Use these tips for painting wood signs.

I have painted dozens of wood signs in my life.

Signs and friends of signs and entire sign families.

Small signs and big signs and grocery signs and signs that have only one powerful amazing word and signs that say I love you.

And in all my sign painting I’ve learned a few things.

Things that make sign painting a breeze.

Especially this tip.

The best tip of all.

Here’s the number one tip for painting a wood sign.

Wood signs make great decor in any farmhouse.

Start in the middle.

Now before I explain–I have to say that this post is all about doing what I say…

….not what I do.

See, I forgot my own tip.

I know…right?

Wood signs as wall decor in your home add a fun element.

The master bath remodel is finished and I needed a giant sign for the wall, so I took the beach sign from the before and repainted it.

I painted a coat of white over the BEACH letters and wished them well and happy days in the sand.

I wanted something clean and crisp, so I just bought some stencil letters from Hobby Lobby and traced the letters onto this sign, filled them in with a marker and distressed them.

It took me literally 36 minutes to finish it.


This painted thistlewood farms wood sign looks great in the bathroom.

Except one of the twins was telling me a story and I was listening attentively as I was tracing the letters and the story kept getting better and better and I stopped paying attention to the sign…

….and somewhere along the way I got off kilter.

Can you see it?

My THISTLEWOOD looks amazing.

And then I went all rogue with the FARMS.


Properly spacing out letters on wood signs before painting is important.

It’s all because I forgot the number one tip.

Count your letters.

Then start in the middle.

For example, THISTLEWOOD has 11 letters.  The L is the middle letter.  Measure to the center of the board and place the L there.  Start tracing the L first and go out from there.  Then repeat for your next word.

And the word after that.

And so on until your word is perfectly centered.

This thistlewood farms wood painted sign adds a cute element to this bathroom wall.

Not like this.

This thistlewood farms wood painted sign above the towel hooks adds fun decor to the wall.

Or this.

Please do your signs a favor and listen to one who’s been there.

Don’t go rogue.

Just start in the middle and you’ll keep yourself and your sign centered.

PS  I was going to repaint the sign, but then I remembered….

….we’re not exactly rule followers around here. 🙂

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  1. Image for Kathy Holbrook Kathy Holbrook

    That is such good advise. I remember learning that, and had forgotten it. Your sign still looks great. Thanks for sharing even mistakes. Love your blog.

  2. Image for Terie Terie

    Love it! you are probably not old enough to remember but we did the same thing in the mandatory typing classes in high school. LOL The sign is perfect, just as it is!!! Happy Monday, Karianne

    1. Image for Libby Libby

      Ha! I was just thinking about back in the day when you had to manually center something when you typed it!!! One of my first jobs was typing labels for fabric swatches (for a furniture company) and I spent daaaaayyyyyyssssssss centering and typing little triangle shaped labels!!

  3. Image for Julie Julie

    KariAnne, the sign looks fabulous!!!! But then, I've never been a "matchy-matchy, perfectly done" kind of gal!!!!! I love going a little rogue once in awhile....makes life FUN. ;) ;) ;)

  4. Image for Lisa Lisa

    Love it?I like that your leaving it!!! You could always add alittle cute simple design or something!!!! Thanks for making me smile on a Monday morning?

    1. Image for Tami Tami

      Yes, check your spelling! I got my lettering all centered on a project and after painting it, realized I left a letter out!

  5. Image for Andrea Andrea

    Sounds like good priorities! You've painted dozens of signs and there will always be another! But that sweet story HAD to be shared.

  6. Image for Gail Gail

    My whole house is imperfect. I hate when things line up. I hate when you only use certain colors. I hate when you have even numbers.. This is great. Nature is far from perfect and even. We are all off whack. Our faces are even different from side to side.. Being OFF whack if great.

  7. Image for Leslie Leslie

    Love it! Just paint a Thistlewood logo to balance it out under Thistlewood...I have lots of practice in boo boo repairs! Happy snow day, friend!

