Sign Business Tips: Painting Signs like the Pros

Sign Business Tips: Painting Signs like the Pros

In today’s post, we outline some basic painting tips and tricks to elevate your sign design and execution. Whether you’re sign business owner looking to expand your knowledge base, or an event organizer seeking DIY sign painting solutions, the following 4 tips should come in handy!

  • Choose the right paint for your unique sign needs. Not all paints are created equal; in fact, some are outright awful to work with for lettering, and will cost you big in design revision and upkeep. Before you purchase your paint, you need to know what medium you’re working with, as well as the general size and style of lettering you’re trying to create. You might also want to factor in your paints “corrective potential” – in other words, does your chosen paint make it easy to fix mistakes? This is especially important for newbies in the signage world. For example, water-soluble paints can be washed off of the medium, but doing so risks staining the wall and floor as lettering streaks and drips. On the other hand, latex-based paints can be chipped away with a regular scraped once the lettering has hardened. Once the mistakes are scrapped off, they can simply be vacuumed up and redone. This can be done as many times as needed, which takes all the pressure off nailing the lettering the first time around.Finally, you’ll need to consider where your sign will be mounted. Those being mounted outdoors will need to be painted with weather-resistant paint, or sealed with protective coatings after the fact.
  • Use staining to work your lettering in reverse and “upgrade” attractive mediums. Though we often like to think of lettering as making marks on the medium, creating opaque lettering by staining the background is a perfectly viable alternative. This is a particularly useful option in cases where the medium itself is worth showing off, but your lettering and detailing skills are lacking. In these cases, your “lettering” will actually be done by cutting out stencils to stain around or taping off areas, which minimizes opportunities for error.
  • Embrace taping! We touched on taping in the previous point, but it’s too valuable a technique to mention in passing. When you’re painting borders and edges, taping is crucial. The concept is simple: whatever you don’t want to paint gets covered. This is a great way to protect previous work as you advance through your design, and also to establish rigid lines that simply can’t be done by hand. Make sure you don’t choose a tape that will leave any gluey residue behind, and be careful not to apply too much paint along the edges to eliminate any chipping during the removal.
  • Outline your lettering for striking signage. Signs with outlined lettering may be more successive catching the eyes of your target audience. The visual impact is generally thought to be part of a “vintage look,” which may suit your business. Outlining is important when you’re painting onto a darker background, especially when you’ve decided not to use colors that contrast sharply with one another. Once you have painted your lettering completely, you can outline by hand using a thin paintbrush. Ensure that the lettering has dried completely or you risk muddling colors and bleeding lines. Choose a lighter color for dark backgrounds, and a darker color for light backgrounds. If your lettering was done with stenciling, you can actually outline with the stencil still in place, using its borders as a guideline.

Visit to learn more painting techniques or get help from the pros!

About Signworld

Signworld is a national organization with more than 300 independently owned sign companies, which provide commercial custom signage and graphics. It’s personable, creative, rewarding and ideal for people-oriented individuals who have the desire to learn how to manage a sales and production business. Signworld has been a part of the industry’s profit and fun since 1988. With over 28 years in the business, Signworld has established itself as the leader in the no-royalties and no-rules sign business concept. The ongoing support and training along with state-of-the-art equipment helps leave the competition behind. For more details visit –