How to paint perfect lettering with one easy trick

wood sign with letters DIY

Create beautiful, painted letters on wood—perfect craft for kids and beginners.


Paint lettering isn’t hard, and you shouldn’t look at the perfect videos on youtube, thinking you’ll never be able to make a beautiful sign like that.

While my mom can draw and paint freehand, I can’t. Better said, not that pretty like many YouTubers out there.

So I came up with a solution. Using only 3 tools and stencils, you can create unique signs on wood without hours and hours of practice.

This step by step paint lettering tutorial is kid-friendly, budget-friendly, and perfect for beginners. 

best way to paint letters on wood

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Tools I used for my letter painting wood sign.

  • Lettering stencils for painting.
  • Mandala stencils to make the design a little funkier. I used them for the letter O.
  • Pencil to outline your stencils.
  • Eraser. If you need to adjust, center the letters.
  • Sharpie. Use different shapes and sizes to paint your letters.
  • Wood. I used 4 repurposed ceiling fan blades. If you ever change your ceiling fans, don’t throw them away. They are perfect for Christmas wall decor too. 


You might need ropes and other decorative accessories to make your sign even more unique. I used a twine string to connect my 4 wood pieces.


How to paint lettering step by step


Are you a visual learner or just want to see how I did it? Check out the quick video and come back for the instructions.

All right! Let’s get into the tutorial. First thing, first choose your wood for the sign.

I used upcycled ceiling fan blades for my project, and it has white paint on it already, which is perfect because I wanted to have a whitewashed wood sign.


Step 1. Prepare the wood for painting

best way to paint letters on wood

Before you paint letters on a wood sign, you want to sand, clean, and probably paint it first.

Here is how I prepared my wood for lettering:

  1. Sand the wood lightly with fine-grade sandpaper. To achieve the whitewashed effect, I sanded off the paint at the edges and in some spots to give a vintage “oldish” look to the fan blades.
  2. Clean all dust and dirt with a damp cloth.
  3. Let it dry.

If you use reclaimed wood, you want to go through the same steps to smooth the surface for paint lettering.


Step 2. Place stencils on the wood sign.

how to paint letters on wood

I wrote/designed my wood sign on paper. I knew I would use 4 pieces of wood and connect them later. So on the left side of the picture, you can see how I imagined my lettering and how I positioned the stencils on the wood.

  1. Make a mini-trial with the stencils before you start drawing and painting.
  2. Mix letter and mandala stencils to create a unique wood sign. Mandalas work great for the letter O.
  3. Once all stencils are in place, you can tape them if you want.

I had no number stencils, so I decided to hand paint the number 2s.


Step 3. Draw your design with a pencil

how to paint letters on wood sign

The best way to write on wood as a beginner is by using a pencil to outline your design.

I tried hand painting letters on signs, but that is not easy without a LOT OF PRACTICE. So if you want to create a pretty painted letter sign today, use a pencil first to draw your design before painting.

  1. Hold down the stencils and follow the letters with a pencil.
  2. Don’t push the pencil so hard you are doing this step to give you a guideline to achieve crisp letters.
  3. Once all letters are drawn, take a look at your project. If you think some letters are too far or too close to each other, this is the time to fix it. It is not permanent yet.
  4. Use an eraser and draw the letter again.


Step 4. Painting letters with a sharpie

making signs with sharpie

You read that, right! I used a permanent black sharpie for this wood sign project. It is soooo easy, and all the letters turned out crisp and beautiful.

  1. Take off the stencils.
  2. Outline your letters with the sharpie following the pencil lines.
  3. Fill each letter with the sharpie.
  4. Give few seconds to the sharpie to dry before you jump onto the next letter. This step is important! You don’t want to smudge your work.


Step 5. Seal your wood sign

finish painted lettering sign

It is always a good idea to seal and protect your wood signs, especially if you will use your new creation outdoors.

I caution you that sharpie is alcohol-based and will bleed when meets with polyurethane seal spray!

You got a couple of options.

  1. You use seal spray anyway.
  2. Once all letters are dry, take the sign outside. You’ll need proper ventilation to spray the sealer.
  3. Make sure it is not windy.
  4. Spray a thin layer of mist at a time. A touch of mist will dry in a second on the letters, and if you need to apply an additional layer, the sharpie won’t bleed anymore.
  5. Let it dry and work section by section. Check out the video on how I did it.


If you think you’ll ruin your project, there is another option. The Mod Podge. Rock painting crafters like this method because Mod Podge won’t bleed sharpie. 


Step 6. Decorate your perfect wood sign

how to put letters on wooden sign

I used 4 fan blades and connected them with twine string. 

  1. Outline the holes. They have to be aligned with the other ones.
  2. Drill.
  3. Pull through the twine.
  4. Make a knot at the ends.


How to paint perfect lettering recap


I hope you got inspired, and now you believe beginners and kids can make a beautiful wood sign easily.

Before you get into hand-painting letters on wood, you can use stencils and outline your design with a pencil before using a permanent marker or acrylic paint.

To create a smooth surface for your letters, sand the wood with fine sandpaper and clean off all dirt and dust.

Mix and match letters and other stencils to create a unique design. That way, it is not just dull letters, but truly a beautiful home decor or a meaningful gift.

Seal your project to preserve and protect it, especially if it will be used outdoors.

Enjoy and Happy DIY-ing!


Do you want other easy craft ideas? Check out these articles:


Don’t forget to PIN it and come back for instructions anytime. If you have questions or useful tips, I can’t wait to read your comments below. 😉

paint lettering DIY tutorial

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