  8. Image for Patricia Patricia

    Thank you for taking some of the panic out of the thought of painting words. I wish I could be cavalier about the finished product, but the deep dark truth is I am terrified of making a mistake. So a little hint like counting the letters and starting in the middle goes a lonnggg way in calming me down. Deep Breaths, I can do this!

  9. Image for Brenda Brenda

    The sign would drive me crazy, mainly because I'm a symmetry freak! I would probably try to put a curlicue in there, decide I'd messed it up more and redo the whole thing. And probably mess it up again because I also have a short attention span. Or maybe I'd leave it and remember the great story that my child was telling me! Then I'd smile again and love the memory! I love your sign! Have a great day!

  10. Image for david david

    Excellent tip! And I think the off-center works for that sign. Now if you could only help me with spell-checking. A woman ordered a custom sign from me -a list of fabulous places she'd visited (Paris, London etc). The last line was just the single word "Wanderlust." We went through various mock ups, finalized the design, I fabricated it and ONLY THEN did either of us realize that the last line read - and had read all along - "Wanderslut" which, unsurprisingly, was not the inspiring-wall-art-message she had been hoping for.......

    1. Image for Pamela Pamela

      I have made many a mistake on custom signs I have painted but never one THAT bad. LOL! Thanks for the chuckle today. One thing about making those kind of mistakes is you learn how to fix them without having to remake the entire sign. I know I had to.

  11. Image for Cyndi Newton Cyndi Newton

    Hi, love your blog and your home. Do you have any hints for painting on old palet wood that has a rough surface? I would love your feedback.

  12. Image for Char Char

    David - Loved your story! I'm constantly asking people "does that look right" because you can't always rely on spellchecker to know what you're thinking.

  13. Image for Nancy @ Slightly Coastal Nancy @ Slightly Coastal

    See! This is the difference between you and me. You make a "right aligned" sign and see it still has beauty and you give yourself grace. Me? I would've started all over again and missed the beauty of the moment altogether. Today's lesson...practice grace for yourself...and count your letters...and count your lucky stars. Have a great day friend! Nancy

  14. Image for Randi Randi

    I love that you are gonna leave the sign as is. Sometimes you just have to roll with what is. If we strive to make everything perfect, life is a big ol' headache! Thanks for the tip!

  15. Image for Teresa Gonzales Teresa Gonzales

    That is how we used to have to center our titles in typing from the 1960's!!! Can't tell you how many times I miscounted the number of letters. Now the sign has a story! :)

  16. Image for Sara Brown Sara Brown

    Thanks for sharing!!! Still looks really good. I have some sign painting planned for the spring so this is a great I never would have thought of. I would have just started from the beginning and hoped for the best. Ha

  17. Image for Joanne B Joanne B

    Oh it's perfectly imperfect! Just paint a few sprigs of thistles or whatever to the right of the "farms" and it'll be perfect!

  18. Image for Jeanne Jeanne

    So happy you shared this tip! I plan to make my first sign soon, and wouldn't have thought of this- P.S. Your sign still looks great :)

  19. Image for PJ PJ

    Karianne, part of the beauty of a farmhouse is the imperfections present there. I have found some old signs in our barns, and , believe me, none are perfect! Warm wishes for a lovely day...

  20. Image for Nan, Odessa, DE Nan, Odessa, DE

    There is only one perfect person! Let people look for the imperfection. Now tell us, what wood do I go to Lowe's to buy? What paint do I use on the wood as background color? So I use your lettering technique. What type of paint do I use for my lettering? These signs are expensive on ETSY. Help me out, here.

  21. Image for sandi magle sandi magle

    All you need is a small barn, cart, or windmill on the end of farms...nothing too fussy, to balance it out, and no one will know except the 1000's of your readers, LOL. Sandi

  22. Image for Lindsay Thistle Winter Lindsay Thistle Winter

    I know this doesn't relate to you at all, however I love seeing the Thistlewood Farms - it reminds me of my Grandfather Jack Thistle's home which he named Thistlewood. He was raised on a farm in Strafford, Ontario, Canada and everytime I see your posts I think of him - and how wonderful he was and how lucky I was to have him in my life. Thanks for the memories. :)

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