Friday, April 16, 2010

DIY curb appeal upgrade: Replace your old house numbers with shiny new numbers

Every house has these... or should have these. These are the numbers on your house that should be big, bright, and easy to see from the street. What? Your numbers are old, small, and rusted! Well then, maybe you should replace them and gain a little bit more curb appeal.

I recently decided to do this as part of my front porch overhaul. I got tired of the rusted, bronze colored items hanging near my new door and its new brushed nickel lock-set. So I found some nice numbers at my local hardware store that matched my front lock-set, were slightly larger than the old numbers, and had a simple style that should withstand the test of time. This project cost me about $4 per number and less than an hour of my time. Now here's how you can do it too.

What you'll need
  • a level, preferably 2-3 feet long
  • a sharp pencil
  • a power drill
  • a set of small drill bits
  • masking or painter's tape
  • an adjustable square or ruler or other tool for measuring length
Before going to the hardware store
take a look at your existing house numbers from the curb and from up close and ask yourself; what size should the new numbers be? What finish should they have? Is there a theme in progress that they need to conform to?

Now that you have an idea of what you want, let’s see what we really have to work with. Unscrew and remove your old numbers from the wall. This is easy and shouldn't require any detailed instructions from me; just do it. Take note of the condition of the wall. Are the old screw holes eyesores? If so, you need to be prepared to fill them, maybe with acrylic caulk or wood putty, then dab some paint on top. Speaking of paint, when you pulled the old numbers off the wall, did they pull any paint or texture with them? If so, you'll need to consider making a small cosmetic repair to the patches of missing paint and texture. Take your numbers with you to the hardware store

At the hardware store
take a look at the different ways you can replace your house numbers. You can buy decorative numbered tiles, frame them and stick them on the wall. That's not what I did. You can also buy vinyl numbers and stick them to the wall or a support beam. Those are simple and go on like stickers, but that's not what I did either. I took a look at the different styles of individual metal numbers available and found my ideal numbers there. I compared them to the old numbers; the new numbers were a little larger, simpler in style, and brushed nickel. Perfect!!!

Back at home,
it's time to begin installing the new numbers. Let’s make sure these numbers go in as level and balanced as possible. First, you need a level base-line to reference off of. The bottom of each number will just barely touch this line. Of course, you don't want to draw a line on the front wall of your home, so take a long piece of masking or painter's tape and place it horizontally (parallel with the ground) whereabouts you want the bottoms of your numbers to be. You don't need it to be perfect. It's just there so you can draw a line on it then peel the line off when you're done. Get your level out and draw a level, horizontal line on the tape. This will be your accurate base-line, where the bottoms of your numbers will touch. Draw a small intersecting line (cross-hair) where you want to center your numbers. This can be measured or just decided by eye. It's your choice.

For each number, tear a piece of tape about three times the height of the number. Stick the tape to the number, vertically, so that there is lots of excess to the top and the bottom. This tape will be your center line. Centering it by eye should be good enough. Now take your middle number, or middle-most two numbers, and stick it/them on the wall. Use your cross-hair from before to eyeball this. By squeezing the excess tape to the wall, you can make micro adjustments to the height of the number(s). Repeat placing numbers on the wall and aligning them to the base-line. Move from the middle out to the ends. After each number, take a few steps back to make sure all the numbers look evenly spaced and straight (not tilted). You might be able to measure the distance between the numbers and use a level to make sure they are straight, but some number styles will actually look uneven if you are too precise with your measuring tools, such as numbers that are designed to look thicker on one side and thinner on the other, or have an italic appearance or very decorative ends.

Once you have positioned all of your numbers and are happy, it's time to drill some pilot holes. Pick a drill bit that is a little smaller than the screws that came with you numbers and load it in your drill. Each number should have two screw holes; one around the top and the other near the bottom. Place a pilot hole in each one of these screw holes. Now you can remove the numbers and all of the tape. One by one, hold a number to the wall. Use the pilot holes as guides. Using a screwdriver or your drill (set to a low torque setting), put the screws in place. Once you've done this for all of your numbers, you're done. Step back, smile, and feel proud.

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