Baby I Got Your (House) Number

This is the story of a project that should have taken me an afternoon but instead took me the better part of the week.

Our house numbers have always been a little crooked and a little discolored - so last week I decided I was just going to take them down, clean them off, paint them and re-hang them. Ha.

Upon removal I see these bad boys are covered in at least three coats of poorly applied paint.

Not to mention the mess they left behind on the columns. 

First step, while I still had the ladder out, was to take some warm soapy water and see how much of the grime would wash off. Results weren't terrible but I'll be back through with a little touch up paint shortly.

Then we head over to our favorite non-toxic paint remover and get working on the numbers. 

Thirty minutes of soaking later and it now appears the numbers have no fewer than half a dozen layers of paint - black, white, at least two blues, a pale yellow, and a kelly green that has me very curious...

It also appears that the non-toxic stripper is no match for this project - time for more extreme measures. Full disclosure, two more rounds with the toxic paint remover and I was about ready to call it quits, go to the hardware store, and buy new numbers. The majority of my day had already been burned by this one task - but then I discovered on the back of one of the numbers that they were made in Germany. OK, so that's pretty cool. (You can just barely make out the markings at the top of the 4.)

I persevered and an embarrassing number of hours later they were clean and down to their shiny aluminum selves. 

Then to the decision of where to hang them - I had already decided I didn't want to put them back on the column and had considered to the right of the door. 

Then Adam comes home and says "what about under the light on the left above the stairs?" All right smarty pants, I like it. And then just for fun, "why don't we mount them on something." OK - I can get on board with that as well. We decided on a white placard for the numbers, and I know this seems wrong after all the time I spent stripping them, but we decided to paint them oiled bronze to go with the light fixture and to pop a little better off of the white. 

At this point I'm on day two of what should have been a one day job, and it's pouring down rain and I'm certain there will be a day three and even a day four to this since I can't get much painting done in the rain.. 

Also, don't remove your house numbers if you're expecting a package. Or pizza. If you do, be prepared to improvise. 

Next day it clears a bit and I work to spray two coats of primer and then two coats of oiled bronze onto the numbers in between showers.

Adam cut me a piece of poplar to serve as the background which I sanded, giving the edges a slight bevel, and covered with two coats of spray primer (front and back) as well as two coats of exterior paint, brushed on. 

Then I placed my numbers along the completed piece where I wanted them, found two spots where the numbers were wide enough that they would cover the screws needed to attach the board to the house. I traced a small penciled area, pre-drilled pilot holes, and drilled a wider opening for the very top to allow for a counter-sunk screw. 

Then I mounted the piece to the house, centered beneath the light fixture, and adhered the numbers with small nails. As you can see, the nails were galvanized and didn't match the finish of the numbers.

To fix that I sprayed a bit of the oiled bronze spray paint into a clean container and used a cotton swab to dab onto the nail heads. 

Problem solved. I also took a little of the exterior paint and touched up some spots that the numbers had scratched. 

It took much longer than I had anticipated, and I can't say I would bother with the numbers if I had it to do over again, but now that it's done I'm glad I did it. 

The house numbers on the white background adds something to that part of the house that I didn't really recognize was missing. I'm looking forward to seeing it tonight lit up.

Have you encountered a project that took much longer than you had planned? What kind of modifications, if any, did you have to make? Would you do it again if you had to?


  1. It took me eight years, but I finally installed the # 13 on our house this week!

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