and age) of the wood, it is relatively light weight.
  • Doesn't look cheap or flimsy, it creates the perfect medium for a sign. (especially 3/4 inch pine or birch)
  • Letters/design can be painted or vinyl, although painted is preferred for an authentic look. For those looking for a rustic cabin look and feel, the wood looks excellent with a natural stain.

Still, depending on your needs, a custom wood sign may not be for you.


History of Sign Making

Old Painted Signs on Buildings
Sign making shares a long history. We see it everyday with road signs and advertising billboards, but it really goes back to the Stone Ages. Some civilizations like the Egyptians and Romans were the earliest to use signs as road markers. Much later, when cities grew larger, sign making developed into a profession usually trained through apprenticeship.

The art grew more sophisticated as businesses needed to attract more customers. Their are many examples of "Ghost Signs" still around today and can be found all over the world. Often seen painted on buildings and sometimes signboards. They are usually old hand painted advertisements, faded but kept for it's history or nostalgic appeal.
We also make historical sign replicas, reproducing from any photo available and distressing to make it look time period.


Having trouble deciding?


You might have a spot picked out and know what size you would like, but it's not also easy to decide on what custom sign you would like. If you are having trouble deciding, it might help to draw inspiration from other signs and combine that with your own interest. Here are some popular themes:


Nautical
The most common here would be a custom coordinate sign. The coordinates can be any place of interest. Examples would be, where you first met your spouse, married and started a family. Maybe a favorite or future vacation spot? Many coordinate signs are accompanied with a city/state and a nautical design (like an anchor or compass). Other custom signs could be Boat House, Boat Dock or Harbor. Popular color combinations would be white, black, Navy blue and red.


Country
There are many examples of country rustic signs like Farm, Farmhouse, Ranch and Cabin. Great for it's simplicity and ability to create a warm friendly environment. Neutral and earthy colors work best in this category. Natural/dark stained wood works great for the country primitive look. Rustic country wood signs can create subtle echoes of nature and outdoors adventure.


Train
Another theme would be Train decor, for example a personalized Train depot, Station, Rail Station, Station Master, etc. Very popular for any train enthusiast, train rooms or themed parties. This would be for those with a sense of adventure and looking to incorporate the rustic charm of the old west into their home.

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