How to Paint a Pallet Sign with Nice Clean Paint Lines

Painting pallets signs

I love being able to reuse and repurpose pallets. Building and painting signs is a ton of fun. It took a few trial and errors to get those nice clean paint lines, but with the PVPP method it’s super easy!

living on grace and coffee

(The design on this sign can be purchased in our online shop here.)

Materials I use
  • pallet board (assembled)
  • 220 sand paper
  • chalk paint (I use Wise Owl brand)
  • 651 vinyl (can also use 813 stencil vinyl)
  • transfer tape
  • plastic scraper
  • small flat bristle paint brush or sponge brush
  • matte top coat
  • patience

Start by sanding your board smooth with 220 sandpaper. I hate sanding but it’s absolutely necessary if you want clean crisp lines. You want a smooth and clean surface. If you are staining your board or leaving it natural there are a couple different ways you can do it.

If you’re staining and using an oil based stain, you want to make sure it is completely dry. (24/48 hours before you paint). Wipe the surface and make sure it is dry and free of any oil left over from the stain.

Now you can either put your stencil on or start with the top coat. Either way will work. Sometimes the top coat will make the surface smoother and allow the stencil to adhere better. If you are going to top coat you should wait another day before you put the stencil on.

If you’re not staining but still want the bare wood look you can start with the top coat to have a nice smooth surface. You should still wait a day to put the stencil on if you are top coating to start. (see why I put patience on the list)

I am always in a hurry and very impatient to see the final results. I do use a few things to speed up drying time. Sometimes it works in my favor and sometimes it doesn’t. For instance, when using the heat gun to make my top coat dry faster sometimes give it’s a “crackle” effect. And while I like that look on some things, I don’t always want it.

But with the stain you really do need to wait 24/48 hours for it to soak into the wood.

Now if you’re starting with paint, do an even coat of paint and depending on the coverage of the paint you may need a second coat. Let each coat dry completely before adding another one. And because I’m impatient, I usually start on a new project in between coats. Which is why I usually have three or more projects/things going at the same time lol.

I use Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis Paint because I love the coverage and the color options. I have used latex, acrylic and other brand of chalk paints and Wise Owl, in my opinion, is the best. I love that it dries quickly, cuz as I may have mentioned,  I don’t have a lot of patience.

Once your paint is dry, it’s time for the stencil. (If you’re looking for some ideas, check out my svg shop). I’ll have a stencil tutorial soon.

Put your transfer tape over your stencil and peel the backing off the vinyl.

Lay the stencil on the board and use a plastic scraper to smooth it out. Make sure all bubbles and creases are smoothed out. Remove the transfer paper and smooth out with the plastic scraper again. This is the worst part for me. I use duct tape brand contact paper. It works great and is a cheaper alternative to transfer tape. However, sometimes its takes a bit more muscle to get it off my stencil. Gives me a little workout!

Now I use what is called the PVPP method. Paint, vinyl, paint, peel.

Now that the stencil is on I paint over it with the same color as the base. (if staining the wood or leaving bare you can use top coat for this step. Some people have used mod podge  but I find that it makes my paint peel up with the stencil). This seals the edges in case there was any unevenness in the wood. You want those nice crisp clean lines.

Then you paint your stencil with the colors you have decided on. Picking colors is the fun part!!

Peel the stencil when the paint is dry but it doesn’t have to be completely dry. You shouldn’t leave the stencil on over night, especially if you are using 651, because it could peel up your base coat or leave a sticky residue.

When peeling back the vinyl, go against the grain of the wood. This will insure no splintering if your surface is a bit rough.

Once the stencil is off and the paint is dry, you can top coat. I try to wait until the next day to top coat. I want my paint to be completely dry so my top coat doesn’t smear it. Or I’ll use my heat gun if I don’t want to wait lol I really am not a patient person.

If you follow the PVPP method, you should end up with perfect clean, crisp lines.







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