DIY House Numbers

Our house’s address is kind of strange. Our house sits on the corner of two roads. Our driveway, mailbox and front door all face one road, but our address is technically on the other road. It’s pretty confusing for people who come and visit for the first time, and delivery people, especially since we have no house numbers. At all. Well, I suppose the house number is on the mailbox, but since it’s on the other road, it doesn’t really help.

Well, since I happen to be a graphic designer by trade, I really wanted to do something fun, unique and modern for our house numbers. I went through a bunch of different fonts on my computer and talked with Matt about what type of font we would like. This part of the project actually took quite a while to finish, but in the end this is what we chose:

Paper Model of Our House Numbers

This font is Tall Films Expanded. It’s free and can be found here. I had to alter the four a bit so that it could be cut out, and it worked out well. After all of the planning, I knew what we were wanting to do, so I printed out the numbers on paper at the same scale as what we wanted to create. This is important because it serves two purposes. First, you can take the paper version outside and hold it up where the final one will go and make sure that it’s readable from the street. Second, you can then use it as a stencil.

Tag for the Aluminum Sheet that we Used

This is the metal that Matt and I decided to buy. It was a 1ft by 2ft thin aluminum sheet.

Using the Paper Model as a Stencil for the Aluminum

I made sure to tape the stenciled version exactly where I would need it on the metal, then traced the numbers onto the aluminum with a Sharpie. If you’re going to be doing a project like this, I would recommend seeing if you can get away with pencil first. The Sharpie was difficult to get off after I was done with everything else, and it would have been nice to not have to work so hard at it.

The Numbers Drawn in Sharpie on the Aluminum

My design ended up using just over half of the sheet.

Aluminum Sheet with Cut Out Numbers

I tried a few different ways of cutting out my numbers. First, I decided to try out a coping saw. It worked well in a few spots, but was really too harsh for this thin aluminum and ended up starting to warp it. You can see the damage towards the top of the four. We ended up switching to a cutting wheel on our Dremel tool to cut the rest of it out. It was a bit time consuming, but worked much more nicely. To cut off the excess from the side, Matt just used his miter saw.

Aluminum Sheet with Cut Out and Filed Numbers

After the cutting came the filing. I took some metalsmithing classes in college, and filing is so important on any metals project. I recommend getting a set of jewelry files for this project and any other metal projects that deal with needing to file small spaces. I have a set of 6 that include a rectangle, square, circle, half-round, equilateral triangle and another triangle one that I never use. But the rest of them are definitely very useful, and I highly recommend investing in them if you’re going to be doing multiple metals projects.

Matt Bending the Aluminum so it can Sit on the Brick

After getting the numbers all ready to go, we needed to bend back the edges so that we could fasten it to the brick on our exterior wall. We clamped the aluminum in between a 1×4 with a sharp right angle and our kitchen counter, and then Matt started the bend with his hand.

Matt Hammering the Bend so that it's Strong

After getting the bend as well as he could with his hand, he tapped all along the bend with a hammer, trying to be careful not to leave markings on the metal. Hammering metal will get it to the shape that you want, and it will harden the metal in most cases, making the bend more permanent.

Finished House Numbers

This is a shot of the house numbers after the bends were finished.

Installing the House Numbers

A lot of people won’t need to worry about this step, but if you’re hanging or attaching anything to brick, this is a method that works really well. We used sleeve anchors that you can buy at any home improvement store. First, you need to mark your hole and tap a starter hole with a nail.

Drilling the hole in the brick so that the house numbers can be installed.

Then, you use a drill with an appropriately sized masonry drill bit. It shouldn’t be larger than the anchors that are going into the brick, but around the same size. You want the hole to be a pretty snug fit for the anchor. Ideally, you’ll have to tap the anchor in gently with a hammer.

Screwing the house numbers into the brick.

After that, you just need to screw in the screws that come with the anchors and voila, you’ve got awesome new house numbers:

Our Installed House Numbers

Matt’s intention is to also hook up some solar powered Christmas lights behind the metal bits so that at night the numbers will still be visible to passers-by. I’m just happy to have the main part of this done and up!

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