Saturday, September 1, 2012

The War Begins

I've decided to finally tackle my landscape after having devoted nearly all my energy to renovating the interior.  The embarrassment and apologies to guests have tipped the scales in favor of action.  I started with an easy project...street numbers!  Here's the before and after:

This is from both sides of my driveway to showcase the best and worst of the transformation.  I'll give some tips on how to make yours look even better.  You will need: spray paint, tape (masking or similar), newspaper, measuring tape, contact paper, pen, and a small paintbrush.

Step 1:  Pick a style!  The top frame reflects the usual method of using stencils (hence the connecting lines that run through the numbers).  These can generally be found in home improvement stores or superstores.  I decided to get crafty and make my own numbers.

Step 1B:  I printed numbers off my computer at size 500 using American Typewriter Condensed Bold font. Choose any font that tickles your fancy and check the sizing against your current numbers.  Trace the numbers backwards on the paper side of the contact paper and cut out.  I used clear paper, but a color or design will show up better for checking placement. Contact paper provides close contact with the concrete and reduces the amount of touch-up needed afterwards.  

Step 2:  As with all painting, you want to make sure the object is clean so paint doesn't flake off.  I used a broom to remove grass and pebbles from the area and then a soft bristled dust brush to get off fine dirt.

Step 3: Tape off the desired area.  Measure the width of the numbers and add an inch for each space between numbers and the edges.  Mine ended up around 18 inches which was a little larger than the original.  Leave an inch above and below the number's height for the border to stand out.  I used masking tape, but blue painters tape or packing tape would probably work as well...duct tape might be a wee bit too sticky.  Tape the newspaper down ALL the way around.  Those white dribbles at the bottom are because I did not.  :P  The newspaper protects the surrounding area, especially if you get spray happy or it's a little windy (don't try this if it's really windy!).  I ended up barefoot because I had to use my shoes to keep the newspaper down in the wind.

Step 4: Spray paint the base layer the color you want the numbers to show.  I used RustOleum's "Heirloom White", which is more of an off-white than standard white, in a satin finish.  I think it makes the numbers stand out and looks more attractive.  Follow the directions on the spray paint regarding how long to let it dry before adding another layer.  You could do a second base layer, but I skipped it.

Were you wondering where step 1A was?  Here it is!  Step 1A:  Start in the morning to mid-afternoon so you don't have to remove all the newspaper when it gets dark and re-do it the next day like I did.

Step 5:  Here's where the contact paper choice comes into play.  With my clear numbers, it was hard to tell if they were straight and the spacing looked right, therefore I ended up with a slightly tilted "2".  Use the tape measure to distance numbers an inch apart and check the top of the numbers are aligned.  Stand back and check it out.  My contact paper was forgiving so if something doesn't look right you should be able to take it off and try again.  Make sure you press it down well when you're happy so you have less to touch up later.

Step 6: Spray paint the top coat.  I used RustOleum's "Canyon Black" in a satin finish.  Let it dry and remove the tape, newspaper, and numbers.  Voila!  If a little top paint got on the numbers use a cheap, small paintbrush to do touch ups.  I still need to do this and plan on spraying into the paint can cap and dabbing the paint up from there.