Here’s How to Repaint an Address Sign By Yourself

In front of our house, lining the street, there’s this sizable garden bed. When we first moved in a couple of years back, it was a jungle of prehistoric weeds, an eyesore that grated on us. Tackling it meant investing in the best weed eater we could find.

After a series of efforts involving spraying, pulling, digging, and mulching, our garden had a whole new vibe. But, sitting right at the edge was this metal address sign, a relic from the previous owners, looking worse for wear.

By now, we’ve probably hauled away about four tons of stuff the old owners left behind. Yet, before tossing out this sign, we paused to give it a second look.

It’s pretty cool – a dog-shaped cutout at the top, with our address below. We’re dog people, and, well, having an address is handy, so we thought, why not keep it?

The sign? It was a real mess. I mean, seriously rusted metal looking sign, with paint slapped on in all the wrong places over who knows how many years. It appeared as if it had endured quite a beating.

But hey, that’s my kind of challenge. I love taking stuff that’s seen better days and giving it a makeover. It’s like giving things a second chance to shine, you know? Plus, I’ve got this go-to brass foundry I frequent whenever I need metal casting services.

Now, I’m no expert when it comes to refinishing metal (translation: I’ve never attempted it before), so I was hoping this would be a straightforward job.

Turns out, it’s about as easy as pie. I mean, it’s easy enough for even a caveman to handle, provided that caveman has some power tools lying around.

All it requires are a few simple tools:

  • A wire brush
  • Rag and alcohol for surface cleaning
  • An angle grinder equipped with a flap disc, wire wheel, or grinding wheel
  • Maybe a rotary tool for some extra finesse
  • Rust-reforming spray paint
  • Topcoat spray paint

And of course, safety first! Here’s the gear you’ll want to suit up with to keep all your bits intact and your senses sharp:

  • Safety glasses
  • Dust mask
  • Hearing protection
  • Anti-vibration gloves

Oh, and don’t forget to give those owner’s manuals a once-over to ensure you’re handling your tools safely and soundly.

Overall, the process is pretty straightforward. Here’s how I did it:

1. Fasten the item securely using clamps onto sawhorses or a suitable workbench.

First up, make sure to secure whatever you’re working on firmly with clamps to sawhorses or a sturdy workbench. This prevents any unwanted movement while you’re getting down to business.

2. Start the process with the use of the wire brush.

Grab yourself a wire brush and get to work. The paints on these things can be pretty stubborn. Your goal with the brush is to chip away any flaking paint and start tackling that surface layer of rust and grime. If you feel like it, you can even give it a spritz with a rust-specific cleaning solution for good measure. If you’re fortunate and the rust isn’t too gnarly and the paint isn’t flaking off in big chunks, you might just luck out with a simple wire brush scrub. Easy peasy! No need to overcomplicate things. But if, like yours truly, you’re dealing with a stubborn case, it’s time to level up. 

3. Get out the angle grinder.

Now, when it comes to using an angle grinder for this job, there are a few approaches you can take. If you’re mainly focused on stripping paint and dealing with light surface rust, attaching a wire wheel or flap disc with a coarser grit should suffice. However, in my case, the rust had settled in, so I had to opt for the grinding wheel to strip everything down to bare metal and start fresh. Now, the grinding wheel is pretty aggressive – it’s the heavy hitter in this lineup. But as they say, “With great power comes great responsibility.” There’s a risk of accidentally gouging the metal and leaving behind some unsightly marks. Luckily for me, since the sign’s just going to chill in a mulch bed and brave the elements, I wasn’t too worried about a few imperfections.

4. Break out the rotary tool for those tight spots.

You know, as great as the angle grinder is, it’s not exactly Mr. Agile when it comes to tight spots. That’s where the rotary tool swoops in to save the day. Pop on a grinding bit or whatever you were using with the angle grinder, and tackle those pesky nooks and crannies like a pro. It’s all about giving those little spaces the TLC they deserve.

5. Prepare the top surface for painting.

So, with the metal all stripped down and ready for action, it was time to get it spick and span for its makeover. I grabbed a rag and some alcohol to give it a good scrub, making sure to banish any lingering dust or grime. And hey, if you’re feeling a bit lost with the whole cleaning thing, don’t stress! There’s a wealth of online resources out there just waiting to lend a hand and guide you through the process.

6. Apply primer, paint, and add the finishing touch.

For my painting process, I opted for a ‘rust reformer’ spray paint. Here’s the deal with this special paint: it’s like a superhero for rusty surfaces. It’s designed to swoop in, bond with the rust, and turn it into a clean canvas just waiting for a fresh coat of paint. Now, I’ll admit, it might’ve been a bit much for my situation since I’d already gone to town stripping things down to bare metal. But, there were some sneaky spots, especially on the backside, where it came in clutch. After that, I busted out the black exterior paint for a slick finish and topped it off with a clear coat to shield it against those pesky UV rays.


You wouldn’t believe how far our rusty old sign has come! From an embarrassing eyesore to a shining star in our garden bed, it’s been quite the transformation. We put in the work, scrubbing away the grime, tackling the rust, and layering on primer, paint, and topcoat until it looked brand-spankin’ new. Sure, it wasn’t always smooth sailing – we faced our fair share of challenges along the way. But in the end, it was worth it. Now, with our freshly refurbished sign proudly on display, we’re looking forward to enjoying it for years to come. It’s not just a piece of metal anymore; it’s a symbol of our DIY spirit and the satisfaction that comes from breathing new life into something old. Plus, it adds a real charm to our outdoor space – a constant reminder of what a little elbow grease can achieve.

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