DIY signpost deck decor

It’s not often that I come across a Pinterest project I haven’t seen before. So when my friend texted a picture of a brightly-coloured signpost — each sign pointing to different north, south, east and west destinations — I was intrigued.

This friend moved into a new home fairly recently (and yes, it does feel like ALL of my friends are building gorgeous new homes) and she wondered if I would create something like it for her back deck. Of course, I agreed — what a perfect housewarming present — and I wound up doing the whole thing last Sunday.

I had my friend start by making a list of destinations that meant something to her family, along with their cardinal directions (north, south, east, west) and their distance from her house. No way was I being trusted with those details. I still use Siri’s voice prompts to direct me to places 10 minutes from home.

(And let’s not talk about last summer when I was horribly lost in the woods of Victoria Park behind my house.)

Read the “Heather gets really lost” story here

She close nine places — hometowns, favourite vacation spots, locations of their relatives and even her husband’s in-home brewery — so I cut nine two-foot boards on my mitre saw. They weren’t even exactly the same width, but I knew it wouldn’t matter. Then I nipped two tiny triangles off one end of each board to make a point, like a directional arrow.

It was a very windy Sunday morning when I dragged all nine boards outside to be painted. I picked nine different colours from my paint arsenal — some Fusion Mineral Paint and some old CIL samples — ranging from orange and mint to navy and black. The only criteria was they needed to be dark enough to support white lettering.

The combination of the sun and wind dried the boards super-fast — two coats on each side — and then I brought them back inside to do the lettering. (And warm my freezing cold hands.)

I typed up the city names and distances in a free serif font (Coolvetica on, printed them out and cut them into strips. The pile was daunting — nine city names and nine distances, times two because the signs needed to be double-sided.

I scrubbed the back of the first strip of paper with light blue chalk, laid the paper over the board, and traced the lettering with a mini-screwdriver. When I lifted up the paper, I could see a clear chalk outline that could be filled in with white paint. More effective than my old pencil-scribbling method, but still only 1/100th of the work that had to be done.

Somehow, I powered through lettering each sign — front and back — in a single Sunday afternoon while marathoning Riverdale on Netflix. My right hand felt like a claw when I was done from gripping tiny paintbrushes, but the signs looked great.

The easier part, by far, was screwing the signposts into a pressure-treated 4×4 post. I was paranoid I was going to mess up the directionality of them, however, and kept murmuring “Never Eat Shredded Wheat” — the grade-school mnemonic device for remembering “North, East, South, West.” (Much like the way I kept muttering “Roy G. Biv” when I was making our daughter’s rainbow bed.)

I screwed them all on myself except the last one, when I had to yell up to my handy husband for an extra hand. I’d balanced the signpost in a laundry hamper and the wooden signs — flailing in all directions — kept threatening to poke me in the eye.

That very same Sunday evening, I was slathering on coat after coat of polyurethane. After all, the sign was destined to be a deck decoration — what if the rain washed away my hard work?!

Our friends were so happy with their new signpost and I bet it’s going to be a conversation piece during their BBQs this summer. I should add a disclaimer that says “If you see a directional and/or distance error, do not tell the maker. It will really, really bug her.”


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